What does the Delaware River Basin Conservation Act mean for the Upper Delaware River?

By Jeff Skelding

Watershed constituencies in the Upper Delaware River region in New York State are increasingly adopting a new ethic about the importance of river protection and how that contributes to a healthy business climate in an impoverished area that desperately needs economic revitalization. As the New York State Outreach Lead for the Coalition for the Delaware River Watershed, Friends of the Upper Delaware River (FUDR) is leading the charge in building coalitions, working with landowners, and engaging elected officials in this new dialogue and it is starting to pay off.

  Friends of the Upper Delaware River (FUDR) partner with local Bill Canfield Fly Fishing School in a summer camp that teaches teens about the sport of fly fishing and the importance of river conservation. Photo courtesy of Friends of the Upper Delaware

 

Friends of the Upper Delaware River (FUDR) partner with local Bill Canfield Fly Fishing School in a summer camp that teaches teens about the sport of fly fishing and the importance of river conservation. Photo courtesy of Friends of the Upper Delaware

One of the organizing vehicles that has been so important to our progress is the Delaware River Basin Conservation Act (DRBCA). Many river stakeholders are increasingly understanding how the DRBCA can provide much needed assistance in the Delaware headwaters. When U.S. Representative Chris Gibson (NY-19), a trusted leader in the upper region of the watershed, emerged as a congressional champion of the DRBCA that translated into strong public support for the legislation in the Upper Delaware Region.

One of FUDR’s local initiatives in the Upper Delaware region that illustrates this growing public support is an ongoing effort to develop a comprehensive watershed protection plan below the NYC Delaware River Basin reservoirs. A vibrant and diverse coalition of local elected officials, business owners, and conservation organizations are a year away from adopting a plan to protect and restore area waterways to ensure the long term health of the Upper Delaware region. As the DRBCA moves toward the congressional finish line, many watershed stakeholders and coalition members see the importance of connecting national recognition of our region with the ability to generate resources to implement the new watershed plan.

The Delaware River supports an internationally renowned cold water fishery in more than 80 miles of its northern headwaters that attracts tens of thousands of visitors each year and generates over $21,000,000 in annual revenue through tourism and recreational activities. Photo courtesy of Friends of the Upper Delaware

The Delaware River supports an internationally renowned cold water fishery in more than 80 miles of its northern headwaters that attracts tens of thousands of visitors each year and generates over $21,000,000 in annual revenue through tourism and recreational activities. Photo courtesy of Friends of the Upper Delaware

Our stakeholders understand how a unified, multi-jurisdictional watershed plan developed at the local level has the potential to attract significant resources especially in an atmosphere of heightened national attention to the Delaware River generated by the DRBCA. Congress has until the end of this session to pass legislation containing the DRBCA and the Upper Delaware community has been active in urging our Senators and U.S. Representatives to take action. Enactment of the DRBCA would set the stage for enhanced watershed protection in the upper Delaware River for many years to come! 

Led by Executive Director Jeff Skelding, Friends of the Upper Delaware River (FUDR) works to protect, preserve, and enhance the cold-water ecosystem of the Upper Delaware River Watershed, addressing any environmental threats for the benefit of local communities, residents, and visitors to the region. FUDR is a founding member of the Coalition for the Delaware River Watershed and serves as the Coalition’s State Outreach Lead in New York.