Delaware Water Gap

BELVIDERE, N.J. – The Warren County Board of Commissioners will vote on a resolution at its Feb. 9 meeting to support efforts to make the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area a national park.

During the board's meeting Wednesday night, Commissioner James Kern III said he met last week with U.S. Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.), Knowlton Township Mayor Adele Starrs, Committeeman Kevin Duffy of Hardwick Township and former Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area Superintendent John Donahue.

Kern said all of them are supportive of the concept to make the already popular national recreation area a national park.

With that designation, he said the 70,000 acres of mountains and forests on both sides of the Delaware River's mid-section in Pennsylvania and New Jersey would benefit from additional recognition and prestige, receive more funding to make needed repairs and improvements on infrastructure and help local economies.

The board noted that while the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area is currently supported by federal funding, a national park is a more exclusive designation that would make additional resources more accessible.

The resolution would add to the momentum to create a national park, Kern said, adding that support is building among elected officials in Pennsylvania. Creation of a national park requires an act of Congress.

Supported by the Sierra Club chapters in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, a movement began last year to change the designation of the popular recreation area, which encompasses parts of Warren and Sussex counties in New Jersey, Pike and Monroe counties in Pennsylvania and Orange and Sullivan counties in New York.

There are 64 national parks, only nine of them east of the Mississippi River.

"This would be the first national park in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and New York," Kern said. "This is one of the nation's most beautiful sites and deserves this honor."

According to a recent Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area news release, the area had 4.1 million visitors in 2020 who spent $144 million in local communities, supporting 1,970 jobs and contributing toward a total economic output of $212 million in communities within 60 miles of the recreation area.

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