The Lead

Turning DelWaterGap into national park would have ‘many benefits,’ DCNR Secretary Dunn says

By: - July 12, 2021 4:22 pm

Cindy Adams Dunn (Capital-Star photo by Cassie Miller).

A proposal that would turn the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area into a national park has picked up support from the head of the state agency that oversees Pennsylvania’s state parks and forests.

Members of the Pennsylvania and New Jersey chapters of the Sierra Club first suggested last week that the 40-mile stretch of recreation area, spanning New York’s border with Pennsylvania, down to Monroe County, before turning east into the Garden State, should become the nation’s newest national park.

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Citing the “overwhelming need” for more parks, Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn said having a national park within Pennsylvania’s borders would have “many benefits.”

“We at DCNR have seen firsthand that there’s an overwhelming need for parks in eastern Pennsylvania. The Delaware Water Gap is a remarkable asset on our eastern border, enjoyed by millions every year. We see many benefits to having it become a National Park, including more staff and resources to serve the public. We’re certain that through a rigorous public process examining this issue that the local perspective would be similar,” Dunn told the Capital-Star in an email. 

Originally intended to be a large reservoir for water-based recreation, the water gap reservoir plan was scrapped, but left its classification as a national recreation area in place.  

“The plan for centering the recreational area around the water has been abandoned because that reservoir has been deemed unfeasible for that use, which is why the area should be relabeled as a national park,” Dunn said.

The department told the Capital-Star last Thursday that the area has the historical and natural significance to support reclassification.

“Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area has a wide variety of attributes, including significant historic places and important natural areas. It is in a location that already sees more than 4 million visitors each year and likely even more if the recreation area were to receive the designation as a national park,” Dunn said. 

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Cassie Miller
Cassie Miller

A native Pennsylvanian, Cassie Miller worked for various publications across the Midstate before joining the team at the Pennsylvania Capital-Star. In her previous roles, she has covered everything from local sports to the financial services industry.