By unanimous vote, the Warren County Board of Commissioners passed a resolution that reversed their earlier support for efforts to make the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area a national park.
Commissioner Jason Sarnoski introduced the resolution that was not included on the agenda for discussion, opposing the change of the popular national recreation area into a national park.
While acknowledging that the board passed the resolution in February that supports the national park designation, he said that since then, members of the New Jersey and Pennsylvania chapters of the Sierra Club, other national organizations, and congressional leaders had proposed goals that aren’t in line with the goals from Warren County Board of Commissioners.
Particularly, the resolution, read by Sarnoski, states that organizations promoting the creation of a national park have failed “to provide complete information or promote transparency on issues related to hunting, fishing, wildlife management, outdoor recreation, eminent domain and other matters of importance to our county residents.”
The resolution also calls for an official plan to answer the economic, agricultural, and environmental impact of a national park designation, fund sources, proposed fees, and plans for the acquisition of private and public lands through the use of eminent domain or any other method.
“I think it’s important that we take a cautious approach to moving forward,” Sarnoski said.
Commissioner James Kern III said conversations must be conducted on a local scale so that organizations can make their views be heard before making a decision.
“Passive and active recreation is essential for Warren County, particularly hunting and fishing,” said County Commissioner Lori Ciesla.
She added that any changes that might impact the ability to hunt or fish should be taken into consideration prior to moving towards the creation of a national park.
Sarnoski said that a lot of facts remain undiscovered In the meantime until all is clarified and understood, suggesting adopting “a wait and see approach.”
The Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area comprises 70,000 acres of mountains and forests along each side of the Delaware River’s middle section between Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
The board’s first resolution acknowledged the fact that a national park designation could benefit the region by bringing more recognition and prestige. It can also bring more funds for repairs and improvements on infrastructure to support local economies.
Supported by the Sierra Club chapters in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, a movement was launched last year to change the designation of the recreation zone, covering portions of Warren and Sussex counties in New Jersey, Pike and Monroe counties in Pennsylvania, and Orange and Sullivan counties in New York.
The country has 64 national parks, and nine of them are east of the Mississippi River. If it is changed to a national park, the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area will be the first national park in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and New York.
This article originally appeared on WFMZ-TV 69 News.