FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
The Friends of the Upper Delaware River (FUDR), an all volunteer, nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting and enhancing the world famous wild trout fishery of the Upper Delaware River, strongly opposes the "Fisheries Management Plan" currently proposed by the Delaware River Basin Commission, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and New York City's Department of Environmental Protection (essentially, the City's Water Department)- the NYC DEP the central influence in this proposed plan.
Citing the plan's many inadequacies in protecting, let alone enhancing, the fishery as the basis for their opposition, the group points to the proposed reduction of cold water releases from the Cannonsville Dam, on the Delaware's West Branch, from an historic average of 650 cubic feet per second (cfs) to approximately 160 cfs – and possibly much less - as the fundamental, but not the only, reason for serious concern. FUDR points to the fact that wild trout are a cold water species that begin showing signs of stress at a water temperature of 68 degrees (F) and that these historic cold water releases are critical in maintaining not only this wild resource, but also the economic impact the over 30,000 anglers who visit the Delaware annually provide to an already economically hard pressed region. FUDR also points to the fact that water temperature is not only critical for wild trout survival, but equally for the various aquatic insects that provide the trout's food supply. And that even the proposed tripling of the reserve cold water, called thermal or habitat banks, is described within the "Fisheries Management Plan" as insufficient in meeting some of their own proposed temperature targets.
It must be recognized that one of the key reasons for proposing this new "Fisheries Plan," at this time, is the proposed relicensing of Pennsylvania Power & Light's power generating facilities on Lake Wallenpaupack. According to Al Caucci, FUDR's Vice President of Communications, "Historically, New York City has been largely responsible for maintaining the 1954 U.S. Supreme Court mandate of insuring a minimum flow of 1750 cfs at Montague, NJ. It was this responsibility and the resulting cold water releases that enabled the fishery to evolve. The relicensing will allow PPL to release new volumes of water into the Lackawaxen River and then on into the Delaware downstream of the fishery. These new inflows proportionally relieve New York City of the responsibility of meeting the Courts mandate." The relicensing, currently pending before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is for a period of thirty-five to fifty years.
Certainly, the Friends are aware that in contesting this proposed plan, and the bureaucracies supporting it, they risk challenging the proverbial eight hundred pound gorilla – and then some. A gorilla made even stronger by the attendant maze of committees, subcommittees, "science," disputed computer models, titles and carefully crafted public relations. Still, the organization has developed its own plan for the fishery (copy attached); it is relatively simple, straight forward and, most importantly, it is doable. As Craig Findley, the organizations President points out, "There are really only three questions that relate to the fishery: Is there enough water to do what our plan calls for with out jeopardizing any of the down river consumers or other constraints? The answer to that is yes. Although there have only been two droughts in the past twenty years that lasted through the critical summer months, have provisions been made for the event drought? The answer to that is also yes. With no statutory or regulatory requirements anywhere in this proposal, and with the given of changing political administrations, philosophies, etc., do we want to entrust the survival of this great wild resource to three political bureaucracies for decades to come? Absolutely not!"
The upper Delaware River and its West Branch, much of which is classified under the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, are not only the largest and one of the few remaining wild trout fisheries left in the East, they are world famous trout fisheries - rivaling many of the great rivers of the western United States. And they have yet to reach potential. Rather than attempting to build a plan based on providing as little as possible to maintain the fishery, as is proposed, FUDR's vision is to provide as much cold water as possible, with out detracting from human needs. Bringing this great resource to potential and, in the process, adding tremendously to the regions direct economic impact. These added dollars that could be directed towards increased tourism and other economic investments that would further benefit the economically depressed area.
EDITORS NOTE: For more information on FUDR, visit their website by clicking HERE
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