The Superintendent’s Compendium of Designations, Closures, Permit Requirements, and Other Restrictions for Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area and the Middle Delaware National Scenic and Recreational River has been updated with new measures intended to curb litter and protect wildlife in the 70,000-acre national park unit. It was previously updated in May 2020.
The Superintendent’s Compendium is revised and published annually but may be revised more often if needed. It addresses park-specific issues and regulations at the local level using federal authority granted to superintendents in Title 36 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), Parts 1 through 7. The CFR is a codification of the general and permanent rules published in the Federal Register by the executive departments and agencies of the federal government, including the National Park Service.
Changes in this version of the Compendium are intended to reduce litter and trash and protect wildlife and natural and cultural resources throughout the park. The following areas and activities are affected by these changes in regulations:
Raymondskill Falls and Creek- Raymondskill Falls is the tallest waterfall in Pennsylvania and has been one of the busiest sites in the park this year, often filling to capacity by 8:30 a.m. on weekends.
- The Raymondskill Creek Drainage, from the base of the lower falls, including the pool area, downstream to the confluence of the Delaware River and including the Schanno House (former) parking area and grounds on the west side of US Route 209 at Raymondskill Creek, is closed from May 1 to September 30, annually. This closure does not include the McDade Recreational Trail which passes through the area.
Caddoo Access- Located off Old Mine Road in Montague Township, NJ, at the north end of the park, this site provides primitive river access for car-top launching of vessels. It is now open Tuesday through Friday, during daylight hours; the site is closed Saturday through Monday. It was previously open 7 days per week.
Picnicking- Areas where picnicking and food consumption are prohibited include:
- Raymondskill Creek, trails, and parking areas, from the park boundary to the confluence of the Delaware River, including Hackers Falls and Trail;
- Point of Gap overlook parking area and riverbank;
- Sawkill Creek from the park boundary to confluence with the Delaware River (including the Mott Street Bridge and the pool below the bridge);
- Riverview Trailhead parking area for the McDade Recreational Trail;
- Karamac Trail and riverbank.
Park visitors who wish to prepare, cook or heat food using grills, stoves, or other food heating devices must do so at a designated picnic area that has the appropriate facilities for those activities, like restrooms, trash cans, picnic tables, and parking. Designated picnic areas in the park include:
- Bushkill Store Picnic Area
- Milford Beach
- Namanock Recreation Site
- Smithfield Beach
- Toms Creek
- Turtle Beach
- Watergate Recreation Site
The Superintendent has determined changes are necessary to maintain public health and safety; protect the environmental and scenic values; protect natural and cultural resources and park wildlife; and avoid user conflicts.
“We have been seeing large groups of visitors arriving early in the day and remaining in the same area for up to twelve hours cooking, preparing, and eating one or more large meals,” Chief Ranger Eric Lisnik said. “Sites like our beach and picnic locations are made for larger groups. We have the right infrastructure, such as trash receptacles and restrooms, at those locations.”
Along with an increase in visitation this year, the park has also seen an increase in trash and human waste, which in some cases is causing damage to sensitive park resources.
“One concern is the potential for bear-human conflict caused by the substantial amount of trash generated and left behind by large groups of picnickers, especially in more remote areas,” Chief of Resource Management and Science at the park Kara Deutsch said. “Access to human food and food waste leads to habituation and wildlife-human conflicts, especially with black bears whose primary habitat includes many of these areas. Once they have identified a location as a source of food, they will be back.”
“while the park has had more visitors, and more trash, than usual, we’ve also seen a lot more people interested in helping out by becoming Volunteers-In-Parks (VIP’s) this year,” park’s Volunteer and Partnership coordinator Jennifer Kavanaugh said.