Press Release Oct 10, 2018

New Report Highlights Upper Delaware River Region’s Emerging Economy, Finds Community Collaboration Vital for its Future

"Strong partnerships and productive collaboration among community leaders are vital for the region’s bright future and for the Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River." - NPCA Senior Regional Director Joy Oakes

Hancock, NY – National Parks Conservation Association along with local community partners today released a new report, Making Connections: Roots of Prosperity in New York and Pennsylvania’s Upper Delaware River Region, to highlight success stories from the area’s emerging economy. This five-county region stretches from Hancock, New York downstream to Port Jervis, New York and Matamoras, Pennsylvania and is anchored by a national park site – the Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River. Collectively, community leaders featured in the report focus on efforts underway that will build long-term prosperity while supporting the region’s natural, cultural and recreational assets.

“The stories in the Making Connections report illustrate a vision for growing the region’s economic vitality – building on area traditions that value scenic beauty, clean air and water and small friendly communities,” said Joy Oakes, senior regional director for National Parks Conservation Association. “The decline of manufacturing industries across the country has pushed communities to invest in new strategies for economic development and growth. Strong partnerships and productive collaboration among community leaders are vital for the region’s bright future and for the Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River.”

The Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River welcomes nearly 255,000 visitors annually who spend nearly $11 million in surrounding communities. It is a unique national park site in that the National Park Service owns only 31 of the park’s more than 55,000 acres. The Park Service and community leaders work together collaboratively to manage the narrow river corridor, which serves as a working landscape for many local businesses.

Fresh air, clean water, abundant wildlife and a rural landscape remain key parts of the Upper Delaware River region’s deep appeal for visitors, residents and business owners alike. The region’s natural re¬sources, including the national scenic and recreational river, supports and attracts opportunities related to ecotourism, recreational outfitters, fishing, hiking and more. The Upper Delaware River also supports one of the nation’s best wild trout fisheries, bringing $350 million in economic activity each year.

“For the Upper Delaware region to recover and thrive economically, there needs to be a significant investment in a river-based economy that benefits people and communities,” said Jeff Skelding, executive director for Friends of the Upper Delaware River. “Tourism is the lifeblood of this community. We need to seize every opportunity to maximize the recreational value of the watershed and support responsible and sustainable use of the resource for the long term.”

Recommendations in the report for expanding upon existing opportunities and for the future of the region include but are not limited to:

  • Update the Land and Water Use Guidelines, developed collaboratively more than 30 years ago, which help guide local development decisions within the Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River’s narrow 73-mile-long corridor;

  • Invest in the river’s long-term ecological vitality and compatible economic activities that benefit local businesses and communities;

  • Develop and market a regional brand for the area’s natural resources to reach new audiences and;

  • Support collaborative community forums to promote storytelling, idea-sharing and to curate experiences and destinations for visitors.

“We can attract more visitors together than we do separately,” said Nancy Furdock, creator of DestinationHancock.com and vice chair of the Upper Delaware Scenic Byway. “We can learn from other parts of this region about understanding and properly marketing to our visitors. Hancock can leverage the things we all love about living here to attract new businesses and a demographic with money to spend and invest here. While tourism can bring us a lot, in the winter when all the visitors go home, it’s the locals that make the economy tick.”

“Honesdale is seeing a bit of an influx of young people who left and came back,” says Ryanne Jennings, executive director for The Cooperage Project, a nonprofit organization that aims to strengthen community through a variety of local events. “Building ways for the local community to connect with enjoy the Lackawaxen River, a tributary of the Upper Delaware that runs through town, will open doors for economic benefits and boost the area’s appeal to visitors, new residents and business owners.”

The report is informed by research by the Harbinger Consultancy and NPCA including a survey and interviews with local residents. To read the full report and to learn more about our work around the Upper Delaware River region, please visit www.npca.org/upperdelaware.

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About National Parks Conservation Association: Since 1919, the nonpartisan National Parks Conservation Association has been the leading voice in safeguarding our national parks. NPCA and its more than 1.3 million members and supporters work together to protect and preserve our nation’s most iconic and inspirational places for future generations. For more information, visit www.npca.org.