As Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area begins its sixth decade as part of America’s National Park System, this report assesses the national park’s economic benefits and its value to the broader region. It also identifies challenges and opportunities to sustain and enhance its significance.
Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area lends economic vitality to a region that covers five counties—Sussex and Warren counties in New Jersey, and Monroe, Northampton, and Pike counties in Pennsylvania.
Just as important to the region’s economy are the park’s values as a community partner and as an anchor in a larger landscape of conserved and natural areas.
Research and consultation with local business, government, conservation, and other community leaders and park staff revealed opportunities to protect and expand its economic significance and overall value to the community over time.
These recommendations—and the opportunities and challenges to which they are connected—boil down to three fundamental points:
- Enhancing the values supported by the park depends on a broader recognition of the park’s contributions, and recognizing and strengthening the network of supportive relationships that undergird those contributions.
- The continued vitality of the park as an economic engine in the region depends on maintaining and enhancing connections among public and private conserved lands. The area’s clean water, inspiring scenic beauty, productive fish and wildlife habitat, outdoor recreation, and other essential values will suffer if the park becomes an island of protected land in an increasingly developed region with isolated natural areas.
- The park thrives—and its economic significance grows—when it is strongly connected to, and working in concert with, neighboring communities, businesses, and other formal and informal partners. Strengthening these relationships will foster additional economic benefits, and a sense of pride, ownership, and partnership that will benefit the park—and the community—well into the future.