Be heard! TU urging members to attend Delaware River management meeting

Wild trout, such as this beautiful brown, lure anglers from across the East to the scenic upper Delaware River. (Photo courtesy of Friends of the Upper Delaware River.)


By Mark Taylor

Establishing a management plan for a large, dam-affected river system can be a complicated task.

When that river is the Delaware, which passes through four states and is critical for the water needs of millions of people, including those of New York City, it can be exceedingly so.

The Delaware River’s renowned trout fishery -- one of national significance and inarguably one of the best in the East -- is an element that needs to be considered in the river’s management future.

Trout fishing on the Delaware is not just about recreation. It represents tremendous economic value to local communities. That’s why Trout Unlimited is so invested in participating in a dialog with the Regulated Flow Advisory Committee as it works to establish a new Flexible Flow Management Program by a June 1 deadline.


The RFAC is holding a meeting in Hawley, Pa., on Tuesday, April 5. TU and others in the Delaware River conservation community are urging members and supporters to attend the meeting and to stress that flow impacts on coldwater fisheries must be considered in the new FFMP.


The meeting will be held from 1 - 4 p.m. at the Lake Wallenpaupack Environmental Learning Center in Hawley.


Trout Unlimited President and CEO Chris Wood will attend, as will TU board of trustees members and volunteer leaders.


“There are much-needed improvements to be made on on flow management that benefit coldwater fisheries and the watershed as a whole, particularly on the subjects of thermal relief when the river experiences high water temperatures, and avoiding abrupt reductions in flows,” said Keith Curley, TU’s vice president for eastern conservation. “We look forward to working to determine how these improvements can be made.”


The sun sets over the Upper Delaware, one of the East's premiere trout fisheries. (Photo courtesy of Friends of the Upper Delaware River.)


The Friends of the Upper Delaware River organization is also urging its members and supporters to attend the meeting in Hawley.


“Let’s fill the room and make sure the decision makers know that management of this river affects more than 15 million lives and a transparent process with the full participation of all stakeholders is critical,” urged Jeff Skelding, FUDR’s executive director. “Tell them we need a plan that protects aquatic habitat, provides for multiple water resource needs from upstate New York to the Delaware Bay, ensures consistent water releases/flows for recreational enjoyment, and enhances tourism opportunities to help those who rely on the river for their economic livelihoods.”


Collaboration and stakeholder engagement can work in challenging watershed management situations. TU has been a part of positive efforts in places such as California’s Klamath River Basin, and in the Penobscot River Basin in Maine.


The Delaware’s reputation as a trout fishery is well known. In a Catskills region with no shortage of historic trout fisheries, the Delaware is a true blue ribbon gem, a stream known for its rambunctious rainbows, burly browns and prolific insect hatches.


The trout fishery is created by coldwater releases from dams that form the Cannonsville Reservoir (on the West Branch) and the Pepacton Reservoir (East Branch). While the cold releases are critical for creating trout habitat, extremely low flows can stress fish that rely on the cold, well-oxygenated water.


An even-handed, collaborative approach to crafting the new FFMP can ensure that the Delaware can continue to serve as a key source of water for the communities it serves, while also ensuring the river can remain an outstanding recreational resource and economic engine.


Mark Taylor is TU's eastern communications director. He works from Roanoke, Va.



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