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Delaware River National Park and Lenape Preserve


Isn’t the Delaware Water Gap already a National Park?


The Delaware Water Gap is a National Recreation Area.  The Water Gap is one of the forty National Recreation Areas.  It is also one of the eighteen, which is managed by the National Park Service.  The Delaware Water Gap is considered one of the four hundred official units of the National Park Service.  There are units in every state and in four of the five inhabited US territories (CNMI has an affiliated area in American Memorial Park).  Many National Recreation Areas are thin strips of land surrounding man-made lakes.  The lake in the case of the Delaware Water Gap was never created, as the Tocks Island Dam was never built.  So unlike many other National Recreation Areas, the Water Gap is a large area of protected land along a scenic and wild river.


What is the difference between a National Park and National Recreation Area?


While there are many similarities between all National Park Service Units, the sixty-three National Parks are created by an act of Congress, are generally larger and often held with more prestige in the eyes of visitors.  Many of the most visited units are not national parks (often due to their more urban locations), including the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area (which saw 4.3 million visitors in 2021, the 15th most visited unit that year).  When units are redesignated as National Parks, however, an increase in visitation has been seen the following year.

What are the closest National Parks to Port Jervis?


There is only one National Park in the northeast United States, Acadia National Park, an eight hour drive from Port Jervis. Three other parks are an eight hour drive or less from Port Jervis: Shenandoah National Park (5 hours), Cuyahoga Valley National Park (6 hours) and New River Gorge National Park and Preserve (8 hours)


Will hunting be allowed in the park?


National Parks do not allow hunting.  National Preserves, however, do allow for hunting and eight of the national parks are paired with preserves including the newest national park, New River Gorge, in West Virginia.  The majority of the land in the Water Gap would become the Lenape Preserve, which would still allow for hunting.


What are some of the reasons why it should become a national park?


There should be equity in access to the national parks in the country.  Although there are more than twenty million people in the New York metro area and the sixty million who live within a few hours of the Water Gap, many do not have the means to access any of the country’s existing national parks.  A national park in Pennsylvania and New Jersey would allow easier access for many in the region to visit a national park.  With the Port Jervis Line and the future Lackawanna Cut-Off Restoration Project, there could be public transportation options for visitors and residents of the region to access the southern and northern gateways to the park. Along with the redesignation, authorization can be included to establish cultural and educational centers to increase awareness of Lenape history and cultures.  National Park designation has a great impact on the local economies surrounding the parks.  According to the National Park Service, park visitors spent $14.5 billion in local gateway regions when visiting NPS sites in 2020, including $5 billion on lodging and $3 billion at restaurants and bars.  The newest national park, New River Gorge, saw a thirty percent spike in visitors, contributing to an increase in spending in local economies.  White Sands National Park, the second newest park, saw park visitors in the surrounding communities contributing $22.5 million to the local economies.  Port Jervis’ location as the northern gateway to the park, along Interstate 84 and at the terminus of the Port Jervis Line, will help bring more visitors to the city looking for lodging, food, shopping services and other outdoor recreation opportunities, while visiting the national park.

Will I have to pay an entrance fee to visit the park?


No, not all National Parks are fee parks.  For instance, the recently redesignated New River Gorge National Park and Preserve, requires no fee for entry.  It would be a similar situation as the recreation area, where there are fee areas, but most of the park is free for visitors.


Is there support for this initiative?


Although still in its early stages, there has been support expressed by some community members in Port Jervis.  In New Jersey and Pennsylvania, several local and state officials have expressed support, as well as U.S. Representative Josh Gottheimer (NJ).  The Pennsylvania and New Jersey chapters of the Sierra Club have been reaching out to other elected officials and are reaching out to community members to inform them of the initiative, get feedback and answer questions.


What can we do to help?


Please share the website and material on with others.  Additionally, I would like to create a survey for community members to get a better idea if members of the community are in support of this effort and what other questions or concerns people may have.  If you would be interested in helping to create this survey, please contact us below.

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