by Joseph Abraham
NARROWSBURG — Despite recent uncertainty regarding their future, the Upper Delaware Council (UDC) received good news last Thursday. Congressman John Faso (R-Kinderhook) announced that he’s secured critical federal funding from the Department of the Interior (DOI) in order for the UDC to continue its operations. The funding had been delayed since the new fiscal year began on October 1, 2017 as the DOI was reviewing all grant awards more than $50,000 in value, with no timetable or updates offered in regard to their completion.
“The UDC is very grateful for Congressman Faso’s advocacy and persistent inquiries to the DOI on behalf of our non-profit organization,” said Laurie Ramie, executive director of the UDC. “Restoring access to the federal funding we rely on to operate means that we can avoid our planned March 30 shut-down and staff layoffs, and continue our mission in partnership with the National Park Service to cooperatively oversee administration of the Congressionally-designated Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River.”
“This funding is absolutely critical for UDC and the important work that they do,” said Faso.
“I am happy that I was able to work with the DOI to help them understand the critical work UDC performs to conserve and manage the Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River and ensure that they receive their funding before their March 30th deadline.”
Since the federal Fiscal Year for 2018 began on October 1, 2017, the UDC was forced to draw down from its modest working capital account to remain operational. At their February 1 board meeting, the UDC had set a March 30, 2018 closure date with staff layoffs if the $300,000 annual federal funding stream remained inaccessible.
“I am elated to learn that our 2018 funding has been reinstated. Although the suspension of funding inflicted many setbacks to our operation and staff, the UDC will do its best to overcome these obstacles and move forward with our work plan for 2018,” 2018 UDC Chairperson Aaron Robinson (Shohola Township) said. “We will now be able to use its financial resources once again toward productive purposes.”
“I extend my wholehearted thanks to those in the public sector, private individuals, other concerned organizations, the media, and especially Congressman John Faso (NY-19) for advocating for us during this ‘do or die’ period,” Robinson added.
Sounding a note of caution after Fiscal Year 2017 funding had been similarly delayed by an unexpected DOI review that lasted from April to July, the UDC chairperson added, “I only hope this is the very last ‘near-death experience’ that the Council will endure.”
The UDC was established in 1988 to represent the interests of the local and state governments in New York and Pennsylvania, working through a Cooperative Agreement with the National Park Service, to manage the Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River. The designated river corridor is 73.4 miles long and encompasses 55,574.5 acres of mostly private property.
At the Feb. 1 meeting, the UDC accepted the Feb. 16 resignation of Cindy Odell of Honesdale, Pa. who began employment as UDC Secretary on Aug. 29, 2011. The position is currently being advertised.
The source of the UDC’s federal funding for its current Cooperative Agreement period covering Oct. 1, 2015 through Sept. 30, 2020 is a line-item appropriation within the budget of the NPS Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River, contingent upon the approval of funds by Congress and authorization of their release by the DOI.
The RMP proposed a 60% federal/40% States cost-sharing ratio for the Council’s operation; however, neither state [New York and Pennsylvania] has contributed directly in response to the UDC’s requests. The $300,000 federal appropriation from 1988 has remained flat.
For more information, please visit www.upperdelawarecouncil.org.