Op-Ed: Garrett Gazette Opening Message
My legislation to extend the authorization for the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area (DWGNRA) Citizens Advisory Commission (CAC) until 2018, H.R. 3476, passed the House of Representatives by an overwhelming majority last Tuesday evening. If signed into law, this bill would preserve a citizen action group designed to serve as a liaison between National Park Service officials and park neighbors and visitors.
I gave a statement on the floor of the House of Representatives in support of this legislation. You can read the text of my speech below:
"Madame Speaker, I rise today in support of H.R. 3476, a bipartisan bill to reauthorize the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area Citizens Advisory Commission through 2018. Both Representative Carney and I believe that this citizen action group serves as an important liaison between National Park Service Officials and park neighbors. Many of my constituents have asked me to extend the Citizens Advisory Commission and I am pleased to work with Representative Carney on this legislation.
"Communication is the key to addressing and resolving citizen concerns, and it is clear that residents and park users value the opportunity to respond to park decisions, as well as propose alternative ideas.
"The Delaware Water Gap region has a turbulent history, one marked by improper government interference and federal invasion of the rights of property owners. In the mid-1900s, the federal government proposed to build a dam across the Delaware River. This Tocks Island Dam Project required the use of eminent domain and the government seized many properties. The project fell through and the property that was taken is now known as the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. Residents in the area were upset by the creation of the Recreation Area, and as a result, Congress passed legislation establishing a Citizen's Advisory Commission in 1988. The Citizen's Advisory Commission was reauthorized for an additional decade in 1998 and has served as a forum for the public to interact with park officials.
"Due to the combined efforts of various Commission members and park officials, the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area has increased in popularity and sees millions of visitors each year. In fact, out of nearly 400 parks in the national system, the Delaware Water Gap was just named one of the top 10 most photogenic parks for fall foliage. I am confident that the Citizens Advisory Commission will continue to play a valuable role in preserving it's splendor for future generations.
"The ability of local residents to communicate with federal agencies has been one of my main focuses and I call upon my colleagues in the House to join Representative Carney and me, and support this legislation."