Sierra Club chapters in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, along with other groups are pushing for National Park status for one of the country's most visited outdoor areas, now listed as a National Recreation Area. If approved, it would be the first National Park for both states.
The area, on the New Jersey/Pennsylvania border draws about 4.5 million visitors each year. One of the arguments for changing status is the hope that it will bring more money for maintenance and infrastructure upgrades. The vice chair of the Pennsylvania Sierra Club pointed out that “We basically see the same amount of tourists as Yellowstone but without the commensurate budget.”
The area includes over 70,000 acres of woods, mountain and rivers, including Pennsylvania's tallest waterfall, Raymondskill. The Sierra Club has been pushing for the status change for over a decade saying. “It’s not just scenery. Its proximity to large urban centers like New York and Philadelphia make it accessible to millions. There’s so many people who could be served by this park.”
And there's support from 'inside' the park establishment. John Donahue, who was superintendent of the recreation area for 14 years, told USA Today that “You never hear people say, ‘I’m going to go see all the national recreation areas in America.' This place, basically, already is a national park.”
Image: Delaware Water Gap, as seen from the Appalachian Trail at Mount Minsi, Pennsylvania. (Nicholas/Wikimedia)