The River Unites Us By Sharon Davis: Stories about the Scenic Wild Delaware River by those who know it best
Michele Long (Photo provided)
Sharon Davis is Delaware River Program Manager, National Parks Conservation Association. Her column this week features Michele Long, Administrative Manager, Pike County Conservation District and a member of the Scenic Wild Delaware River Stewardship Council.
How did you become involved with the Scenic Wild Delaware River geotourism program? Michele Long: I was approached by the National Parks Conservation Association, a non-profit organization that works to safeguard our national parks, about joining the program to help promote the outstanding resources here in the Delaware River region. The region is home to several national park sites including Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area and the Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River, an array of wildlife and trails. I have lived here all my life and know the region well. For the last 14 years I have worked for the Pike County Conservation District and coordinated the Pike/Wayne Conservation Partnership. Being involved in the SWDR geotourism program was a natural fit.
Geotourism encourages travelers to experience the region’s authentic natural, historical and recreational assets. How does this fit in with your conservation work? Michele Long: The Pike County Conservation programs and services revolve around preserving our natural resources. Park of my work includes promoting the area’s unique character and helping people understand our link with nature. We strive to educate individuals on how their actions impact the resources. When travelers experience first-hand the beauty of our region’s rivers, streams and miles of trails, that link between humans and nature is more easily understood.
How does conservation and resource preservation benefit the local economy? Michele Long: Conserving this land protects the forested areas which in turn helps to protect water quality. Open spaces that contain forested tracts and wetlands act as sponges allowing rainwater to percolate into the ground, recharging aquifers with clean water. Our water resources are invaluable, and drive our region’s tourism-based economy, including river outfitters, wildlife tour operators, and eco-based agri-businesses such as wineries and organic farms.
Tell us some of the “must see” places that you recommend for travelers that can be found at scenicwilddelawareriver.com. Michele Long: Bushkill Falls is known the “Niagara of Pennsylvania” and experiencing the eight falls is both breathtaking and rewarding. The trails are coded for all levels of hiking ability too. Plan on a whole day to enjoy the recreational activities including gem mining, paddle boats, fishing and the Native American exhibit to learn about the region’s early history. Additionally, Childs Park, a hemlock forest within Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, has a family-friendly trail, three cascading falls and interesting artifacts from our industrial past, including a 19 century woolen mill.