by Daniel Parr, SCA ’07, ’08
“Some areas were 30 feet underwater,” recalls Delaware Water Gap Superintendent John Donahue describing the floods that followed one hurricane, two major storms and the Delaware River’s historic rise to hundred-year levels. “Trails throughout the park were covered with washed-out trees and rocks…a massive cleanup project has been necessary to remove all the debris and restore the damaged facilities,” Donahue explains.
A 70,000-acre haven on either side of a 40-mile stretch of the Delaware River, bordering Pennsylvania and Northern New Jersey, the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area  was created in 1965 by eminent domain to clear land for the Tocks Island Dam Project.  The recreation area currently attracts two million visitors a year to fish, camp, and hike -- only a few hours from New York City and Philadelphia.
The National Park Service has been quick to recognize SCA as one of its best sources for hard working recovery crews. In an effort parallel to that undertaken for the NPS in similarly stricken Mount Rainier, SCA is providing helping hands to restore trails and facilities at the Delaware Water Gap.
“Each year we’ve increased SCA involvement in the park,” says Donahue. This summer in addition to two high school crews, five eight-person Recovery Corps crews, managed by an SCA coordinator, are working to clean up washed-out areas. The crews live in Camp Ken-Etiwa-Pec, an old Boy Scouts facility that Donahue has turned over to SCA for the season. “There’s more space, kitchen facilities, and the Appalachian Trail runs right through it. It’s an all around great setup,” he says.
“The work that they’re doing impacts a lot of people,” he says, adding that without the volunteer efforts of SCA, much of this necessary work wouldn’t get done. Monica Simmons, 17, who served on a crew last summer, remembers rebuilding some truly massive timber bridges. “The biggest piece of wood that we cut was about 18 feet long and 1.5 feet in diameter,” she remembers. “After we had cut it to its proper length and stripped the bark, it took our entire crew two hours to move it about 100 yards – it was a mammoth effort.”
Recovery Crews are not the only SCAs in the Water Gap. For the past several years, NPS has used interns to practice hands-on environmental biology. Monica Stegman, 20, who grew up near the park in New Jersey, has been a General Resource Intern since mid-May, monitoring the water quality of the Delaware and all of its tributaries. “Making sure that the river and its tributaries are healthy is essential to guaranteeing the health of the river and all of the organisms that rely on it,” Stegman says.
When asked about the impact of the recent floods on the Delaware, Stegman confirms that there have been major changes in the river. “The water quality is still looking good, but the river bed has changed drastically and many of the tributaries have also changed course,” she says. “By carrying out these constant tests, we hope to be able to stop a major problem before it happens,” she says.
Click here to visit the NPS photo gallery  of the Delaware Water Gap.
Pick up a copy of the upcoming summer issue of The Green Way  for more information about SCA’s flood recovery efforts at the Delaware Water Gap!