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December 11, 2016
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Comings and goings on the river

Outgoing National Park Service Superintendent Sean McGuinness received a number of testimonials at his last Upper Delaware Council meeting on January 9. The council presented him with this landscape photo of the valley, which prompted him to admit he had no photo of the river. Resident Ginny Dudko credited McGuinness for keeping an often argumentative community on point.
TRR photo by David Hulse

NARROWSBURG, NY — January government meetings often contain anticipated arrivals and sentimental departures as new officials take their seats and outgoing ones bow out. The Upper Delaware Council’s (UDC) January 9 meeting was no exception.

A number of important changes are coming to the council and the valley this year. Highland Supervisor Andrew Boyar was elected the 2014 chair, replacing Jeffrey Dexter of Damascus who filled last year’s term. Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) Executive Director Carol Collier attended and reminded the UDC of her upcoming March departure after serving more than 15 years in the job. Collier noted that her long-time deputy Robert Tudor is also leaving DRBC.

However, the change highlighted most was the retirement of the National Park Service (NPS) Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River Superintendent Sean McGuinness, after some 37 years with the NPS, the last four of which he served in the Upper Delaware. McGuinness’ last day will be January 24, and he will be replaced by an interim superintendent, who has not yet been officially named.

In recent years, with federal reductions in many areas, when a superintendent leaves concerns grow about rumored plans of combining the Upper Delaware with the sprawling Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area.

In a January 3 letter to the NPS regional director’s office, UDC Executive Director Laurie Ramie sought to encourage a replacement with McGuinness’ “special qualities.”

McGuinness “reached out to community and school groups; and offered an open ear to all individuals. He communicated honestly, requested feedback, listened to the input and enthusiastically participated in events… Perhaps most importantly, he understood and embraced the cooperative management model set forth in the Upper Delaware’s enabling legislation and in the River Management Plan.”

The council approved a resolution of appreciation “for his dedicated service to the National Park Service and valuable contributions to the Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River Valley….”

McGuinness outlined some of the philosophy he brought here in a July 2010 column he wrote for The River Reporter, titled “Imagine.” Using the John Lennon song as a jumping off point, he imagined the people, the governments and the NPS working together as one, ending with the lyric, “You may say that I’m a dreamer, but I am not the only one. I hope that someday you’ll join me. And the Upper Delaware will be as one.”

In his remarks on taking the UDC chair, Boyar recalled some 30 years of personal and official involvement with river planning effort. He concluded saying, “I truly believe that the collective wisdom in this room will enable this council to freely and openly debate and decide wisely all of the issues that will come before us in the next 12 months. As each and every one of you share your thoughts and views, I am confident that our collective resolve will be true and wise.”

The council will hold its annual swearing-in ceremony and reception for new officers meeting at 7 p.m. on February 6.