From NASA to the Upper Delaware

Connecting climate science to a sense of place

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The Upper Delaware is a nationally significant environmental resource. As such, it was chosen as one of the initial four teams across the country to participate in the Earth to Sky initiative. The five-person regional team, selected by National Park Service Natural Resources Chief Don Hamilton, came together at the Earth to Sky (ETS) four-day conference in October 2019. As a result of that conference, the regional team hosted a local conference in April 2021.

The primary objective of the Upper Delaware River Watershed (UDRW) Earth to Sky conference was to create four county teams which would, along with the regional leadership team, learn about NASA ETS climate change science and resources. The teams will explore practical ways to disseminate the climate change information to local stakeholders and influencers through outreach, policy initiatives, or practical on-the-ground projects.

The organizers first identified valuable resources the project could tap, including numerous nonprofit and ad hoc groups working on environmental and climate-related issues; engaged individuals with various academic backgrounds; our location in an area rich in widely-appreciated natural resources that could enhance resilience in the face of climate change; the natural beauty of our region, which inspires great emotional attachment even among residents not engaged in climate or environmental issues; and our area’s strong history of conservation and outdoor recreation.

The UDRW-ETS regional team members are from diverse professional backgrounds, and each has networks of relationships here. Two of the members have professional scientific backgrounds, but neither focused on climate science, although one had taught college courses on climate change. None of the team members had previously worked with all four of the other members.

The regional team focused on the geographic region of the Upper Delaware River Watershed. While we emphasized throughout the course that the watershed is defined by the catchment flowing to the Upper Delaware River and not by political boundaries, for the purposes of the course we chose to define teams by the four counties that, by and large, make up the UDRW: Wayne and Pike counties in PA and Sullivan and Delaware counties in New York.

County teams are made up of a team leader and four or five people from those counties. Leaders were chosen because they were proven influencers and had professional careers in science, conservation or sustainability. They were asked to recruit diverse teams which would attend the course and then bring what they learned home to their communities, spreading the word and taking action.

The teams will be working throughout the year to develop the projects in their home counties. Their work will be highlighted in these quarterly sustainability pages in 2022.

For more about Earth to Sky, visit https://earthtosky.org/

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