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No magic in a marker on a map

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NARROWSBURG, NY — About the only area of agreement in an Upper Delaware Council (UDC) discussion of river corridor boundaries on November 3 was that a magic marker line on a map isn’t very precise.

Carla Hahn, an Upper Delaware National Park Service administrator, spurred the discussion in reporting that new digital mapping determined that the boundary enclosed 57,155 acres.

Turning to his copy, Berlin delegate Al Henry responded that the River Management Plan says that the corridor can’t exceed 55,580 acres, a number determined by calculating the area inside a magic marker drawn on a map in the pre-digital days of the early 1980s.

Hahn replied that this was simply a more accurate calculation.

Suggesting that the change incorporated the area of the magic marker line, Henry replied, “You’ll have to go back on the inside of the magic marker… It’s first-grade mentality. They’re not going to cover essential features in ink.”

Shohola’s Aaron Robinson said the process was backwards, and that the mapping should have been done based on monuments, reference points on the ground.

The actual lines have never been determined, Chairman Fred Peckham of Hancock said. “It’s a big ‘who knows?’ It’s never been resolved and probably never will.”

Henry wasn’t impressed and insisted that a published change in the corridor size must also change the plan. He called for advertising of the change and public hearings.

The UDC voted to look into the issue further.

The UDC also approved a new letter to the New York City Department of Environmental Protection, regarding the council’s call for a siren warning system against dam failures.

The letter included the results of its query of local governments, in which they supported the system and the council’s discovery of a similar existing city-supported system protecting communities downstream of NYC’s Gilboa Dam below the Schoharie Reservoir.

In other business, Wayne County Conservation District Watershed Specialist Jamie Knecht presented the results of the county’s baseline water quality study completed with funding from and in cooperation with the U.S. Geological Survey.

The study was done to provide comparisons should Marcellus gas drilling come to Wayne County in the future. Neighboring counties did not have baseline water quality data when apparent drilling related issues arose.

The study included a total of 89 wells, 10 of which were sampled in a 2013 study. Some 245 invitation letters were sent to property owners, but only 55 responded, Knecht said. “There was a lot of politics. We explained and some changed their minds, but a lot didn’t... I wouldn’t have. It was a $3,000 gift,” she said.

Radon issues, mostly in the Lackawaxen River valley, were the most critical finding in the study. Some 97% of the wells tested showed radon above safe levels. Methane levels “similar to Marcellus blowback” was found in eight of the tested wells.

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