The following is a joint statement by the Pennsylvania and New Jersey Chapters of BHA:
Straddling the mighty Delaware River in the Keystone and Garden states, Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area is a treasured piece of wild country which provides about 70,000 acres of land for many types of outdoor recreation, including hunting and fishing.
There has been a recent movement to change the designation of the Water Gap from National Recreation Area to National Park and Preserve. While we appreciate that hunting is acknowledged as being important to maintain by those working for this change, we are concerned that a loss of huntable acres could still occur, as it did in the recent New River Gorge designation change in West Virginia.
This loss could happen by regulation or through safety zones around new infrastructure that would certainly need to be built to accommodate the increased visitation that accompanies a designation as a National Park. Hundreds, if not thousands, of acres could be eaten up by roads, buildings, parking lots and other new construction.
Backcountry Hunters & Anglers opposes any change that results in a net loss of huntable acres or fishing access at Delaware Water Gap NRA. Furthermore, should there be a loss of acres currently open to hunting or fishing, those acres must be offset by newly acquired lands currently not open to public hunting. These prescriptions should be explicitly included and funded in any legislation resulting in a designation change.
The pursuit of fish and game have been fundamental to humankind since our beginnings. We must honor our collective past and future by making sure the needs of sportsmen and sportswomen are preserved undiminished as we seek to conserve public land and realize the desire of all to recreate in the great outdoors.