More Than A River

I grew up in Easton, Pennsylvania. I swam and fished in the Delaware and Lehigh Rivers during a time when the area where I lived consisted mostly of corn and alfalfa fields. Route 22 was still under construction and my friends and I would walk over to the new four-lane highway to watch the construction equipment push and load and dump what must have been thousands of tons of dirt and stone.

I paid little attention to politics until I was a sophomore in high school. That was when friends began talking about their parents being forced to sell their vacation and retirement properties near the Delaware River.

The government had decided to build a huge dam, which was purported to prevent the Delaware River from flooding as it had in the 50's. It was called the Tocks Island Dam Project. Although the dam was never built, 72,000 acres of land were acquired by condemnation and eminent domain. After the Tocks Island Dam project was withdrawn, the lands acquired were transferred to the oversight of the National Park Service, which reorganized them to establish theDelaware Water Gap National Recreation Area.

Some of my friends' parents opted not to sell. Their property and homes condemned, they were forcibly evicted by U.S. Federal Marshalls. Their dreams and lives were shattered by those who had the power to deprive them of their property.

You may be wondering what Tocks Island Dam Project has to do with us today. Fast-forward 40 years. I have lived and worked in the Upper Delaware Basin for over 40 years. In 2007 the natural gas drilling companies, planning to drill for natural gas, leased our properties. Within months the DRBC decided to "CLAIM AUTHORITY" over all of the land within the Delaware River Basin and imposed a ban on drilling any natural gas wells.

This power grab is reminiscent of what happened to the citizens who lived, worked and retired in the Tocks Island area. I fear that unless the DRBC is held to its Compact, this power grab will extend into every area of landowner property benefits, if not the ownership of this area itself. Given the current trend in pushing for more and more regulatory authority, heavily weighted towards the cult of religious environmentalism, can we expect the same treatment as those affected by the Tocks Island Dam Project? Will our lands, homes and businesses become a part of the history of the Upper Delaware River Recreation Area?

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