The Upper DelAWARE River Roundtable is a networking initiative to foster communication and collaboration between regional partners and stakeholders in the Upper Delaware River Valley and provide tools and educational opportunities to enhance the future of this national natural resource.
The Roundtable brings together stakeholders on a bi-monthly basis to share information about regional initiatives and activities. The sessions are held at the Tusten Town Hall, in Narrowsburg, NY. The 2012 meeting schedule is March 15, June 7, August 2, October 4 and December 6.
The highly productive sessions have spawned numerous collaborations. Of special note is the creation and continual updating of a regional map, which shows existing development, proposed subdivisions over 20 units and preserved lands from the Delaware Water Gap, PA to the headwaters of the Upper Delaware in Delaware County, NY. Copies of the 23 x 35 inch map were distributed to municipalities through the eight county planning departments that make up the region.
Additionally, a digitized version, with layers for utility corridors, regional gas transmission lines and special areas is available at the Sussex County, NJ website.
Educational activities included hosting the Pace Law Center’s Land Use Leadership Alliance Training in the area. The four-day training program in the spring of 2009 provided 35 local officials, 17 from New York and 18 from Pennsylvania, with the opportunity to explore land-use strategies, consensus building, and regional stewardship. This was the first bi-state training session that Pace had presented and it was heralded as a useful regional community-building tool. Some participants of the program are now regular attendees at Roundtable meetings. An additional course began in April 2011, and has participants from New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania. A reunion/followup session for the first group of graduates was held at the end of January 2011.
Additionally, as natural gas drilling has become a hot topic for the area, Roundtable partners facilitated a whole-systems approach, hosting conversations between regulatory agencies about procedural gaps and workshops on how municipalities can strengthen their ability to influence how drilling happens within their borders. In 2010, the group facilitated the public vetting of the Pinchot Institute’s Marcellus Shale Resources report with stakeholders from all sides of the gas-drilling issue.
The beauty and productivity of the Roundtable is based on the concept that through communication, regional stakeholders and partners are collaborating on efforts that enhance the future of the Upper Delaware River Valley. The Delaware Highlands Conservancy (570/226-3164, www.delawarehighlands.org) provides an umbrella organizational structure. For more information, email email@example.com or call Laurie Stuart, Roundtable convener at 845/252-6626.