By Susan Monteleone
DAMASCUS, PA July 26, 2005 With an eagle soaring above the blue skies and the Delaware River flowing smoothly past, the director of the National Park Service could not have asked for a better day to visit the upper Delaware River valley.
NPS Director Fran Mainella visited the area this past weekend for several meetings, the highlight of which was a scenic river trip on the Delaware River on Sunday.
Mainella is the 16th director and the first woman to lead the National Park Service and has over 30 years of experience in parks and recreation.
Standing at the access in Damascus, Pa. right across the river from Cochecton, Mainella said she firmly believes that conservation better serves both park resources and people through partnerships and is strengthened with volunteers and outreach programs.
Providing her chariot a tandem kayak was Eric Orr, general manager of Landers River Trips, along with owner Rick Lander.
Before heading downriver, Orr noted, "This is the first time that Ms. Mainella will be in such a kayak and also her first time on the Delaware, and we are very proud at Lander's to make her trip the best it can be. She will be launching off from the Damascus landing, going down to Skinners Falls and then docking, where she will change vessels and go over the falls in a regular canoe. In total, Ms. Mainella will be taking a three-and-a-half-mile river trip."
"It is truly a pleasure to help make Ms. Mainella's first Delaware River trip a great one. She has a great day for it, and she really is a great person," added Lander.
Sandy Schultz, the assistant superintendent of the Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River, paddled along and noted, "We are so thrilled that Ms. Mainella has come to our area. It is a beautiful area, and I am so glad she is seeing so much of what there is to offer here. She is a very enthusiastic individual, and she will continue to do great work."
Mainella herself enjoyed her trip away from Washington, D.C.
"This is my first time on the Delaware, and it looks like a lot of fun, she remarked. I am so impressed what is being done around this area. You have so many groups working together to ensure the beauty of the Delaware River as well as its surrounding communities.
I attended Riverfest this morning, and it was awesome, she continued. The people in the area are just great, and it is nice to see everyone coming together and achieving a goal as one. The Delaware River has so much to offer, and working together like everyone is, I know the river's future is well protected."