Celebrating National Park Service’s 100th Birthday in the Poconos

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SMITHFIELD TOWNSHIP, MONROE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) – Patrina Smith of East Stroudsburg is spending her summer day on the beach. Smithfield Beach that is, in the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area.

“I like it. It’s pretty nice. Its quiet, peaceful,” says Smith.

The Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area is popular for swimming, hiking, picnicking, and canoeing. It’s one of 412 places preserved by the National Park Service. And Thursday, the NPS turned 100 years old!

“We’re looking pretty good for 100!” says Kathleen Sandt, NPS Public Affairs Specialist.

Park rangers are stepping into a new century with big goals. Mainly, to continue preserving natural resources for families to enjoy, and hopefully attract younger Americans to the Parks. Since, according to a Park Service survey of visitors, fewer children and minorities are visiting National Parks nationwide.

“I think it depends on where you are who your visitors are. We are located in a great area. We’re just a little over an hour and a half outside of New York city and Philadelphia. And we are the National Park in the area for all those city folks,” Sandt explains.

Published reports say in these preserved areas there’s $12 billion dollars worth of maintenance projects needed, but not enough money to do them. NPS Public Affairs Specialist Kathleen Sandt says the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area can relate. The Park is working with a $10 million dollar budget.

“I would definitely say our needs exceed our budget,” adds Sandt.

In recent years the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area received $66 million dollars from a power line project. Some of that money has gone toward restoring historic buildings and buying more land. Park leaders say that money also paid to repair the Kittatinny boat launch, the McDade trail, and several bridges overlooking waterfalls. These important projects couldn’t have been accomplished through its federal budget.

“Everyday we come to work just like we do on our birthday and we do the best with what we have,” says Sandt.

Thursday through Sunday it’s free admission to all the National Parks.

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