In October last year, FUDR filed Sixty Day Notices of Intent to sue the Towns of Hancock, Colchester, and Callicoon under provisions of the Clean Water Act. The purpose of this letter is to clarify our motives and plans at the time we filed and address some misconceptions that have arisen.

FUDR had no financial incentive when it filed the Notices nor would a favorable Court decision result in the implementation of our tributary restoration plan. Nor did FUDR have any financial incentive in sending the Notices – at best, the Court might grant FUDR some if its legal expenses. We did hope, however, that our filing would accelerate measures to repair the damage caused by the illegal channelizing that had taken place and we offered to meet with the Town leaders for that purpose. Unfortunately, to avail.

Some seven months before the June flood, FUDR together with a firm specializing in the field took the initial steps toward the development of a stream/floodplain restoration plan for the Upper Delaware. The first phase (the research phase) was estimated to cost $86,000. FUDR sought donations from several not-for-profit organizations to fund the research but FUDR never requested nor expected financial aid from Hancock or any other governmental body. We did, however, give copies of our proposal to Hancock and other government agencies and jurisdictions for their comments and suggestions.

Some observers have wondered if FUDR envisaged the use of Eminent Domain to implement its restoration program. We would have no legal standing in an eminent domain proceeding and would not favor its use in support of our program, believing that such an approach would be counter productive. Were FUDR to find itself in a position to move ahead with its plan, it would, perforce, have to work cooperatively with private and public property owners as we publically specified.. A partnership approach with all stakeholders (public and private landowners and local officials) has been and remains central to our thinking, and is was central to the proposal.

Others have asked if FUDR would seek the removal of towns or public highways, or even some villages, as part of its restoration plan. The answer, of course, is certainly not, nor was such an outlandish action ever suggested, nor would we have the authority to. Again we emphasize that a cooperative partnership approach was and is at the heart of our program.

The Delaware County Soil and Water Conservation District approached FUDR to ask for our support in connection with a grant proposal being submitted to the DEC. We agreed and sent a letter of support. Our discussions with the District did not deal with legal issues nor have we been strategizing with the supervisors of any of the neighboring towns. As we stated in our letter of support, the District should be applauded for their approach.

Recently, the NYCDEC has taken legal action against the Towns of Callicoon and Colchester in connection with the channelizing actions taken by those communities, and is “investigating” Hancock. At the same time, other organizations have announced plans to work with the Town (s) to insure that proper restoration takes place. We are pleased to see these initiatives and hope they will be successful.

Craig Findley
President Friends of the Upper Delaware River
Friends of the Upper Delaware River