The River Unites Us
An interview with Bryan Cope by Sharon Davis
Bryan Cope is open space coordinator for Northampton County, PA and the chair of the Scenic Wild Delaware River (SWDR) Stewardship Council. This is one of a series of columns focused on the SWDR Geotourism Project, one of only 23 geotourism programs created by National Geographic worldwide.
How did you become involved with the SWDR geotourism initiative?
Cope: Working for Northampton County to protect and enhance the county’s environmental and recreational assets, I attended a partnership meeting for Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. I heard about this new geotourism initiative to help promote the type of tourism that I am working to build. It seemed like a natural fit. From that day forward, my work transformed to working on projects within Northampton County to enhancing an entire region.
Geotourism encourages travelers to experience a region’s unique natural, cultural, heritage and recreational assets. Can you speak to how the SWDR initiative does that in a region that extends 150 miles from Hancock, NY to Easton, PA and Phillipsburg, NJ?
Cope: The SWDR is ripe with areas and people that show the rich history of the region. Showcasing a tradition of building guitars at Martin Guitar to a historic event at Woodstock, connecting the arts throughout the region to finding that special fishing spot; whatever is your niche, you can find it within the SWDR region.
As open space coordinator in Northampton County, do you have data on how creation and preservation of green space and local historical sites improve the local economy and attract new investment?
Cope: Northampton County’s borders are some of its biggest economic contributors. To the north lie the Kittatinny Ridge and the Appalachian Trail. To the west—the Lehigh River. To the east—the Delaware River. To the south are the Pennsylvania highlands. We have over 300 miles of land and water trails, over 15,000 acres of preserved farmland and thousands of acres of public open space lands. All of these areas produce recreation opportunities, small business opportunities and natural system services. In Northampton County alone, an estimated $351.2 million is spent on outdoor recreation each year and $201.7 million in natural system services.
Give us a few “must see” places on our website, ScenicWildDelawareRiver.com, that you recommend for travelers.
Cope: A few that have caught my eye are kayaking the Delaware River; the farmland of Warren County, NJ; and Narrowsburg, NY, a very cool small town. I’ll be staying a night or two at ECCE Bed & Breakfast this fall [in Barryville, NY], and hopefully getting to Catskills Brewery [in Livingston Manor, NY].
[Sharon Davis is the Delaware River Program Manager of the National Parks Conservation Association, www.npca.org. This column is syndicated by the Blue Valley Times.]