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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

New Release Program Proposed to Stop Flawed FFMP

PRESS RELEASE - May 5, 2009

New Release Program Proposed to Stop Flawed FFMP From Harming Upper Delaware River and Endangering Downstream Communities

Hancock, NY -- Friends of the Upper Delaware River called today for major changes to the schedule of releases from the New York City reservoirs. "The City's practice of hoarding water creates unnecessarily full reservoirs, deprives the river of flows needed to sustain the fishery and cold water ecosystem, and creates a dangerous flood risk potential all the way downstream to Trenton," said Dan Plummer, chairman of FUDR. Al Caucci, a noted author and expert on aquatic insects in the upper Delaware River and its tributaries, added, "The release pattern in April is especially damaging to aquatic life, fluctuating from 1500 cfs to 110 cfs and then back to 1500 cfs as the Cannonsville Reservoir goes from 100% to 99.9% and back to 100%. The last weekend in April releases to the West Branch were lower than they have been in years. Fishermen, businessmen, and flood victims wonder in amazement how officials could have come up with such a damaging plan!" Susan Alper, co-owner of the Bluestone Grill in Hancock lamented, "When the rivers go down, so does our business."

Low flows coupled with sunny hot weather over the last weekend of April caused temperatures downriver to climb to levels that stressed the trout and likely killed many of the cold water insects on which they feed. Dr. Robert Bachman, a fisheries biologist and commissioner of the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission, explained, "The trout begin to seek refuge in colder water and stop feeding as water temperatures reach or exceed 68 degrees F. Temperatures above this rapidly become lethal for cold water insects."

Commenting on New York City's reservoirs release program, Cathy Myers, deputy commissioner of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, said, "No one believes this schedule is ideal for fisheries management." She went on to state, "We remain committed to improving sustainability of this remarkable fishery," and noted that the fish commissions of both Pennsylvania and New York are working on joint recommendations, "to make better use of the water we have available for fish habitat enhancement."

Lee Hartman, vice president of FUDR, announced, "On April 20, we presented to New York City and the governors in the four basin states a comprehensive proposal for a new release schedule for the next year. This proposal does not rely on any water that the City needs for its water supply. For the sake of the river and the economy of this region, we urge the government parties to adopt and implement it as quickly as possible. The cold water ecosystem of this river cannot survive under the current management policies without the significantly greater releases provided by our proposal. In the past, the upper Delaware River has been a destination for thousands of anglers each year from across the country. The decline of this great fishery and its unique wild rainbow population would be a devastating loss for everyone."

For further information, contact Dan Plummer at (607) 363 -- 7848.