Hancock, N.Y.—Two busy boat launches on the West Branch of the Delaware River are closed after sustaining heavy damage during flooding in late June, and a river advocacy group is urging government officials to repair and reopen the sites as quickly as possible.
The public access sites on the Pennsylvania side of the river at Shehawken and Balls Eddy were damaged by flooding from recent relentless rains, including as much as 5 inches in some locales during a deluge on June 27 and 28.
The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission closed the sites due to the damage to both the parking areas and launch ramps. Friends of the Upper Delaware River has asked the agency to make their restoration a priority.
"These sites are critically important for public access and to the local economy,” said Jeff Skelding, executive director of FUDR, a nonprofit conservation group that acts as a river watchdog. “We need these access sites repaired quickly, and FUDR has already offered our assistance to Pennsylvania authorities.”
The access points offer parking for both boaters and wading fishermen. They are used frequently by the many commercial guide services that operate in the area, attracting tourists who frequent local restaurants and motels.
The Balls Eddy access ramp is located off Penn-York Road just north of Starlight, Penn. The Shehawken access is across the river from Hancock at the intersection of Pennsylvania routes 191 and 370. Shehawken is just upstream from the famous Junction Pool, where the West Branch joins the East Branch to form the Main Stem of the Delaware River.
FUDR has assisted in several Delaware River repair projects in recent years, and it is the sponsor of ongoing stream restoration projects near Hancock.
“These sorts of storms are happening with increasing frequency and intensity,” said Skelding. “The recent damage at Balls Eddy and Shehawken illustrates the importance of protecting and restoring our streams and rivers. Smart repairs to these sites and a preventative approach to river management upstream can mitigate damage in the inevitable future flood events."