by Anna Maria Caldara
Ratepayers must be convinced that the Susquehanna to Roseland 500kV Electric Transmission Line project is necessary. To that end, JCP& L and PP&L have lobbied President Obama, who has recommended it be “fast-tracked.”
Then maybe the vacationing public won’t notice the 195’ towers above the tree line of the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. Or the wholesale destruction of trees, wetlands, wildlife, and streams that occurs first.
It will be too late to remind the National Park Service that President Johnson created the DWGNRA by law on September 2, 1965 “…for preservation of the scenic, scientific, and historic features contributing to public enjoyment of such lands and waters.” And who will remember that JCP&L possessed no right-of-way or lines in this area, anyway?
Conservation of electricity has decreased power consumption along the targeted 140-mile corridor. The only “power emergency” is the power companies’ rush to pull the wool over the public’s eyes.
Can this get worse? Yes.
According to DWGNRA Acting Natural Resources Program Manager Amanda J. Stein, “There was no discussion or analysis in the Environmental Impact Statement specific to Lenape-related trees or Lenape stonework.”
The Lenape lived within the Delaware River region for 14,000-plus years. The Delaware River was the center of their homeland. Much evidence of their occupation and culture remains within the Park. To overlook this is to deny the legacy of one of the oldest and most peaceful civilizations to have graced Mother Earth.
These Original People skillfully manipulated trees to express spirituality, mark sites, and convey messages. Lenape author TreeBeard teaches that trees are strong spiritual entities that bring power to the land. As people encounter and study Native-related trees, they are exposed to the ethic of gratefulness, not greed, that governed Lenape life.
For almost ten years I have documented these trees on both sides of the Delaware River. Although several states recognize and protect Native-related trees by law, Pennsylvania and New Jersey do not. Nevertheless, future generations will be unable to experience these marvels of ingenuity after the bulldozers crush them.
The Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area is the deeded heritage of all Americans—indeed, all peoples. Why do the power companies have a green light to demolish what has been set aside for public recreation? How can they be allowed to ravage the landscape where the earliest people trod?
The Lenape ethos of gratitude and respect can save this region from the profit-driven threat of Susquehanna-Roseland. But not if the sacred trees are cut. Not if the cultural imprint of the Lenape is erased—again.