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The National Park Service preserves unimpaired the natural and cultural resources and values of the national park system for the enjoyment, education, and inspiration of this and future generations.
The Park Service cooperates with partners to extend the benefits of natural and cultural resource conservation and outdoor recreation throughout this country and the world.
The Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area encompasses 67,000 acres of mountain ridge, forest, and floodplain on both sides of the Delaware River in the states of New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Forty miles of the Middle Delaware River are within the park, as well as trout streams, lakes, ponds, and some of the highest waterfalls of either state. The park is home to black bear, timber rattlesnakes, bald eagles, and, recently, nesting peregrine falcons. Ecosystems include hemlock ravines with bountiful rhodendron and ridgetops with prickly pear cactus.
Though set aside as an area for outdoor recreation, the land of this park is also rich in history. A number of structures remain from early Dutch settlement and the colonial contact period. The entire region was a frontier of the French & Indian War. Historic rural villages from the 18th and 19th centuries remain intact on the New Jersey side, and landscapes of past settlements are scattered throughout the park.
In the 19th century, the village of Delaware Water Gap was a focus of the early resort industry fostered by the railroads. Even today the region is known for its vacation appeal.
The proposal to dam the Delaware River near today's Smithfield Beach brought the region and its inhabitants into another era of American history -- the conservation and environmental movements of the 1960s and later.
- Jennifer A. Kavanaugh
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