Now we can move forward with protecting the environment, the animals that inhabit it, and its rich history.
Monroe County, PA (Vocus) December 23, 2008
The Friends of Cherry Valley and The Nature Conservancy congratulate the Cherry Valley community, U.S. Representatives Paul E. Kanjorski and Charles W. Dent, and H. Dale Hall, Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, for their foresight and leadership in establishing a National Wildlife Refuge to protect Pennsylvania's rare and beautiful Cherry Valley.
The Fish and Wildlife Service announced Dec. 23 that the Service has approved a new national wildlife refuge in Cherry Valley by establishing a boundary for the refuge that encompasses 20,466 acres in Monroe and Northampton counties in Pennsylvania's Pocono Mountains. Within this boundary, the Service may now acquire, from willing sellers, lands to be included in the National Wildlife Refuge System.
The Cherry Valley National Wildlife Refuge will benefit not only rare plants and animals, but also a landscape of working farms and private homes woven throughout a beautiful valley only 75 miles from Philadelphia and Manhattan. It is the first wildlife refuge to be established in the Northeast in nearly a decade, and only the third national refuge in Pennsylvania.
"The Cherry Valley National Wildlife Refuge will protect a rare and important landscape for both people and nature," said Bill Kunze, Pennsylvania state director for The Nature Conservancy, which has been working to protect this region for more than 15 years. "We're very happy for the people of Cherry Valley, who have loved this land for generations, and have worked hard to bring this refuge to life," Kunze said.
Debra Schuler, president of the Friends of Cherry Valley, said "The establishment of the Cherry Valley National Wildlife Refuge will now give conservation-minded landowners the additional option that has been needed to assist them in preserving their land as a legacy for future generations.
"Cherry Valley is such a unique place! Much of it has remained un-touched, which is why it has the qualities it does," Schuler said. "Now we can move forward with protecting the environment, the animals that inhabit it, and its rich history."
According to the refuge plan, the Service would be authorized to purchase some land outright and protect other acres through voluntary conservation easements, preserving not only habitat for the rare plants and animals, but also the scenic rural landscape of working farms and private homes throughout the valley. Only willing sellers will be involved in the project.
"This project will enhance and reinforce what is already being demonstrated in Cherry Valley - that people and wildlife can indeed live in harmony with each other," said Bud Cook, senior project manager for the Conservancy's Pocono Mountains project. ."
The refuge proposal has had strong support from a local conservation group - Friends of Cherry Valley - and other residents of Cherry Valley, many of whom spoke in favor of the refuge during public meetings last month. "This proposal has moved from dream to reality because of strong support from the local community and their Congressional representatives," Cook said.
The refuge will be developed over many years. When it is completed, it will protect an area that stretches west from the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area and encompasses a stretch of the Appalachian Trail and the slopes of Kittatiny Ridge, a globally important flyway for birds of prey. Thousands of bald eagles, broad-winged hawks and other raptor species pass through this area during their annual fall migration. Numerous neo-tropical songbird species, such as Cerulean warbler, nest in the forests along Kittatinny Ridge.
The Cherry Valley area harbors several federally endangered species, including northeastern bulrush and, in the Delaware River nearby, dwarf wedge mussel. Endangered bog turtles make their home in the valley, as do rare plants including spreading globeflower, a member of the buttercup family, and Grass-of-Parnassus.
Strong support from the Cherry Valley community and its elected leaders in state and federal government was credited with helping move the refuge project to success.
U.S. Representatives Paul E. Kanjorski (Penn.-D-11th) and Charles W. Dent (Penn.-R-15th) co-sponsored a bill in 2005 to consider Cherry Valley as a prospective national wildlife refuge. A year later, Congress approved the Cherry Valley National Wildlife Refuge Study Act, requiring the completion of the study. The proposal was also endorsed by U.S. Senators Bob Casey and Arlen Specter, Gov. Edward Rendell, Secretary Michael DiBerardinis of the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, and Dr. Doug Austen, executive director of the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission.
The Conservancy (http://www.nature.org/pennsylvania) has been working to protect this region for more than 15 years. When the Service was asked to evaluate the potential for a refuge, it tapped the Conservancy to lead the team of experts who established the scientific foundation for the study. The full study team includes representatives from the Service, the Conservancy, Pennsylvania Game Commission, Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, Monroe County Conservation District, Monroe County Planning Commission, National Park Service, East Stroudsburg University, Northampton Community College, the Pennsylvania Natural Heritage Program and Pocono Avian Research Center.
The Conservancy also received financial assistance supporting the study through a major gift from John S. Potter, Jr., in memory of Margaret Price Potter, his late wife who was a native of Monroe County.
The Nature Conservancy is the leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. To date, the Conservancy and its more than one million members have been responsible for the protection of more than 15 million acres in the United States and have helped preserve more than 102 million acres in Latin America, the Caribbean, Asia and the Pacific. Visit us on the Web at nature.org
The Nature Conservancy
(614) 787-5545 (cell)