Efforts to protect Cherry Valley’s clean water and critical natural resources took a big step forward recently thanks to passage of federal legislation appropriating $750,000 in funding for the Cherry Valley National Wildlife Refuge. The refuge — which is home to many raptors, warblers, the federally threatened bog turtle and a number of rare plant and animal species — will soon benefit from this funding, which will help The Nature Conservancy and other local partners protect Cherry Valley’s exceptional flora and fauna.
The Nature Conservancy applauds the members of Pennsylvania’s congressional delegation for their work in securing this appropriation, the first for Cherry Valley National Wildlife Refuge. In particular, Senators Arlen Specter and Robert Casey and Representative Paul Kanjorski are commended for their support of the Cherry Valley appropriation from the Land & Water Conservation Fund.
Funding for the refuge was included in H.R. 2996, the Department of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act for 2010.
Cherry Valley was approved as a National Wildlife Refuge in December 2008 when a study conducted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) identified priority lands and waters for possible protection. At the conclusion of the study the FWS determined that six federally listed species lived in or near Cherry Valley along with approximately 80 additional species and ecosystems of regional and national concern. As a result over 20,000 acres were approved for potential inclusion as a National Wildlife Refuge in Monroe and Northampton counties in the Pocono Mountains.
The funding will now provide the FWS with the opportunity to acquire the first pieces of land within the refuge’s more than 20,000 acre boundary area. Estimates are that the first project could be approved in early 2010. Already more than 100 of the 750 landowners in Cherry Valley region have expressed an interest in participating.
The refuge plan allows the FWS to purchase the lands outright or enter into conservation easements, which protect the land from future development but allow landowners the freedom to continue to use the land.
* The National Wildlife Refuge System, managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, is the world's premier system of public lands and waters set aside to conserve America's fish, wildlife and plants. Since President Theodore Roosevelt designated Florida's Pelican Island as the first wildlife refuge in 1903, the System has grown to more than 150 million acres, 550 national wildlife refuges and other units of the Refuge System, plus 37 wetland management districts.
Cherry Valley is just the third National Wildlife Refuge in Pennsylvania
* Source: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service