Northeast Pennsylvania’s Cherry Valley encompasses a wide variety of habitats, topography and wildlife. Stretching from Wind Gap to the Delaware Water Gap, Cherry Valley is flanked by the Kittatinny Ridge, part of a 185-mile intact and forested wildlife superhighway and renowned bird migration flyway that attracts more than 20,000 hawks, eagles and falcons each year. This vast and mostly rural landscape also boasts fens and bogs, forests and meadows, farms and fields, and a native brook trout stream that flows into the Delaware River.
Conserving Cherry Valley
The Nature Conservancy’s first foray in Cherry Valley involved land acquisitions beginning in the late 1990s. Later, TNC bought a large farm, negotiating the Valley's first farmland preservation easement. The Conservancy leases the farm to Russell Blakeslee, who manages the land to benefit wildlife, especially grassland bird species like bobolink, and yield crops that generate an income for his family.
Over the years, TNC also stepped up efforts to acquire land and conservation easements throughout Cherry Valley after the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service listed a resident species—the northern bog turtle—as federally threatened. Today, TNC owns and manages eight properties and conservation easements in Cherry Valley that collectively represent the landscape’s ecological diversity.
At Hartman’s Cave, TNC works with the Pennsylvania Game Commission to monitor bat populations that have suffered significant losses since the arrival of deadly white nose syndrome. In recent years, surveys have shown a modest increase in bat populations, likely due to gating caves, conserving surrounding habitat and the evolution of stronger genetics passed on to new generations of bat species.