Study Assesses Feasibility of New National Wildlife Refuge in Cherry Valley

Service to Hold Public Meetings in November, Invites Public Comments Through December 5

Study Assesses Feasibility of New National Wildlife Refuge in Cherry ValleyMonroe County, Penn. – The findings in a report released by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) evaluate the potential for a new national wildlife refuge in Monroe County, Pennsylvania. The agency is accepting comments through December 5 on the proposed actions presented in the report, titled the Cherry Valley National Wildlife Refuge Draft Feasibility Study and Environmental Assessment. Two public meetings have been scheduled in the area:

Wednesday, November 19
Christ Hamilton Church, RD 4 Box 4293, Bossardsville Road, Saylorsburg (570/992-4085)
4:30 – 6:30 p.m.:  Informational open house
7:00 – 9:00 p.m.:  Brief presentation followed by public comments
Thursday, November 20
Stroudsmoor Country Inn, Ridgecrest Event Facility
RD 4 Stroudsmoor Rd., Stroudsburg (570/421-6431)
4:30 – 6:30 p.m.:  Informational open house
7:00 – 9:00 p.m.:  Brief presentation followed by public comments

In the report, the Service presents three alternatives, including its recommendation to establish a new wildlife refuge encompassing up to 20,466 acres in Cherry Valley. It also evaluates the merits of either establishing a more limited refuge boundary or taking no action. The alternatives are based on the findings from a year-long, Congressionally-mandated study evaluating the biological value of the fish and wildlife communities within Cherry Valley, and the environmental and socio-economic feasibility of establishing a national wildlife refuge in the area. More than 200 individuals participated in public meetings in March to identify issues considered in the study.

The report is online at http://www.fws.gov/northeast/planning/Cherry%20Valley/lcphome.html

Contact project planner Carl Melberg by phone (978/443-4661 ext. 32) or e-mail (Carl_Melberg [at] fws [dot] gov) to request the document in print or on CD. The document will be available for review at local libraries, town and county offices and other locations. Hearing-impaired individuals may call the federal relay service at 1/800/877-8339.

Comments may be submitted by e-mail to northeastplanning [at] fws [dot] gov; by fax to 978/443-2898; or by mail to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Attn: Carl Melberg, 73 Weir Hill Road, Sudbury, MA 01776.

After the public comment period is completed the document will be submitted to the Service’s headquarters for additional review and a final decision by the agency’s director. If a national wildlife refuge is eventually established in Cherry Valley, the Service would work with willing sellers to purchase their land outright or protect other lands through conservation easements.

On behalf of their constituents, 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. The legislation was in response to a petition advocating for refuge establishment endorsed by numerous community leaders and local elected officials in Monroe County. The 109th U.S. Congress approved the Cherry Valley National Wildlife Refuge Study Act in 2006, requiring the completion of the study. The final version of the report, available by January 2009, will fulfill this legislative mandate.

The Service worked in partnership with The Nature Conservancy (Conservancy) (www.tnc.org/pennsylvania) to establish baseline information as 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, National Park Service, Monroe County Planning Commission, Monroe County Conservation District, Northampton Community College, East Stroudsburg University and the 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 Maggie Price, his late wife who was a native of Monroe County.

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit www.fws.gov.


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