A poll released this week by the Our Pocono Waters campaign finds that Poconos residents value the government’s protection of streams of “outstanding value” and want elected officials to take further steps to protect these waterways of large-scale commercial development.
Poconos residents expressed overwhelming support for protecting the region’s pristine waters (94%), particularly streams, which are considered clean enough to meet the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) requirements for exceptional value.
The Poconos region is fortunate to be home to some of the most pristine waterways in the Commonwealth. Of all streams marked as Exceptional Value, the highest possible rating, 80% are in the Poconos.
An overwhelming 77% of Poconos residents observed an increase in commercial development in recent years, while 67% expressed concern that increased development is having a negative impact on the water quality of Pocono-area streams.
Residents surveyed recognize that economic growth, environmental sustainability and personal well-being are intertwined. Exceptional value streams are having a tremendous impact on the quality of life in the Pocono Mountains region while providing significant economic opportunity through the thriving outdoor recreation and tourism sectors.
“The unique environment of the Pocono Mountains region depends on the enforcement of intelligent, environmentally responsible development practices that do not erode the quality of our streams and rivers,” said Donna Kohut, campaign manager for Our Pocono Waters. “Protecting our economy means protecting our streams and streams. We can – and must – have strong protection against clean flows while supporting local economic development.”
Pocono residents are largely opposed to developments that risk eroding the region’s precious water resources. A large cross-party majority of respondents (73%) said they would be more likely to vote for a political candidate who shares the common goal of protecting and preserving rivers and waterways of exceptional value from additional commercial development.
At a time when more than two in three respondents have seen greater commercial development in all counties in the region, nearly eight in ten agree that economic development should proceed as long as it is well planned and environmentally sustainable.
“The poll results align with what I consistently hear from residents: The natural beauty of the Poconos is a key reason they chose to live and raise their families here,” said Robert Heil, Supervisor of Hamilton Township (Monroe County). “Natural beauty fueled by clean water, green space and clean air makes our area such a special place to call home.”
“As a business owner, I fully support economic development in the Poconos,” said Sierra Fogal, operations manager and co-owner of Pocono Whitewater and Skirmish. “But we need development that ensures the preservation of our local rivers. Clean waterways are essential to create tourism demand and employment opportunities for all ages so future generations can experience outdoor recreation in the Poconos.”
Respondents made strong links between protecting clean water and economic opportunity – with 57% saying recreational activities related to clean streams have a positive impact on the local economy.
“Clean creeks have been an important driver of the region’s economy for decades,” said Emily Baldauff, Mid Atlantic organizer for Trout Unlimited. “The protection that comes with exceptional value stream status is critical to ensuring this economic engine continues to enhance the recreational access and opportunities that the Pocono Mountains offer—for decades to come.”
The survey was conducted on behalf of the Our Pocono Waters campaign by Susquehanna Polling & Research, one of the nation’s leading qualitative and quantitative research firms. The study included a total of 500 residents of Monroe, Carbon, Wayne and Pike counties who were reached by phone in late March.
PFBC Names Officer of the Year;
announces more award winners
The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) this week announced several awards given to employees in recognition of outstanding achievement.
The PFBC Bureau of Law Enforcement 2021 Officer of the Year Award was presented to Waterways Conservation Officer (WCO) Chad Doyle.
WCO Doyle, whose district includes SouthCentral Crawford and Eastern Mercer counties in the Northwest Region, is credited with establishing an exemplary boat under influence (BUI) and summary violation detection program in his district.
In 2021, Doyle successfully arrested four people for BUI, helped arrest three BUI arrests by other officers, and successfully investigated five environmental violations.
Additionally. Doyle investigated three boating accidents, including one fatal incident and one accident that damaged more than $200,000 to other boats and docks. PHOTO
That Top Gun Award was submitted to WCO Sean Lake.
This award is presented annually to a WCO that demonstrates outstanding efforts in identifying and apprehending impaired boaters.
Lake, whose district includes southern York County in the Southeast region, facilitated the arrest and prosecution of 20 people for BUI and assisted in an arrest by another officer in 2021. Most of the arrests occurred while Lake was navigating the Susquehanna River patrolled.
That Gerald L. Greiner Environmental Protection Award was presented to WZO Rachael Thurner-Diaz.
This award is presented annually to the WCO that best embodies the ideals of Resource First – the protection, conservation and enhancement of our Commonwealth’s aquatic resources.
In 2021, Thurner-Diaz, whose district includes Adams and West York counties in the Southcentral Region, investigated 12 environmental incidents, including four pollution incidents and eight waterway violation disturbances. A high-profile investigation in York County resulted in the offender paying over $50,000 in compensation.
A Life Saving Award was presented to WCO Justin Boatwright.
On February 9, 2022, Boatwright was attending a law enforcement meeting in Tiadaghton State Forest, Lycoming County, when cries for help were reported from the nearby mountain.
Employees from the Boatwright, Pennsylvania, Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and a state game warden from the Pennsylvania Game Commission responded to the area of the Waterville Rail Trail where the calls for help were located, and it was determined that one victim was having difficulty adapting to one steep slope above them covered with ice and snow.
Boatwright sprinted up the slope to help the victim, who said he was walking his dogs on the mountain when he fell and slid about 100 feet down the slope, believing he broke both his legs. The victim’s hand had turned purple when it was squeezed tightly by a band he had wrapped around his hand to help him cling to a small tree. Boatwright was able to relieve the pressure on the victim’s hand and help him hold on while he called for additional help. As they waited for other rescuers to arrive, the snow gave way under Boatwright and the victim, sending them sliding even further down the slope. In treacherous conditions, Boatwright secured the victim for several hours while coordinating with other rescuers who were eventually able to take the victim to a hospital for treatment. PHOTO
Governor’s Award for
The PFBC is honored to receive the Governor’s Award for Environmental Excellence for its online activities and education portal. In 2022, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection honored 15 projects statewide completed by schools, businesses, and community organizations that demonstrated creativity and innovation in improving the environment.
Originally developed in response to the challenges that COVID-19 guidance posed for teachers, parents, and the Pennsylvania fishing and boating community in 2020, the staff at PFBC Education have continued to expand the activities and education portal, making it a one- Environmental Education Stop Shop delivered a meaningful “fishing, boating and aquatic resource experience” to participants at home.
The Activity & Education Portal is a comprehensive resource for anyone interested in aquatic resources and fishing and boating opportunities across the Commonwealth, including videos, activities, printable documents, Pennsylvania League of Angling Youth (PLAY) newsletters, crafts, coloring pages, and background information , and more. Topics featured on the portal include boating and water safety; fishing, fly fishing and kayak fishing; habitat, watersheds and pollution; native fish species; amphibians and reptiles; and aquatic macroinvertebrates.
The portal also includes downloadable coloring pages and a variety of themed activities and educational packs. To make the content more accessible for users with visual impairments, the portal also includes Read Alongs with the PFBC audio versions of the most popular newsletters.
banded peregrine falcon
The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the Pennsylvania Game Commission ringed Harrisburg’s newest peregrine falcons this week.
A recording of the banding is available on DEP’s Facebook page www.facebook.com/PennsylvaniaDEP/.
“The hawks nesting atop the Rachel Carson State Office Building continue to be an environmental success story,” said DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell. “Without the environmental improvements in Pennsylvania, these birds would not have the track record that they have here at the Rachel Carson Building.”
Wildlife Commission biologist Patti Barber led a team to bring in the nestlings from the 15th floor ledge. Barber weighed the birds, assessed their health and tied them.
Banding the hawks allows biologists and bird watchers from across the continent to track the birds, helping us learn more about where they travel, how long they have lived and if they will establish new nests elsewhere. Hawks born on the Rachel Carson Building ledge have been tracked from Florida to Canada.
The peregrine falcon was removed from the federal endangered species list in 1999 and from Pennsylvania’s threatened species list in 2021, but remains protected federally under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and the state Wildlife and Wildlife Act.
Since breeding began in 2000, 83 hawks have hatched. This makes the Rachel Carson State Office Building nest site the most productive in the Commonwealth.