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The Open Space Institute Supports Expansion of Pennsylvania’s Cherry Valley National Wildlife Refuge

Image Credit: Bill Amos

MONROE COUNTY, PA (December 5, 2023)-- The Open Space Institute (OSI) announced that its Delaware River Watershed Protection Fund has supported The Nature Conservancy (TNC) in Pennsylvania and Delaware in acquiring nearly 80 acres in Monroe County, Pennsylvania, for addition to the Cherry Valley National Wildlife Refuge (NWR). The property, which has been transferred to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), is OSI’s eighth addition since 2014 to the Cherry Valley NWR, totaling more than 4,100 acres protected by OSI—nearly a quarter of the total size of the refuge.

The 22,000-acre Cherry Valley NWR, created in 2008, preserves critical habitat for migratory birds and threatened and endangered species. The Refuge is located within the Kittatinny Ridge Conservation Landscape, one of eight Conservation Landscapes designated by the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR). The Kittatinny Ridge is a globally important flyway for migratory birds, one of the most climate resilient landscapes within the Appalachians, and offers extensive hunting, fishing, and recreational opportunities for the public.

“The Open Space Institute is proud to continue our work in aiding in the expansion of the Cherry Valley National Wildlife Refuge and the protection of the Kittatinny Ridge focus area,” said Bill Rawlyk, OSI’s Mid-Atlantic Field Coordinator. “Not only does this area serve a critical function by filtering and recharging the Delaware watershed, it is also climate-resilient, providing safe habitat for wildlife in a warming world. OSI congratulates our partners at The Nature Conservancy for this conservation achievement.”

The transfer was facilitated with funding from DCNR and OSI’s Delaware River Watershed Protection Fund, which seeks to protect water quality in the Delaware River Basin. Launched in 2014 with funding from the William Penn Foundation’s Delaware River Watershed Initiative, the Fund has protected more than 21,000 acres of forested land to filter the Delaware River Watershed, a source of drinking water for approximately 15 million people — including residents of northeastern Pennsylvania as well as Trenton, Philadelphia, Wilmington, and New York City.

“The Cherry Valley National Wildlife Refuge is a vital mosaic of streams, wetlands, fields and forests that support vulnerable, threatened and endangered species,” said Lori Brennan, Executive Director for TNC in Pennsylvania and Delaware. “This acquisition continues to advance TNC’s distinguished legacy of conservation in the Upper Delaware headwaters and we remain committed to preserving Cherry Valley’s lands, waters, and trails for generations to come.”

TNC has worked with partners including OSI, local townships, Monroe and Northampton Counties, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the Conservation Fund, the Pocono Heritage Land Trust and the Wildlands Conservancy to add additional acres to the refuge. Today, the refuge features a wide variety of public recreation opportunities including hunting, fishing, wildlife observation, photography, and environmental education.

“The story of Cherry Valley National Wildlife Refuge is a story of friends and partners working together toward a common goal of land protection and habitat restoration,” said Mike Horne, USFWS Refuge Manager. “TNC has been a leader in this pursuit here in the valley since long before the refuge existed. While this milestone is worthy of celebration, we Iook forward to many more successful collaborative conservation efforts in the future.”

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