Businesses, Community Members Launch the Pledge to Defend Our Pocono Waters Campaign

Media Contact: Jared Stonesifer stonesifer@pennfuture.org (412)456-2372

A partnership of businesses, clean water advocates and outdoor recreation enthusiasts are raising awareness of the role of Exceptional Value streams for the resiliency and future success of the Pocono Mountains region.

Recognizing the health, social and economic benefits that local streams provide for the region’s recovery, Our Pocono Waters is launching a new pledge campaign to demonstrate the broad base of support for clean water protections.

Partners who have stepped up to pledge to defend the region’s waterways include outfitters, breweries and other small business leaders, as well as fishing, conservation and environmental groups. Community members, tourists, and other supporters are asked to join the pledge and share why clean stream protections should be maintained.

Pledge to defend Our Pocono Waters

“Now more than ever, we need to defend the exceptional waterways of the Pocono Mountains region. Our communities rely on them. Our small businesses thrive on them. It’s paramount that we protect them, now and into the future,” said Emily Baldauff, campaigns director at PennFuture and lead organizer of the Our Pocono Waters campaign. “The recent surge in visitors to outdoor areas of the Poconos region further shows us the important role of clean water in our lives. Exceptional Value streams are truly the lifeblood of the Pocono Mountains region.”

The Our Pocono Waters campaign has previously called on local officials to publicly support the ability for the PA Department of Environmental Protection and Environmental Quality Board to safeguard Pocono streams through appropriate Exceptional Value designations. The 2018 campaign collected more than 3,300 petition signatures from across the Poconos community.

While only 2 percent of Pennsylvania streams are Exceptional Value — the classification granted to the cleanest streams with highest quality of water — 80 percent are located in the Poconos Mountain region, primarily within Monroe, Pike and Wayne counties. These include many headwaters to the upper and middle sections of the Delaware River. Exceptional Value streams support some of the country’s premiere wild trout populations, offering recreational benefits, natural beauty and other important ecosystem services.

“The Poconos region has many attractions, but none so valuable as these pristine mountain streams that provide for recreation and an irreplaceable beauty for everyone to enjoy,” said Todd Burns, a member of the Brodhead Chapter of Trout Unlimited. “These streams are more than just thin blue lines on a map. They’re home to wild brown trout and the native eastern brook trout, the Pennsylvania state fish. That’s why I pledge to protect and defend our Pocono waters.”

Outdoor recreation and other tourism activities continue to drive the economy of the Pocono Mountains region. Exceptional Value streams are at the heart of what makes the region such a tourism destination.

“This whole area depends on tourism, and if our waters stay clean, we can continue to have a tourism-based economy,” said Sierra Fogal, guide manager at Pocono Whitewater and Skirmish. “My dad and uncle started our whitewater rafting company 43 years ago. My cousins, my brother and I are continuing the tradition to run this family business. We really love what we do. We hope to continue it on for generations to come. I want the rivers and streams of this region to stay protected for now and forever.”

The Our Pocono Waters pledge campaign is asking supporters who value the exceptional streams to Sign the Pledge and share their stories of why they value the exceptional waters of the Pocono Mountain region.

Our Pocono Waters is unifying the community while educating citizens, business leaders and local leaders about the importance of protecting “Exceptional Value” streams, highlighting the many ways that clean streams and economic development coexist in a region known for its natural beauty and booming tourist industry.


Letter: Communities Benefit from Clean Streams

By Christopher Byrnes, Chestnuthill Township

Originally published in The Morning Call

With the weather finally feeling like spring, I venture to wild trout waters in the Poconos and Lehigh Valley. How lucky are we to have clean, healthy waters flowing through a beautiful stretch of country. Each spring I’m awestruck, now more so, as I see these places through my children’s eyes.

These places are fragile, though. This month a truck overturned along Pocono Creek where Trout Unlimited and its partners spent years restoring stream habitat. Thousands of pounds of plastic pellets spilled onto the banks and into the water. I was proud to see so many volunteers brave the elements to clean up this mess.Promote health. Save lives. Visit who.int

We all need to band together to keep our streams clean, respected and protected. These waters are ours to enjoy, and it is our responsibility to keep them healthy. Rhetoric aside, there’s no need to choose between conservation and economic growth. By working together, our economy, our streams and our communities continue living in harmony.

We need clean water to survive, and we all benefit from a healthy, sustainable economy. Our community should continue to celebrate protection of our streams and firmly reject threats to our clean water. Wild places contain value greater than any cost-per-acre measurement.

Letter: Thanks for Creek Clean-Up

By Todd Burns, President, Brodhead Chapter Trout Unlimited

Originally published in the Pocono Record

It’s April — the start of a new fishing season for anglers like me. As I venture out onto the wild trout waters of the Poconos, I marvel at how lucky we are to have such clean, healthy waters flowing through a beautiful stretch of country. I’ve spent decades fishing these streams and after every winter, it’s a welcome return to the forest.

But these places are fragile, as we saw this month when a truck overturned along the headwaters of Pocono Creek, a creek in which Trout Unlimited and its partners have spent years restoring stream habitat. Thousands of pounds of tiny plastic pellets spilled onto the banks and into the water. I was proud to see 90 citizens come out on a cold, rainy Sunday to clean up the mess, bit by plastic bit. I thank all those who participated.

As a community we must continue to band together to ensure that our streams are clean, respected and protected. These streams are ours to enjoy, and it is our responsibility and our duty to protect them. As local economies naturally expand, the tendency will be to relax the protections that have ensured the current, pristine nature of our streams. We must acknowledge that there is no need to choose between the economic growth and environmental conservation. The last few decades have demonstrated that growth in the Poconos can co-exist with these protections. We must work together so that our economy, our streams, and our residents continue to live in harmony.

We all need clean water to survive and thrive, and we all benefit from a healthy — and sustainable — economy. We should continue to celebrate protection of our streams, and firmly reject threats to our clean waters.

Clean Water and Responsible Development are a Natural in the Poconos

By PennFuture President and CEO Jacquelyn Bonomo

Originally published in the Pocono Record

The streams, forests and mountains of the Poconos are nothing short of legendary, and these natural jewels have enabled businesses and tourism to flourish for decades.

This is why – as the state’s watchdog for clean air, pure water, and a healthy climate – PennFuture finds it important to respond to the Feb. 16 full-page ad in the Pocono Record, that decries, rather than celebrates, the state’s recognition that area streams have exceptional water quality. 

It is easy for citizens to be fooled by the false choice between economic development and a clean environment. It’s a trap that polarizes communities into endless disagreements when, in fact, the history of this very region demonstrates that a clean environment, properly respected, promotes economic development. 

The history of the Poconos is a history of residents that have viewed nature as an integral part of our community, to be used with love and respect, rather than as a commodity to be consumed with no effect on our community. Our foresight in protecting and respecting the environment is what has enabled businesses to draw millions of dollars to the local economy. Visitors come to ski in our mountains, fish in our streams, camp in our parks and walk on our trails. These visitors support local business because of the natural environment, not in spite of it. Famed conservationist Aldo Leopold referred to this view of nature as the land ethic, a philosophy that simply recognizes the interdependence between people and nature – that we, the land and men and women, are part of the same community.

The Poconos has served as a peaceful escape for everything that nature offers: places for quiet contemplation, vigorous hiking, thrilling hunting, and other activities that allow families to laugh, explore and play. Water slides, zip lines and ski slopes have flourished because of the surrounding natural environment. There is no need to choose between conservation of the environment and growth of our economy: we can have both. For that reason, our community should continue to celebrate protection of our streams, and firmly reject the notion that our community should be developed separately and apart from protection of our environment. We need both. 

Through our Poconos office and staff, PennFuture looks forward to working with local business owners to build relationships and shared goals that will contribute to the natural beauty of our area, and successful, responsible development in the Poconos.