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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.
“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.