September 3, 2019

Event Celebrates Protection of More Than 4,300 Acres at Cherry Valley National Wildlife Refuge

NORTHAMPTON AND MONROE COUNTIES, Pa. — Today, a special event took place at the Cherry Valley National Wildlife Refuge (Refuge) celebrating the completion of a historic project conserving 4,350 acres of important wildlife habitat and increasing public recreational access in Eastern Pennsylvania. Federal, state, local and private partners gathered to applaud the multi-year effort that has established a core, protected area in the Refuge and secured more than five miles of the Appalachian National Scenic Trail.

Beginning in 2014, The Conservation Fund, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), and the National Park Service, together with various other partners, set out to acquire 4,350 acres of land from Pennsylvania-American Water Company for the Refuge. In 2017, The Conservation Fund transferred 1,731 acres to the USFWS. The remaining 2,619 acres were acquired by the Fund in June 2019 and have recently been conveyed to the Refuge with funding from the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF); voluntary mitigation dollars from Williams Companies; a grant from Pennsylvania’s Keystone Recreation, Park and Conservation Fund; and additional private support.

“Cherry Valley National Wildlife Refuge was established because people who cared deeply about the nature around them came together to make it happen. It is remarkable that the refuge has grown from its first acre in 2008 to the land acquisition milestone we celebrate today, only a decade later. We are deeply grateful for the public-private partnership that led to this conservation success, and for the unflagging commitment we share to protect this special place in the Delaware River watershed for both people and wildlife,” said Sharon Marino, acting chief of the National Wildlife Refuge System in the North Atlantic-Appalachian region.

“With recreational assets like the Appalachian Trail and the added benefits of watershed protection and wildlife habitat, this property offers a wealth of opportunity to both nature and people,” said Kyle Shenk, Pennsylvania state director for The Conservation Fund. “It’s a joy to celebrate this milestone with our partners and open up these lands for the public to enjoy.”

These important forests along the Kittatinny Ridge support a critical north-south corridor for migratory birds and species migrating in response to climate change. They also provide critical water quality benefits for communities within the Delaware River watershed. Over 15 million residents rely on the Delaware River for drinking water, including residents of Philadelphia and Trenton, N.J.

The Cherry Valley National Wildlife Refuge is open for public recreation and acts as a key driver for recreational tourism in Northampton and Monroe counties. With a stretch of the property located along the Appalachian National Scenic Trail, the newly conserved land will also expand opportunities for the Appalachian Trail Landscape Partnership, which aims to connect the wild, scenic and cultural wonders of the A.T. and its surrounding landscape.

“We at the National Park Service are thrilled that this important project is complete and that a total of 4,350 acres are now preserved and protected for future generations,” said Wendy Janssen, Appalachian National Scenic Trail Superintendent. “We want to thank all of the partners for their tireless efforts to make this last acquisition a reality.”

The final phase of this conservation effort was made possible in part with funding from the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund—a bipartisan, federal program that uses a percentage of offshore drilling revenue to fund onshore conservation projects at no cost to taxpayers. LWCF is funded annually by the U.S. Congress, including the Congressional delegation that represents Cherry Valley National Wildlife Refuge: U.S. Senators Bob Casey and Pat Toomey and U.S. Representative Susan Wild.

“I applaud the partners and leaders who worked to make the protection and expansion of wildlife habitat and recreation benefits possible at Cherry Valley National Wildlife Refuge,” said Senator Bob Casey (D-PA). “The Land and Water Conservation Fund provided critical funding for this project, and I will continue to fight for permanent and full funding for the LWCF so we can further invest in conservation and recreation needs here in Pennsylvania and across the country.”

“The Cherry Valley National Wildlife Refuge and the Appalachian Trail are incredible outdoor recreation and conservation areas, and I admire the hard work of The Conservation Fund, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Park Service, and their local partners on this project,” said Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA). “My staff and I look forward to working with these groups moving forward.”

“The unique beauty of America’s lands, waters, and wildlife is a defining characteristic of Pennsylvania, and it falls on us to protect this natural heritage,” said Rep. Susan Wild (PA-07). “Securing federal funding for conservation initiatives like this one is a priority for me in Congress, and I am proud to see such a successful, necessary project right here in my home district. This historic project not only addresses conservation needs in a changing climate, but renews our commitment to preserving our planet for future generations.”

Additional support to complete this effort was provided by Pennsylvania’s Keystone Recreation, Park and Conservation Fund; funding from Williams Companies in connection with the construction and operation of the Atlantic Sunrise natural gas pipeline project; the Open Space Institute (OSI) through its Delaware River Watershed Initiative, capitalized by the William Penn Foundation; OSI’s Northeast Resilient Landscapes Fund, capitalized by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation; the National Park Service’s Middle Delaware Mitigation Fund; the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) through Walmart’s Acres for America program; and Northampton County’s Livable Landscapes Program.

“The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources is proud to support this historic accomplishment,” said Pennsylvania Secretary of Conservation and Natural Resources Cindy Adams Dunn. “It truly is a monumental achievement when one considers the amount of acreage protected; the number of partners drawn together by a shared goal; and all the bird and other animal species that benefit.”

“At Williams, we have a track record of strengthening communities, and this project is a great example of how we successfully collaborate with conservation organizations and regulatory agencies to deliver meaningful, lasting environmental benefits that will be utilized and enjoyed by Pennsylvanians for generations,” said Alan Armstrong, president and chief executive officer of Williams. “Demonstrating the significant results that can be achieved through private-public collaboration is something Williams will continue to support as there are many more opportunities to provide a net positive benefit to the environment when we unite and focus on what we can do together.”

Opened in 2008, Cherry Valley National Wildlife Refuge was established in part to ensure the protection of the federally-listed threatened bog turtle, which can be found in wetlands throughout the valley. The new Refuge lands are an important part of Pennsylvania’s largest Important Bird Area, a globally-significant fall migration flyway used by tens of thousands of raptors and vultures and millions of songbirds. In addition, the forest habitat is one of the highest ranking in a statewide forest priority assessment, supporting breeding populations of cerulean warblers and other neo-tropical migratory bird species.

“This project is a thrilling victory in the effort to protect the forested source waters of the greater Delaware River, and the places that will continue to provide a haven for wildlife, even as the climate changes,” said Peter Howell, executive vice president of OSI. “It also represents the latest success in a longstanding effort to protect the Cherry Valley National Wildlife Refuge. We applaud the efforts of The Conservation Fund, along with its many partners including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Park Service, in bringing this effort to fruition.”

“Pennsylvania American Water is committed to being a steward of our environment and protecting our watersheds,” said Andrew Swope, vice-president and divisional general counsel, Pennsylvania American Water. “Preserving this land through our partnership with The Conservation Fund as part of the Appalachian Trail guarantees that future generations will benefit, as well as our mission to provide safe, clean drinking water.”

“Partnerships like Cherry Valley National Wildlife Refuge demonstrate that by working together we can preserve the natural places that Americans care deeply about,” said Jeff Trandahl, executive director and CEO of NFWF. “The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and Walmart through the Acres for America program are proud to support this sustained effort to protect important wildlife habitat and at the same time increase public access to the Appalachian Trail.”

About The Conservation Fund
At The Conservation Fund, we make conservation work for America. By creating solutions that make environmental and economic sense, we are redefining conservation to demonstrate its essential role in our future prosperity. Top-ranked for efficiency and effectiveness, we have worked in all 50 states since 1985 to protect more than eight million acres of land, including more than 140,000 acres of beloved natural lands across Pennsylvania at Gettysburg National Battlefield, Flight 93 National Memorial, Delaware River National Recreation Area, Michaux State Forest and across the Pennsylvania Wilds region.

About the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
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

Ann Simonelli | The Conservation Fund | 703-908-5809 | 
Terri Edwards | U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service | 413-244-4235 |