Dear Editor:

On behalf of The Nature Conservancy, I applaud members of Pennsylvania's congressional delegation for their hard work in securing $750,000 for the first land acquisitions at Cherry Valley National Wildlife Refuge.

I would particularly like to commend Sen. Arlen Specter and Sen. Robert Casey and Rep. Paul Kanjorski for their support of the Cherry Valley appropriation from the Land and Water Conservation fund. Rep. Charles Dent has also been a long-time steadfast supporter of the refuge.

Located along the Kittatinny Ridge in Monroe and Northampton counties, Cherry Valley is renowned for its unusual wetlands and its abundance of wildlife, including turtles, bats, birds, and fish. The Kittatinny Ridge is recognized throughout the world as an important migration corridor for hawks, falcons, eagles, and other birds.

The Nature Conservancy works with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and many local partners to advance the Cherry Valley Refuge, which was designated last December in response to a 10-year grassroots effort by residents of Cherry Valley and throughout the region. Literally, thousands of people have been involved in promoting the Cherry Valley National Wildlife Refuge, through Friends of Cherry Valley and other organizations.

Cherry Valley is the first refuge approved in the Northeastern United States in more than a decade and only the third refuge in Pennsylvania (there are 548 National Wildlife Refuges across the country).

Conserving special wildlife habitats such as Cherry Valley contributes to the quality of life here in Pennsylvania. Though the refuge will require years of additional effort and many more dollars, the $750,000 appropriation should be celebrated as a big step toward the protection of this world-class wildlife area.

Bud Cook

The Nature Conservancy

rcook@tnc.org