Protecting One of Pennsylvania's Few Remaining Pristine Watersheds
North Pocono CARE is a volunteer organization dedicated to preserving the beautiful, natural environment of the North Pocono area. Our activities fall into three broad categories. We conduct educational programs, handle water quality monitoring, and take such other actions as are appropriate to preserve our river system.
Educational programs have included presentations on the birds of the Pocono Plateau, the importance of streamside buffers, the threat of invasive species, and the collection and identification of macroinvertebrates. Diversity thrives in this watershed.
Volunteers actively conduct stream monitoring at eight locations along the Lehigh River and its tributaries. Currently we test water temperature, dissolved oxygen, pH, conductivity and nitrate-nitrite on a monthly basis and we may add additional parameters in the future. In addition, we examine the macroinvertebrate community on the Lehigh River and some tributaries on an annual basis with the assistance of Aquatic Resource Consulting.
North Pocono CARE received a Growing Greener Grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection in 2002. Funds from DEP, as well as technical assistance from the Consortium of Scientific Assistance to Watersheds, have helped to make these programs possible.
Other Protective Activities
After examining the water quality monitoring results by DEP and others, North Pocono CARE concluded that the headwaters of the Lehigh River and its tributaries were actually of a higher quality than they were rated. Under these circumstances, there is a process provided by the State to change the rating. North Pocono CARE put together the necessary scientific petition to have these waters recognized at the highest level in order to protect this water quality. The petition was accepted for study by the Environmental Quality Board. The Department of Environmental Protection made an independent assessment of the waters and the Environmental Quality Board granted the petition, classifying over 219 stream miles as Exceptional Value.
More recently, we have actively participated in administrative proceedings, both before the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission and the Environmental Hearing Board, in order to safeguard our environment. In the EHB proceeding, we challenged the adequacy of the storm water permit granted by DEP to an industrial park, resulting in a settlement providing greater storm water controls.
In the PUC proceeding, we intervened to protest the route and methods of construction of a high voltage transmission line through the North Pocono area, slated to cross more than 20 exceptional value tributaries to the Lehigh River, many of which are wild trout streams. Both challenges resulted in greater protections for the headwaters of the Lehigh River.
Our job is far from over. The transmission line must now be permitted by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and it is important that we keep a professional eye on this process.