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Our Pocono Waters Forum Educates Community on Clean Streams

On Oct. 30, Our Pocono Waters Campaign hosted a panel forum discussion at East Stroudsburg University’s Innovation and Entrepreneur Center. Six panelists from across the Commonwealth came together to educate the public about Exceptional Value (EV) and High Quality (HQ) stream classifications, and why they are important to the Poconos region. More than 110 members of the Pocono Mountains and Lehigh Valley communities attended the forum. 

The program consisted of opening remarks from PennFuture’s President and CEO Jacquelyn Bonomo, with closing remarks from Trout Unlimited’s Mid Atlantic Organizer Rob Shane.

The rest of the night involved two separate panel discussions. The first panel was moderated by Abigail Jones, PennFuture’s Staff Attorney. Jones asked panelists many questions pertaining to regulatory items relating to stream designations. The panel was privileged to have Robert Weber of the PA Fish and Boat Commission’s unassessed waters program, Paul Wilson, Ph.D, a professor from ESU, and Chuck Gould from Chestnuthill Township, Monroe County, all talking about this important topic. This panel covered everything from macroinvertebrates to township regulations and developments that were not affected by stream upgrades, to programs in place in PA to assess every moving water body in order to enhance and protect the waters of the Commonwealth. 

The second panel focused on users of exceptionally clean streams. Faith Zerbe of Delaware Riverkeeper Network played the role of moderator for this panel. Fred Gender, a local angler & property owner; Gary Leander, a local canoeist; and Gary Bloss, a local business owner of Josie Porter Farms, discussed their experiences recreating on and owning businesses that rely on the Poconos’ exceptional value and high quality streams, along with their positive interactions with tourists who come to the Poconos for its beauty, fresh air, and elite fishing and boating waters. Fred and Gary had very similar experiences living in the acid mine drainage affected areas of PA and full heartedly expressed how thankful they are for the privilege to come to the Poconos to utilize the pristine fishable and swimmable rivers and streams that flow to the Delaware River. 

As the attendees funneled out of the door of the Innovation Center, many different conversations were arising and continuing.

The conversation about EV stream designations will continue between Our Pocono Waters Campaign and the citizens of the Pocono Region to educate about the importance of these protected waters and how showing support for protecting them will increase their value to the region, while still supporting responsible development and economic growth. 

Our Pocono Waters Campaign is unifying the community while educating citizens, business leaders, and local leaders about the importance of protecting “Exceptional Value” (EV) streams, highlighting the many ways in which clean streams and economic development coexist in a region known for its natural beauty and booming tourism industry. Clean streams are at the heart of the Poconos, where 80 percent of the state’s EV streams are located, primarily in Monroe, Pike, and Wayne counties. For more information visit

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