The Upper Lehigh River Basin from the Tobyhanna Creek will be designated as “exceptional value” and given the highest degree of protection as the result of action taken today by the Environmental Quality Board (EQB), according to Sen. Lisa Baker (R-20).
Baker said the EQB today approved the proposed rulemaking on the stream redesignations. Currently the streams are classified as a “high quality cold water fishery” — elevation to exceptional value is the state’s highest level of water quality and reflective of the unique ecological and aquatic value of these waters.
Approximately 251 miles of PA waterways would be elevated, Of these, 219 stream miles are attributed to the upper Lehigh River (and its tributaries) flowing through Lackawanna, Monroe, Wayne and Luzerne counties.
“This designation is critical to preserving this high quality water from overdevelopment and pollution,” Baker said, noting that the River Basin has some of the cleanest waters in Pennsylvania. “They provide great opportunities for recreational activities such as fishing, swimming and boating, as well as clean drinking water for local residents and communities downstream.”
Baker said an exceptional value designation is important because it provides much-needed protection to this sensitive waterway and will prevent new, additional or increased discharges from lowering water quality.
“With its native brook trout and brown trout populations, the Upper Lehigh River basin will continue to be a destination for anglers and an economic boost for our entire region,” Baker said. “This is particularly important for this vital natural resource because of the amount of growth and development going on in the area. The Lehigh River and its tributaries are an outstanding resource, with important ecological and recreational significance.”
She said the protected portion of the Upper Lehigh River Basin is located in Buck Township, Luzerne County; Tobyhanna and Coolbaugh Townships, Monroe County: Thornhurst, Clifton and Covington Townships, Lackawanna County; and Lehigh and Sterling Townships, Wayne County.
Baker credited the hard work of a number of local organizations who fought for the exceptional value designation, including North Pocono Care (Citizens Alert Regarding the Environment); the Brodhead Chapter of Trout Unlimited; the Lackawanna, Luzerne, Monroe and Wayne Conservation Districts, fishing and hunting organizations and local governments and individuals.
“This is a huge victory, not only for our area but for all those who enjoy the Upper Lehigh River Basis and want to preserve these beautiful waters for years to come,” Baker said. “This designation guarantees the highest level of protection for these streams and will ensure that they stay clean and healthy for many years to come.”
Contact: Jennifer Wilson