New research finds large support for clean water protection across the Poconos region, already home to the most protected streams in the Commonwealth.
May 11, 2022 – Poconos residents value state protections for “Exceptional Value” streams and want elected officials to take further steps to protect these waterways from large-scale commercial development, a poll released today by the Our Pocono Waters campaign finds.
Poconos residents voiced overwhelming support for protecting the region’s pristine waters (94 percent), particularly the streams considered so pure that they meet Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Exceptional Value requirements.
The Poconos region is fortunate to be home to some of the Commonwealth’s most-pristine waterways. Of all streams labeled as Exceptional Value, the highest possible rating, 80 percent are located in the Poconos.
An overwhelming 77 percent of Poconos residents observed increases in commercial development in recent years, while 67 percent expressed concern that greater development poses negative impacts on water quality for Pocono-area streams.
Surveyed residents acknowledge the reality that economic growth, environmental sustainability, and personal well-being are all intertwined. Exceptional Value streams have an enormous impact on quality of life in the Pocono Mountains region, while providing significant economic opportunities through the thriving outdoor recreation and tourism sectors.
“The Pocono Mountains region’s unique environment depends on enforcement of smart, ecologically-conscious development practices that do not undermine the quality of our streams and rivers,” said Donna Kohut, Our Pocono Waters campaign manager. “Protecting our economy means protecting our creeks and streams. We can – and must – have strong clean streams protections that simultaneously support local economic development.”
Poconos residents largely oppose developments that risk undermining the region’s precious water resources. A large bipartisan majority of respondents (73 percent) said they are more likely to vote for a political candidate who shares the common goal of protecting and preserving Exceptional Value streams and waterways from added commercial development.
At a time when more than two in three respondents have observed greater commercial development in every county across the region, nearly eight in ten acknowledge that economic development should continue, so long as it is well planned and environmentally sound.
“The poll results are consistent with what I hear from residents all the time: the natural beauty of the Poconos is a major reason why they choose to live and raise their families here. Natural beauty, driven by clean water, green spaces, and clean air, are what makes our area such a special place to call home,” said Robert Heil, Hamilton Township (Monroe County) Supervisor.
“As a business owner, I fully support economic development across the Poconos. But we need development done in a way that ensures preservation of our local streams,” said Sierra Fogal, operations manager and co-owner of Pocono Whitewater and Skirmish. “Clean waterways are essential to creating tourism demand and employment opportunities for all ages, allowing future generations to experience outdoor recreation in the Poconos.”
Respondents drew strong connections between clean water protections and economic opportunities – with 57 percent saying that recreational activities related to clean streams have a positive impact on the local economy.
“Clean streams have been a major driver of the area’s economy for decades. The protections attached to an Exceptional Value stream status are vital to ensuring this economic driver continues to enhance the recreational access and opportunities that the Pocono Mountains provide – for decades to come,” said Emily Baldauff, Mid Atlantic Organizer for Trout Unlimited.
The survey was conducted on behalf of the Our Pocono Waters campaign by Susquehanna Polling & Research, one of the nation’s leading qualitative and quantitative research firms. The study included a total of 500 residents of Monroe, Carbon, Wayne and Pike counties who were reached by phone in late March.
Our Pocono Waters is a campaign that advocates for the continued protection of the clean, Exceptional Value streams of the Pocono Mountains region. Learn more at http://www.ourpoconowaters.org.
Contact: Ben Block