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Fact Sheet

Fact Sheet

Kittatinny-Shawangunk National Raptor Migration Corridor Project

      The Kittatinny-Shawangunk National Raptor Migration Corridor Project is a unique, pioneering effort to secure from the federal government of the United States of America designation of the world’s first national raptor migration corridor—an important new conservation advocacy tool.

  • For more than 75 years, raptor biologists and conservationists, hawk watchers, and birders have known about and used the famous Kittatinny-Shawangunk Ridge and Corridor that crosses parts of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York.
  • This 250-mile-long, relatively unbroken ridge and corridor is one of the world’s most famous and important raptor migration flight-lines and corridors—part of the Appalachian Raptor Migration Flyway. The corridor consists of the Kittatinny-Shawangunk Ridge plus land extending out five miles from the north and south bases of the ridge.
  • This is the place where raptor migration watchsites such as Bake Oven Knob, Hawk Mountain, and Waggoner’s Gap in Pennsylvania, Raccoon Ridge and High Point State Park in New Jersey, and Bonticou Crag and Near Trapps Hawk Watch on the Mohonk Preserve in New York State are used for important raptor research, recreational, and/or educational purposes.
  • But ecologically and environmentally unwise land use activities continue to be proposed and/or used at some locations along the ridge and within the corridor.
  • In Pennsylvania, for example, a sports car race track may be constructed on the north slope of the ridge some miles upridge from Hawk Mountain and Bake Oven Knob.
  • A ski area wants to put a community-scale wind turbine on top of the ridge to generate electricity for its snow making machines. Both the Appalachian Trail and north forested slope of the ridge are still at major risk at both locations. A State Game Land also is at risk adjacent to the ski resort.
  • Slowly increasing numbers of housing developments, shopping malls, quarrying, logging, and other land development activities are being placed in some environmentally sensitive locations in the corridor resulting in ecological degradation of the land.
  • Communications towers are slowly beginning to appear on the ridgetop in some locations posing both radiation and lethal impact risks to migrating birds—especially migrating nocturnal Neotropical songbirds.
  • Gas pipeline right-of-ways expansion, and electric utility line rights-of-way creation and/or expansion also are occurring.
  • It is increasingly important, therefore, that conservationists promptly seek ways to call public attention to these and other threats to the ridge and environmentally sensitive parts of the corridor, and develop increased public appreciation and concern for the vitally important ridge and corridor.
  • To date 253 endorsements have been received supporting the Kittatinny-Shawangunk National Raptor Migration Corridor Project.

Why Have Federal Designation For A

Kittatinny-Shawangunk National Raptor Migration Corridor?

      Several persons and organizations asked why there should be federal designation for a Kittatinny-Shawangunk National Raptor Migration Corridor, and what legal land use protections it would provide for the ridge and adjacent land within the corridor. The following are answers to these and related questions.

  • Federal designation for the ridge and corridor will provide national attention, increased appreciation, and prestige to the ridge and adjacent land which collectively form the raptor migration corridor. It is a major conservation advocacy tool.
  • Securing federal designation for the ridge and corridor is also about recognizing a treasured landscape.
  • These areas are important stopover habitats for migratory raptors and various migratory forest interior songbirds.
  • Some raptor species also nest in sections of the corridor including Broad-winged Hawks, Red-tailed Hawks, American Kestrels, and Peregrine Falcons.
  • Some migratory forest interior songbirds also nest in sections of the ridge and corridor.
  • The term “raptor corridor” provides an umbrella for overall conservation advocacy for the ridge and corridor. That’s because this ridge and corridor is internationally known for its raptor migrations.
  • There will be virtually no expenses involved in making such a federal designation by the Secretary of the Interior.
  • There will be no legal changes in currently existing land use laws and regulations for land contained within the corridor.
  • There will be no required changes in private land ownership for land within the corridor.
  • Nevertheless, having federal designation for a Kittatinny-Shawangunk National Raptor Migration Corridor will provide important benefits similar to those already existing for important historic sites and buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places (but without having the financial incentives provided for owners of buildings or sites included on the National Register), and having important habitats listed as National Natural Landmarks.
  • Having federal designation for a Kittatinny-Shawangunk National Raptor Migration Corridor will cause local and regional governmental officials and planning commissions to rethink before allowing unwise or inappropriate land use activities in sensitive ecological or environmental locations within the corridor.
  • Having federal designation also might encourage local, county, and even state governments to enact stronger land use laws and regulations that can help protect and preserve the most important and ecologically and environmentally significant locations and habitats within the corridor.
  • Currently there are no other existing National Raptor Migration Corridors in the USA. Therefore, securing this federal designation for the Kittatinny-Shawangunk Ridge and Corridor will be innovative and breaking new conservation ground.
  • It will serve as a model for eventual designation of similar migration corridors at appropriate locations elsewhere in the USA and perhaps overseas.
  • The science package supports the formal Petition for the raptor corridor designation that will be sent to the new Secretary of the Interior in late June or early July 2009. The package will include the detailed formal Petition, photocopies of endorsement letters received up to that time, an extensive bibliography of published articles and notes (scientific and popular) pertaining to the Kittatinny-Shawangunk Ridge and Corridor, a GIS-generated map, representative photographs, a legal brief, and perhaps other items.

More about the Petition and Science Package

      The formal Petition and related science package submitted to Secretary of the Interior Salazar contained the following components.

  • A thoroughly documented 75+ page Petition building a very strong case for approving the requested federal designation.
  • Photocopies of all endorsement letters contained in the file.
  • A bibliography of pertinent books and articles pertaining to the Pennsylvania, and New Jersey and New York, sections of the ridge and corridor.
  • A GIS-generated boundary map of the ridge and corridor.
  • Photographs of representative sections of the ridge and corridor, raptors, and songbirds.

Revised and updated: 29 June 2009 

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