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News Release No. 2

News Release

For Release: July 10, 2009    Contact: Donald S. Heintzelman


Federal government petitioned for

“Kittatinny-Shawangunk National Raptor Migration Corridor”

as a treasured landscape

      A working group of wildlife biologists and natural resource professionals announced today it submitted a formal petition to U. S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar asking him to designate a Kittatinny-Shawangunk National Raptor Migration Corridor. The full text of the Petition can be read on the Raptor Corridor Project website at .

      This landscape, containing 2,126,000 acres, consists of a 250-mile-long stretch of the Kittatinny-Shawangunk Ridge and its adjacent corridor that crosses parts New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. The Kittatinny-Shawangunk Ridge and Corridor begins at Rosendale, New York, and ends nearly at the Maryland border in Pennsylvania.

      Federal designation by Secretary Salazar will provide prestigious national recognition for a treasured landscape known around the world for its famous autumn raptor migrations. Raptors (eagles, hawks, and vultures), migratory forest songbirds, bats, and various other fauna annually use the ridge and corridor for their migrations.

      Securing federal designation for the area is unique. It does not currently exist in the United States or elsewhere in the world.

      There is also almost no governmental cost in making this designation. No land purchase or land use easements are necessary or planned.

      Designation of the Kittatinny-Shawangunk National Raptor Migration Corridor will not change any current local zoning codes or other state or national laws or regulations. However, the designation will give conservationists, land use planners, farmland trust and ecotourism advocates, and other interested people and organizations a conservation- and culturally-oriented tool for subsequent efforts to protect wildlife habitat, maintain farmland, highlight cultural and historic features, and enhance open space within the Kittatinny-Shawangunk Corridor.

      “This corridor designation will help underscore the tremendous science-based efforts underway to protect wildlife habitat and vital natural resources along the Kittatinny-Shawangunk Ridge, strengthening the efforts of all conservation partners involved and complementing local planning initiatives,” said Cara Lee, Director of the Shawangunk Ridge Program at The Nature Conservancy in New York, and a member of the working group.

      Although emphasis is placed on raptors, the working group is using the term “raptor” in a much broader umbrella sense to express concern about preservation and conservation of all biodiversity (flora and fauna) and landscape diversity including farmland within the Kittatinny-Shawangunk Ridge and corridor.

      Currently 255 agencies, non-profit organizations, companies, and individuals are endorsing this request from throughout New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, across the United States and around the world. The Raptor Corridor Project website contains a list of these endorsements.

      Members of Congress endorsing the petition are Senator Charles E. Schumer

(D-NY) and Congressman Maurice D. Hinchey (D-NY).

      Some notable national organizations listed include the American Bird Conservancy, Appalachian Trial Conservancy, Audubon International, Center for Biological Diversity, Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, Hawk Migration Association of North America, Hawk Mountain Sanctuary Association, Hawk Watch International, The Peregrine Fund, and the Roger Tory Peterson Institute of Natural History.

      Well known New York organizations listed include Adirondack Council, Audubon New York, Ithaca College (Environmental Program), New York State Ornithological Association, Inc., and Shawangunk Ridge Biodiversity Partnership (11 agencies/organizations). 

      Well known New Jersey organizations listed include Atlantic Audubon Society, Bergen County Audubon Society, Foodshed Alliance, Musconetcong Watershed Association, New Jersey Audubon Society, Passaic River Coalition, Sierra Club (Hunterdon Group), The Nature Conservancy in New Jersey, and The Wildlife Society (New Jersey Chapter).

      Some well known Pennsylvania organizations listed include Albright College (Department of Biology), Allentown Hiking Club, Appalachian Audubon Society, Audubon Pennsylvania, Baird Ornithological Club, Berks County Conservancy, Blue Mountain Preservation Association, Bucks County Audubon Society, Bucks County Conservation District, Central Pennsylvania Conservancy, Delaware River Greenway Partnership, Delaware Riverkeeper Network, Delaware Valley Raptor Center, East Stroudsburg University (Department of Biological Sciences), Friends of Cherry Valley, Greater Reading Convention and Visitors Bureau, Juniata Valley Audubon Society, Keystone Trails Association, Kittatinny and Pinnacle Association, Lehigh Valley Audubon Society, Lehigh Valley Convention and Visitors Bureau, Lehigh Valley Planning Commission, Millersville University (Department of Biology), Northeast Pennsylvania Audubon Society, Pennsylvania Game Commission, Pennsylvania Society for Ornithology, Pocono Heritage Land Trust, West Chester Bird Club, Inc., Wildlands Conservancy, and the Wildlife Information Center, Inc./Lehigh Gap Nature Center.

      The evolution from extensive hawk shooting prior to 1934 at Hawk Mountain, PA    (and prior to 1957 elsewhere along the Kittatinny Ridge in Pennsylvania), to this 21st century effort seeking Federal designation of the Kittatinny-Shawangunk National Raptor Migration Corridor as a treasured landscape, is noteworthy and dramatic. It vividly demonstrates the evolution of public thinking about the importance of raptors as vital components of wildlife communities and ecosystems.

      The birthplace of raptor migration science and hawk watching began in 1934 on the Kittatinny Ridge (Blue Mountain) at Hawk Mountain Sanctuary near Kempton in Berks County, PA. Today a series of raptor migration watchsites are established atop the Kittatinny-Shawangunk Ridge.

      From northeast to southwest they include The Mohonk Preserve near Rosendale, NY, Raccoon Ridge near Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, NJ/PA, Bake Oven Knob near Germansville, PA, Hawk Mountain near Kempton, PA, and Waggoner’s Gap near Carlisle, PA. Collectively these and some additional watchsites are strung like beads along the long, green Kittatinny-Shawangunk Ridge—a treasured landscape for hundreds of thousands people throughout the world.

      Today raptor biologists and hawk watchers make annual autumn raptor counts daily from mid-August to early December. Long-term data bases maintained at Hawk Mountain, Bake Oven Knob, and Waggoner’s Gap are essential in helping raptor biologists and ornithologists understand raptor migrations with increasing sophistication.

      All birds of prey are protected by state and federal laws. Schools, colleges and universities now take students on annual hawk watching field trips to some of the former hawk shooting sites to observe and study the migrating birds—one of the world’s great ornithological attractions.

      Ornithologist and author Donald S. Heintzelman from Zionsville, PA is the Chairman of the Raptor Corridor Project working group. He originated the idea for the Kittatinny-Shawangunk National Raptor Migration Corridor.

      Agencies and non-profit organizations with one or more representatives on the working group are the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, Global Owl Project, Hawk Mountain Sanctuary Association, Juniata Valley Audubon Society, Lehigh Gap Nature Center, Shawangunk Ridge Biodiversity Partnership, The Mohonk Preserve, and The Nature Conservancy in New Jersey.