DCNR to Acquire 2,650-Acre Addition To Lackawanna State Forest

October 28, 2010

Lackawanna State Forest

Lackawanna State Forest. Photo by Nicholas A. Tonelli/Flickr

Thornhurst Township, Lackawanna County, PA — Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) Deputy Secretary Cindy Dunn today joined representatives of The Conservation Fund, Monroe County Commissioners, The Nature Conservancy, Wildlands Conservancy, Pennsylvania Environmental Council and delighted township supervisors and residents in applauding acquisition of 2,650 acres that will expand the Lackawanna State Forest to more than 30,000 acres.

Located along the Lehigh River and Choke Creek, the land encompasses sections of Luzerne, Lackawanna and Monroe counties. The Conservation Fund, working in partnership with other public and private partners, acquired the tract from Blue Ridge Real Estate, Blakeslee, and will eventually transfer it to DCNR as a permanent addition to Lackawanna State Forest.

“Thanks to efforts of The Conservation Fund and others, some of the most pristine headwaters of the Delaware River now will be included in the Lackawanna State Forest, and their extraordinary natural and wildlife resources will be protected for future generations,” Dunn said, speaking at a ceremony hosted along the Lehigh River by the Pennsylvania Environmental Council (PEC).

Helping form what environmentalists have labeled the Lehigh River Conservation Corridor, the newly acquired property provides prime upland forest, several miles of waterways, significant wetland acreage and ideal habitat for black bear, bobcat, river otter, coyote, fisher, snowshoe hares and white-tailed deer. It contains several miles of frontage on the Lehigh River, Choke Creek, Trout Creek and Kendall Run. The 40-foot Choke Creek falls is a popular landmark known for its extraordinary beauty. The area will be opened to hunters, hikers and all other state forest recreational enthusiasts.

“Rich in natural resources, this acquisition carries tremendous ‘connectivity’ value by linking more than 70,000 acres of state forest, state game lands and non-profit conservation lands,” Dunn said. “I commend the conservancies, county leaders and others who worked so hard to make this happen.”

Funded by DCNR, Monroe County and local private donors working with The Nature Conservancy, the purchase enhances existing wildlife corridors; extends contiguous oak forests; helps protect Lehigh and Delaware River headwaters; and provides a portal for increased recreational and scenic enjoyment by state forest visitors.

“This property had been slated for development, but many people in the area wanted to see it conserved,” said Todd McNew, Pennsylvania director of The Conservation Fund. “We were able to act quickly, but we couldn’t have done it without the great support from all of our partners. We look forward to this becoming a permanent addition to Lackawanna State Forest for current and future generations to enjoy.”

Wildlands Conservancy’s Chris Kocher was pleased to see the acquisition come together and a key recommendation in the Conservancy’s Lehigh River Watershed Conservation Management Plan implemented.  “The upper Lehigh River Corridor is a conservation priority. This acquisition adds to the historic land protection work of Wildlands Conservancy and our conservation partners and significantly increases the connectivity of protected open space in the upper Lehigh River watershed region and the miles of Lehigh riverfront property protected and opens to the public.”

Bud Cook of The Nature Conservancy provided a glimpse of the importance of this newly protected land through the eyes of wildlife, specifically an otter. The connectivity provided by this acquisition is paramount to sustain wildlife and protect rivers and streams throughout the region. Bud thanked DCNR, Monroe County and Conservancy members and supporters for their commitment to making this key land and water protection project happen.

Monroe County Commissioner Vice-Chairperson Theresa Merli applauded the acquisition and emphasized that conservation of key lands has been a priority for Monroe County residents dating back to the Monroe County 2020 plan and the first open space bond in the County. The success of this program has leveraged significant funds for land and water protection, planning and outdoor recreation.

Nick Lylo, PA DCNR Bureau of Forestry, District Forester, discussed future plans for the tract to improve public access to the Lehigh River as well as the significance of this land in the history of the region.

Though deed transfers and other proceedings have yet to be finalized, organizers planned today’s event to showcase the land and celebrate its acquisition.

Lackawanna State Forest, with acreage now totaling 30,150, along with the neighboring Delaware State Forest and its 84,000 acres, are keystones in the Pocono Forests and Waters Conservation Landscape Initiative (CLI), one of seven major land preservation efforts under way across the state. Regional in scope, CLIs partner local governments, conservancies and residents with the DCNR and other state departments to plan and promote sustainability, conservation, community revitalization and recreational projects.

“A priority of the Pocono Forest and Water Conservation Landscape has been to protect forests, rich habitats and riparian and other natural areas while supporting responsible development in the rapidly growing Northeast. We will all benefit from these new public forestlands. Forests are the best mechanism devised to ensure watershed protection. Communities could spend millions to replace the systems and functions that forests fulfill,” said Ellen Ferretti, of the Pennsylvania Environmental Council and the Pocono Forests and Waters Conservation Landscape Initiative.

For more information on the land acquisition, contact The Conservation Fund’s Ann Barrett at (703) 908-5809.

For information on the Lackawanna State Forest, or any of Pennsylvania’s 20 state forest districts, visit “Find a Forest” on the DCNR website.

 

Photo: Nichols T/Flickr


About The Conservation Fund
At The Conservation Fund, we combine a passion for conservation with an entrepreneurial spirit to protect your favorite places before they become just a memory. A hallmark of our work is our deep, unwavering understanding that for conservation solutions to last, they need to make economic sense. Top-ranked, we have protected more than 7 million acres across America.

Press Release Contacts

Ann Simonelli | The Conservation Fund | 703-908-5809 | asimonelli@conservationfund.org

Terry Brady, DCNR, 717-772-9101


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