Situated in the rapidly growing Wilkes-Barre/Scranton metropolitan area, the Lackawanna Highlands could have easily been developed, but with the help of The Conservation Fund, this stretch of high-quality forest has a different fate.


With the help of the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR), the Pennsylvania Game Commission, the Richard King Mellon Foundation and our own Working Forest Fund, we purchased nearly 11,000 acres of forestland within Lackawanna, Luzerne and Wayne Counties in 2014 from Theta Land Corporation. Adjacent to thousands of acres of already protected land, this new acreage protects critical land within the Chesapeake Bay watershed and gives native wildlife — like deer, turkey and bear — more room to roam. We then transferred more than 8,000 acres of this land to the DCNR, as an addition to Lackawanna State Forest, increasing its size by more than 30 percent. The Game Commission plans to purchase the remaining acreage for state game lands.

Considered the centerpiece of the Lackawanna Highlands project, this purchase completes a 10-year, multi-phase effort that results in a total of 27,000 new acres of state forests, state game lands and county parks. This sizeable recreational resource at city residents’ back doors provides new opportunities for camping, hiking, birdwatching, fishing, hunting and more.


Millions of acres of forests across the country are at risk. And while that could spell disaster, it also creates an unprecedented opportunity for landscape-level conservation that we may never have again. The Conservation Fund understands the challenges of a changing forestry industry and finds innovative ways to keep this incredible natural resource working for the benefit of wildlife and people, now and in the future.