HAWLEY – The Delaware Highlands Conservancy has announced that the federal Forest Legacy Program has allocated funding for the purposes of protecting private forestlands. Nearly $3 million will be directed to “The Northeast Connection” for the permanent protection of thousands of contiguous, un-fragmented acres of forests, lakes, and wetlands along the Little Bushkill Creek in Pike County.

Bud Cook, Northeast PA Program Director for The Nature Conservancy stated, “This tract was highlighted for its importance in a statewide forest assessment conducted by The Nature Conservancy and Western Pennsylvania Conservancy. The Nature Conservancy is committed to the goal of providing intact forestlands for wildlife habitat, and the Northeast Connection will ensure these healthy forestlands remain, now and in the future.”

Over 2,000 acres will be protected.

Peter Reinhart of Mink Pond Club stated, “This is a win-win opportunity for private landowners wanting to preserve their pristine forests for future generations and for organizations like Delaware Highlands Conservancy who partner with private landowners to conserve and protect a valuable resource.”

Pat Calpin stated, “Lehman Lake has been working with Delaware Highlands Conservancy for more than a decade to achieve our goal of continuing to be virtuous stewards of our forest and valuable and diverse natural resources, to benefit current and future generations. Attaining the easement will greatly enhance our potential for sustaining our property and accomplishing our goal. The project funding will also assist to offset the costs of maintaining our infrastructure, especially required upgrades to the Lehman Lake dam.”

According to Charles Mosser, “The members of Maskenozha Rod and Gun Club are excited and very thankful for this opportunity to help preserve the Pocono Mountain wild lands for the future generations of outdoor enthusiasts. It has been a ten-year journey to this point but it will all be worthwhile when we achieve our goal.”

The Conservancy thanks everyone who worked diligently in this competitive environment to capitalize on this exciting opportunity, including Congressmen Tom Marino, Charles Dent, Matt Cartwright, Mike Fitzpatrick, Chris Gibson, and Patrick Meehan, the PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, The Nature Conservancy – Pennsylvania, and many other national and regional conservation organizations.

“We commend the collaborative spirit that prevailed and the many partners who worked so hard in protecting these private forestlands,” said DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn. “Forest Legacy proponents identify urbanization and woodland fragmentation as the major danger to the future of forests in the less developed areas of our state. Here, continuity will be achieved and sound management techniques will be encouraged.”

The Conservancy has protected more than 14,000 acres to date, through conservation easements with landowners. This includes about 9,500 acres in both Pike and Wayne counties combined, with 23 easements in Pike and 30 easements in Wayne, and 4,500 acres in New York (Sullivan and Delaware).

The Delaware Highlands Conservancy works in partnership with landowners and communities to protect the lands and waters, eagles and eagle habitat, sustainable local economies, and quality of life in the Upper Delaware River region.

Landowners in the Delaware River watershed may be eligible for funding to assist with the costs of protecting their properties or implementing a forest management plan; contact the Conservancy to learn more at 570-226-3164 or 845-583-1010.

For more information on the Conservancy and how it connects people to the lands where they live, work, and play, visit www.DelawareHighlands.org.