Thursday, March 29, 2018

500 acres purchased to protect Lehigh River’s headwaters

A portion of the 500 acres containing headwaters of the Lehigh River acquired by the Wildlands Conservancy.
Frank Kummer reports for

You might know the Lehigh River as the whitewater that rushes through picturesque Lehigh Gorge State Park in Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountains. But the gushing river actually starts as a series of tiny, pristine streams in what’s known as headwaters.

The Wildlands Conservancy just bought 500 acres of land containing headwaters to help protect the river’s source.

“This is a really important headwaters piece to protect the quality and quantity of clean water in the Lehigh,” said Dawn Gorham, director of land preservation at the Emmaus-based conservancy.  “It’s kind of a mix of protected lands and big development nearby.”

Gorham referred to the parcel, known as the Klondike Property, as “critical” and said it was immediately turned over to the Pennsylvania Game Commission.  It is the highest rated property for preservation in the Upper Lehigh River.

Gorham said the $2.5 million purchase from private land owners, Tighe and Neil Scott, took about four years to complete. It was funded with help from the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, the state Game Commission, the Palmerton Natural Resource Trustee Council, the Open Space Institute and the William Penn Foundation. Other groups also donated.

The state will use the land to expand Game Lands 312, roughly 3,962 acres that sprawl across Lackawanna, Monroe and Wayne counties. The terrain contains other headwaters of the Lehigh River and is noted for its wildlife including deer, turkey, grouse and waterfowl. Game Lands 312 will now total nearly 4,500 acres. The game lands are also adjacent to the Pinchot State Forest.

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