More than 400 acres of forestland along Interstate 81 in Scranton, Pennsylvania have been added to the Pinchot State Forest, forever protecting some of the last remaining high-quality wildlife habitat in the area while opening new public access for the city’s residents and visitors.
The Conservation Fund and the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Bureau of Forestry (DCNR) announced the 436-acre expansion of Pinchot State Forest following final transfer of the land to DCNR. The land is now open to the public for non-motorized recreational activities such as hiking, bird watching and picnicking. Additionally, conserving this large swath of forest will ensure protection of drinking water sources as well as reducing the amount run-off and flooding caused by major storms.
Beyond increasing public access opportunities for Scranton residents and visitors, the Pinchot State Forest expansion safeguards the picturesque sight-seeing experience for passengers of the Electric City Trolley Line. Over a mile of the historic trolley line runs through the 436 acres.
“DCNR is extremely happy to connect Scranton with Pinchot State Forest and we look forward to seeing the incredible impact this addition will have in growing outdoor recreation in the region,” DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn said. “We are grateful to The Conservation Fund for its ongoing partnership to ensure preservation of natural spaces in the Commonwealth.”
“Outdoor recreation is a key component of quality of life in Scranton, and the City can’t do it all alone,” said Mayor Paige G. Cognetti. “This is an exciting development, and we appreciate The Conservation Fund and DCNR recognizing the opportunity here. The addition of the Laurel Line Forest to Pinchot State Forest will expand recreational options on East Mountain.”
The Conservation Fund purchased the 436 acres in December 2021 from local businessman and community developer Anthony J. Rinaldi, who passed away earlier this year and leaves behind a legacy of revitalization and conservation in the city of Scranton. That purchase, which included support from energy infrastructure company Williams, afforded DCNR the time it needed to coordinate financing for this expansion of Pinchot State Forest. But for the Fund’s assistance in this transaction, the owner’s interest in selling the property for conservation and public benefit and funding from Williams, the forest could have been permanently lost to development.
“It’s worth noting that this expansion of Pinchot State Forest offers close-to-home recreation opportunities within the city of Scranton,” said Kyle Shenk, the Fund’s Northeast Regional Director. “With this expansion, we’re working together to provide outdoor recreation opportunities within walking distance for many residents. That’s a big win.”
Moreover, the expansion provides habitats for various wildlife — including several species of songbirds and butterflies along with larger mammals such as white-tailed deer and foxes — that have been displaced by rapid development along the Interstate 81 corridor. Permanent protection of the 436 acres ensures the natural scenic and historic landscape of this area will remain intact for future generations to enjoy.
Funding was provided by Williams, DCNR Bureau of Recreation and Conservation, and DCNR Bureau of Forestry.
The Conservation Fund, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to creating land and water protection strategies that balance environmental stewardship with economic vitality, facilitated the purchase of the property and is working collectively with Williams along with private and public partners to achieve solutions with the highest conservation value in the Scranton area.
“Our neighbors and employees will benefit from the preservation of this scenic wildlife habitat and new recreation area,” said Mike Atchie, director of community and project outreach for Williams. “Supporting our communities as good environmental stewards is core to our values. We are looking forward to the opening of this expansion to the Pinchot State Forest.”
About The Conservation Fund
The Conservation Fund protects the land that sustains us all. We are in the business of conservation, creating innovative solutions that drive nature-based action in all 50 states for climate protection, vibrant communities and sustainable economies. We apply effective strategies, efficient financing approaches, and enduring government, community and private partnerships to protect millions of acres of America’s natural land, cultural sites, recreation areas and working forests and farms. To learn more, visit www.conservationfund.org.
About the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources
DCNR manages 124 state parks, 2.2 million acres of state forest land, and works with local governments and municipalities to provide grants, planning, and other resources to communities across Pennsylvania. Visit DCNR’s website for more information about the agency and check out DCNR’s Calendar of Events for events on public lands.
This post adapted from a release by The Conservation Fund.