Bushkill Township has provided leadership in advancing the conservation of natural resources through the development of the Open Space Program, which aims to preserve and protect natural spaces within Bushkill Township. Since its inception in 2007, the Open Space Program has allowed Bushkill Township to own approximately 850 acres and protect approximately 600 acres through conservation easements, protecting vital and scenic natural resources. Bushkill Township has also prioritized the conservation of properties that are connected to greenways within Northampton County, thereby furthering Northampton County’s Livable Landscapes’ goal to conserve, restore, and enhance greenway networks, and protecting sites that can be forever enjoyed by the public through outdoor recreation.
While many organizations only purchase conservation easements, Bushkill Township provides an innovative strategy for acquiring land. Working directly with landowners, the township purchases properties using Fee Simple Purchases, before selling the property back to the public with a conservation easement. Not only does this allow land to be conserved, but it also allows enough land to be set aside for buyers to purchase.
Through participation in community events and outreach efforts, Bushkill Township has led by example, giving presentations to the public on the importance of the Open Space Program and its value to the preservation of the township’s natural resources. There are many Pennsylvania municipalities working hard to conserve the vital and scenic natural resources within their municipalities, but Bushkill Township stands out as a leader who has made significant strides in land conservation and preservation.
The Land Conservation Government Leadership Award recognizes counties and municipalities for their commitment to conservation. Since it was established in 2007, counties and municipalities of various sizes have been honored for taking the initiative to conserve open space and farmland, safeguard water quality, create parks and green spaces, implement sustainable land-use policies, and more. Each year, WeConservePA solicits nominations for the award and a committee determines the winner. The award is presented in conjunction with the annual WeConservePA Conference.