North Branch Land Trust is the recipient of a Luzerne County American Rescue Plan Act grant for their protection of more than 200 acres of buffer forests surrounding the Huntsville Reservoir.
Luzerne County has granted more than $55 million to 113 area entities including North Branch Land Trust (NBLT), a Northeastern Pennsylvania non-profit committed to land conservation. NBLT will be using these funds to assist in the conservation of the riparian forest surrounding the Huntsville Reservoir owned by Pennsylvania American Water.
Executive Director Ellen Ferretti states: “This may not be the first time you are hearing about this project. The approximately 220 acres of conifer forest and wetland on the northern half of the Huntsville Reservoir had been recognized as a unique opportunity for community and conservation benefits in our backyard. In September 2022, the Community Conservation Partnership Program, under the administration of the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Bureau of Recreation and Conservation, awarded NBLT a grant covering a portion of the project costs. The American Rescue Plan Act not only provides important financial support necessary for the completion of this project, but it also demonstrates the value placed on the conservation of our natural resources here in Luzerne County.”
North Branch Land Trust is excited to work with Pennsylvania American Water to conserve the buffer lands around the Huntsville Reservoir while providing long-desired public. In accordance with NBLT’s Mission, this project will maintain the natural beauty of the area with limited improvements to include simple trails and access. Future public access will be available in an area suited for walking and hiking.
“Pennsylvania American Water is committed to being a steward of our environment and protecting our watersheds,” said Justin Ladner, president of Pennsylvania American Water. “Preserving this land through our partnership with North Branch Land Trust helps ensure the continued provision of safe, clean drinking water while providing the community with access to the surrounding riparian forest.”
The Huntsville Reservoir also offers opportunities for conservation around the Reservoir and beyond. This project area will help to connect existing conserved lands in the region, amplifying the positive impact of preserved natural habitats and nature-based recreation. Conserving buffer lands around our drinking water reservoirs not only greatly enhances the quality of this fresh water but also reduces risks of soil erosion, runoff pollution, and regional flooding.
This project was financed in part by American Rescue Plan Act Funds and a grant from the Community Conservation Partnership Program, under the administration of the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Bureau of Recreation and Conservation. North Branch Land Trust expressed their “gratitude to the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Pennsylvania American Water, and the members of the community who have guided and supported this project and who support their conservation mission for the benefit of their community and the natural resources we dearly value.”