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January 27, 2016

Community Conservation Partnership Program Grants Awarded

Conservation Organization

Two conservation projects have received Community Conservation Partnership Program grants through the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

“These state grant dollars will support worthy local initiatives that will enhance our region’s recreational offerings for families and individuals,” state Sen. John Yudichak said in a Tuesday press release.

The North Branch Land Trust gets $480,000 to expand the D&L Trail by 2.2 miles, from Laurel Run Road in Laurel Run Township to the Seven Tubs Nature Area in Plains Township.

Media-based Natural Lands Trust Inc. will receive $221,000 to acquire 161 acres along White Haven Road in Bear Creek Township for the creation of open space and recreational opportunities. The acquisition will expand the 3,400-acre Bear Creek Preserve.

North Branch Land Trust Executive Director Paul Lumia said the 165-mile D&L trail, part of the Natural Heritage Corridor, runs from Bristol, outside Philadelphia, through New Hope, Easton, Bethlehem, Jim Thorpe, White Haven and Mountain Top, then to Laurel Run. The trail is 85 percent complete, and the goal is to get it to Wilkes-Barre, he said.

The grant money will be used to run the trail from the Oliver Mills section of Laurel Run and around the Seven Tubs Nature Area.

“Building this section of trail will be nice, because it will give people who are visiting the Tubs a chance to go on the trail and see what it’s about,” Lumia said.

Work will include a trail head and 0.3-mile connector trail, Americans with Disabilities Act access and landscaping. Trails have to be ADA-compliant and built to state standards, Lumia explained.

“There’s a lot of detail that goes into them, even for 2.2 miles,” he said.

There are two more sections of the D&L Trail to go, which Lumia said the North Branch Land Trust is looking to complete within the next couple of years. Then people will be able to hike or bike all the way from Wilkes-Barre to Bristol.

“It’s going to be a great asset for the community,” he said.