On Saturday, the Pennsylvania Land Trust Association (PALTA) honored Stroud Township with the 2019 Government Conservation Leadership Award. Representatives from the township received the award at the annual Pennsylvania Land Conservation Conference, held this year at Skytop Lodge.

Many Pennsylvania municipalities are blessed with significant land and water resources. But Stroud Township, located in the heart of the Poconos in Monroe County, stands out as a leader in protecting open space for recreation, wildlife, and water quality in the face of population growth and increasing development pressure.

In 1998, township supervisors led the Monroe County Citizens for Open Space campaign, successfully authorizing $25 million for conservation. Then, in 2001, township voters approved a referendum to create an open space conservation program funded by a .25% earned income tax. The first program of its kind in northeastern Pennsylvania, it has generated more than $8 million for conservation, permanently protecting over 1,200 acres in the township. Nearly 800 of those acres are open to the public for hiking, fishing, bird watching, and other activities.

The township also protects its natural resources through smart zoning and planning. Its zoning ordinance includes provisions to safeguard wetlands, steep slopes, streams, and the section of the Appalachian Trail that passes through the township. The township has adopted a comprehensive plan to ensure that future growth does not come at the expense of open space or clean water.

Stroud Township demonstrates its conservation leadership by forming strong, productive partnerships with key stakeholders. For example, the township teamed up with neighboring Stroudsburg and East Stroudsburg to create the Stroud Region Parks and Recreation Commission. It also partnered with a local farmer to establish a community-supported agriculture program on township-owned open space, and worked with Pocono Heritage Land Trust and the Brodhead Watershed Association to develop the Brodhead Creek Heritage Center, a place for environmental education and community gatherings.

The township is currently working to acquire land along three major stream corridors to protect water quality and link up its streamside trail system.

“We are pleased to honor such a strong conservation leader,” said Andy Loza, executive director of PALTA. “On behalf of the Pennsylvania Land Trust Association’s 75 member organizations and their 120,000 supporters, I thank the Stroud Township officials and volunteers for their outstanding efforts to protect, restore, and preserve open space.”