BY ROBERT TOMKAVAGE
Countryside Conservancy plans to expand its reach at Lackawanna State Park with a 1-mile single-trail hiking and biking loop.
The trail will be tied into the existing system at the park, Countryside Conservancy Executive Director Bill Kern said.
The conservancy was awarded nearly $167,000 through a grant from the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources’ Community Conservation Partnerships Programs to acquire about 65 acres for passive recreation and connection to other protected lands in North Abington Twp.
Kern is hopeful the land transaction will be completed by summer and that work will begin in fall.
“We keep tabs on most land around the park and this is a property we’ve had our eyes on for all 25 years of our existence,” Kern said.
There are 27 miles of single-track hiking and biking trails as part of the preserves, Kern said.
“It’s part of our endeavors to buffer the state park with protected land and extend the overall trail system,” he said.
Lackawanna State Park Manager Rob Barrese said the park has had excellent collaboration with the conservancy over the years.
“The biggest benefit is that it offers accessibility within the park,” he said. “It lets people go out and experience the whole park, not just one small portion.”
While the conservancy received a matching grant from the state for the project, the nonprofit only had to raise $35,000 because the owners sold the land to the group at a discount, Kern said.
The conservancy, established in 1994, has protected nearly 1,500 acres of land and water in Northeast Pennsylvania.
DCNR’s Bureau of Recreation and Conservation assists local governments, recreation and conservation organizations with funding for projects related to conservation and parks and recreation, including conservation of open space, river conservation and access, and the planning, acquisition and development of public parks.
Barrese feels the partnership between the park and conservancy enhances the overall experience for guests.
“We work to ensure that our trails and their trails flow together seamlessly,” he said. “Visitors don’t know the difference because there is a great level of consistency.”