BY ROBERT TOMKAVAGE
The Countryside Conservancy plans to build a new trail next to Lackawanna State Park in the coming months.
Bill Kern, executive director of the conservancy, said work on the approximately 1½-mile hiking and biking loop, which will connect with the state park system, should begin later this spring and is expected to be completed by the fall.
“It was a prime property to be protected and to enhance the footprint of the state park,” 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 65 acres for passive recreation and connection to other protected lands in North Abington Twp.
Kern said the nonprofit organization also received a cash match of $37,000 from the Scranton family’s Willary Foundation.
“It was huge because I was looking at having to put together possibly three or four different funding sources and they came up big for us,” he said.
In addition, the Rowlands family sold the property to the conservancy as a bargain by taking $130,000 off the total cost of $325,000 .
The Rowlands family issued a statement regarding the sale of the property at a discounted price.
“Our family’s history is strongly connected to this beautiful land,” they said in the statement. “Almost a hundred years ago, William and Marion Rowlands came here and carved out a life running a dairy farm and raising their large family. We are pleased to pay tribute to their memory and to see ‘The Rowlands Preserve’ forever protected from any type of development while seeing it shared with others who can appreciate its beauty as we always have.”
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.
The conservancy, established in 1994, has protected nearly 1,500 acres of land and water in Northeast Pennsylvania.
Kern thinks users will enjoy the majestic views from the new section of trail.
“I believe it will be the highest point in the whole park system,” he said. “There is a field on top, so there will be a really beautiful view of the surrounding hillsides.”
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