BEAR CREEK TWP. — A chunk of mountain known to just about anybody who drives through the Wyoming Valley has been set aside for conservation into perpetuity.
“When you’re driving on the Cross-Valley (Expressway) and you look up at the windmills, you know all that property below the windmills is protected,” said Paul Lumia, executive director of the Trucksville-based North Branch Land Trust.
North Branch, assisted by Media, Pa., group Natural Lands Trust, secured $850,000 in grant money from the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources to buy the 385 acres on Bald Mountain, Bear Creek Township. The family of Kingston attorney Mark Mack sold the land to North Branch at about half its assessed value, Lumia said.
At a quiet Friday gathering of conservation-minded officials, Lumia identified on a map the tracts of land conserved through North Branch or other agencies. He pointed out the Bald Mountain plot as another piece of the effort to create a preservation corridor roughly 20 miles long atop Penobscot Mountain from Mocanaqua to just north of Crystal Lake in Bear Creek Township.
It was the fastest acquisition North Branch has had using DCNR funds, said Rylan Coker, North Branch’s land protection and stewardship coordinator.
DCNR grants typically take about three years to process. Having gotten ahead of the game, North Branch anticipated what the state agency would ask for in the application and gave it everything at once, Coker said. From start to finish, the process took about a year and a half.
Lumia said the speed is a byproduct of practice.
“The more we do it, the the faster we can get it done, because we know what DCNR wants,” Lumia said.
Preserving this tract of land is a landmark because the borders surround two watersheds that drain rain water indirectly to the Susquehanna and Delaware rivers, project proponents said. This new preservation will help keep rivers cleaner, which is critical for the city of Philadelphia where the Delaware river is a source of drinking water, Lumia said.
At the Bald Mountain Road entrance, Joe Vinton, a preservation manager for Natural Lands Trust, said they have public-use plan in the works, but for right now, access via unkempt logging trails remains precarious.