Lehigh Valley

Northampton County Council backs conservation, geotourism projects

Action to preserve and support open space, geotourism and land preservation dominated Northampton County Council’s agenda Thursday night.

Council unanimously approved an $88,000 grant request to help the Nature Conservancy purchase 27 acres of woodlands on Blue Mountain Drive near Lake Minsi in Upper Mount Bethel Township. The conservancy has been interested in the area for some time because the forested wetlands and marshes there support rare species of plants and animals.

The purchase of the property from Henry Ribitzki and Henry A. Ribitzki will also be supported by a $92,000 grant from the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and an allocation of about $3,700 from Upper Mount Bethel Township.

The grant is part of the county’s “Livable Landscapes” program, a strategic plan released last year that outlines how the county will conserve and promote open space, parks and farmland over the next 25 years. About $300,000 is budgeted for this year.

As part of the program, council also unanimously approved a $5,000 grant supporting the development and marketing of the nine-county Scenic Wild Delaware River region in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York. The corridor extends from Hancock, N.Y., downstream to Easton and Phillipsburg, N.J.

Council also awarded a $5,000 grant to support the development of the Sept. 11 National Memorial Trail, a 1,300-mile trail that would overlay existing trails in the county.

Planned in honor of the communities in which the victims of the Sept. 11, 2001 attack and their families lived and worked, the multi-use trail would start at the Pentagon in Arlington, Va., extend to Shanksville, Somerset County, then across to New York City and back down to the Pentagon.

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