Upper Mt. Bethel Supervisors support land preservation effort

Author: , WFMZ.com Reporter, news@wfmz.com
Published: Oct 08 2012 11:35:55 PM EDT
Kittatinny Ridge
UPPER MT. BETHEL TWP., Pa. -

The Upper Mt. Bethel Township Board of Supervisors is formally supporting an effort by The Nature Conservancy to preserve an additional 70 acres of forested land along the Kittatinny Ridge.

The Supervisors on Monday night approved a motion to support The Nature Conservancy’s grant application to the Northampton County Open Space Program to purchase a conservation easement on 70 acres of forested property along Blue Mountain Drive owned by Anthony and Joan Comunale.

The Supervisors unanimously agreed to send a letter of support to Northampton County. The preservation proposal is also being back by the township’s Open Space Advisory Board.

Ellen Lott, project manager with The Nature Conservancy, said the additional 70 acres would tie into 229 acres already preserved along the Kittattinny Ridge.

Lott said the ridge has both “ecological and social importance to the residents of the area” by providing critical habitat for migratory birds and other wildlife, while offering breath-taking scenic views.

“It’s important to keep the ridge forested for the wildlife and the people because it’s such a visible landmark,” she said.

The 70-acre property, located in close proximity to the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, would be open to the public. The majority of the surrounding preserved property is already open to the public, Lott said.

Lott said an appraisal of the property is pending, although she estimates it will cost between $266,000 to $350,000 to purchase the conservation easement. The Nature Conservancy is seeking a $185,000 grant from the county. Lott said the conservancy will likely seek remaining funding needed to purchase the easement from the township’s dedicated open space preservation fund.

Lott said the other part of the property owned by the Comunales is agricultural. She indicated the owners are considering the possibility of pursuing an agricultural easement to also preserve that part of the property.

Lott noted that the conservancy is in the process of preserving other nearby properties along the ridge.

Lott said Upper Mt. Bethel Township has already partnered with the conservancy on previous preservation projects that abut the 70-acre property now being pursued.

In other business at Monday night’s meeting, Board of Supervisors Chairperson Judith Henckel announced that the township’s recreation board will hold a Halloween party on Sunday, Oct. 28, from 12-2 p.m., at the Mt. Bethel Firehouse on Route 611.

The party will be followed by Trick-or-Treat in the township from 4-6 p.m.