Between Cranberry Creek in Paradise Township and Brodhead Creek in Price Township lie 777 acres of secluded, scenic, nearly pristine woodland. And it's all going to stay that way, thanks to the open space preservation efforts of
both townships, the Pocono Heritage Land Trust and Monroe County. Paradise and Price townships recently closed on buying the former Echo Farm Hunt Club property south of Clarks Road and between both creeks. The property includes about half a mile of frontage along Brodhead Creek and a picturesque horseshoe waterfall.
The $3.3 million purchase, one of the larger acquisitions in the history of the county open space program, was funded by a $1.9 million county grant and a $1.4 million grant from the Community Conservation Partnership program under the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, county planning commission open space coordinator Christine Dettore said.
"This is such an important piece of land," said Paradise Township Supervisor Reda Briglia, who spearheaded the project. "It connects thousands of acres of Delaware State Forest with public land and privately protected land in Price and Paradise, creating an important preserve of permanently protected land."
3,500-plus acres protected
The recent purchase stems from efforts started by the county planning commission in 2008.
"We put together a list of parcels of vacant land which were each more than 50 acres in ," Dettore said. "We contacted the owners of these parcels and made them aware of the open space program to generate interest in applying for open space preservation funding. We put the owners in touch with their respective municipalities or the Pocono Heritage Land Trust, and we granted funding in each case to the land trust or municipality."
As a result, the land trust now protects more than 3,500 acres of land through fee simple acquisition and conservation easements, land trust executive director Dawn Gorham said.
These include the 400-acre Kurmes Preserve in Paradise Township and 417-acre Jonas Mountain Preserve in Polk Township.
"This past year, we acquired the 63-acre Yankee Run Preserve in Mount Pocono and a 200-acre conservation easement on the Rogowicz property in Stroud and Price townships," Gorham said.
More to be done
The former Echo Farm Hunt Club property, which Briglia said likely will be renamed, now joins the list of open space preservation purchases in Monroe County.
Though the neighboring townships bought the property, the land trust "helped negotiate the deal and obtain" the money for the purchase, land trust President Tom Morganthau said.
Gorham said this particular purchase took a number of years to complete because of the property's and cost.
"It also involves more than one municipality, which adds an extra layer of both complexity and support to the project," she said.
Dettore said the county is working on allocating remaining open space funding toward future land purchases and has agreements with several municipalities. One such agreement is with Jackson Township for a property off Neola Road, adjacent to state game lands.
"When these land acquisitions take place, we want to make sure everyone's needs are met and that the acquisitions make sense," Dettore said.
Noting that funding at the county level is almost exhausted, Gorham said it's vital that the county open space program continue the important work of preserving land, water and heritage for future generations.
"Without another county open space bond, it will become much more difficult to protect the county's streams, forests and farm land," she said. "Funding at the state level also has been much reduced as of late."
See pictures of Echo Farm under Photo Tab