Yes!!!! I do a lot of hunting in this area, often very, very close to the boundries! Can't wait for fall hunting season to get here!
Deal allows public to use Bear Creek Township tract
State Conservation Department to pay Synod $1.4 million for easement to keep 1,880 acres from being developed.
By Andrew M. Seder [email protected]
Times Leader Staff Writer
BEAR CREEK TWP. – An agreement between religious and conservation groups will result in 1,880 acres of private forested land remaining undeveloped. It will also make the land accessible by the public.
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Times Leader Photo StoreThe state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources has agreed to pay the Southeastern Pennsylvania Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America $1.4 million for an easement that guarantees the tract will remain undisturbed.
“The Bear Creek Camp is a welcome addition to our existing network of large, forested public land tracts in this region,” DCNR’s acting Secretary John Quigley said.
Rick Koval, land protection specialist for the North Branch Land Trust, a Shavertown conservation organization that facilitated the agreement, said the public will be able to hike, cross-country ski, bird watch, jog and enjoy the property.
“These opportunities complement and add to those already available in the region on State Game Lands 91 and the connecting Lackawanna State Forest,” Quigley said. The Bear Creek Camp property contains the headwaters for Little Bear Creek and Bear Creek, tributaries of the Lehigh River.
The property’s developmental land value was estimated at about $2.8 million. Koval said offers were made to the Synod in the past, and he respects the group’s decision to forego the higher financial offers in exchange for protecting pristine land from development.
“This was a highly developable property,” Koval said. He said getting the easement agreement signed has been in the works for about nine years.
The Rev. Bob Stover, executive director of the camp, said he’s glad the process is over and said he believes what was done was right for the land and the region.
“We certainly could have made more by holding out and selling to the highest bidder,” Stover, of Mountain Top, said. “It is beautiful land. It would be ashamed to see it developed.”
He said with the easement in place, neither the synod nor any future owner of the land would “be tempted by that prospect.” The easement allows for the land to be sold, but never developed.
“Northeastern Pennsylvania is under intense pressure from development, including many lands that had previously been hunting clubs, camps and water company lands,” Koval said “Connecting trails, greenways and large tracts of public lands is becoming increasingly more important. That’s why we are so pleased to be able to protect the Bear Creek Camp to keep it accessible to the public and as part of a large block of open space.”
The camp will still run annually. Part of the agreement with DCNR allows the camp to exclude visitors for up to 80 days a year, mostly during the camping months. But the rest of the year, as long as visitors receive permission from the camp, they will have access.
The camp, owned by the 500 member churches of the synod, purchased the property in 1974.