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Land acquisition adds to Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area
DCNR, along with many additional partners, has assisted with a significant purchase of land that will soon result in the expansion of the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area.

The acquisition of the property effectively ends long-standing plans for its development into a major complex of townhouses and residences, and will now provide the time needed to transfer it to the National Park Service.

“Protecting land is not only about an interest in conservation, but the beauty and outdoor recreation that it provides also is in our self-interest. It makes our citizens healthier and attracts the residents and visitors who support our communities economically,” DCNR Acting Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn said. “DCNR is proud to make an investment in this important addition to our national public lands.”

DCNR provided a $2 million grant through its Community Conservation Partnerships Program to assist with the acquisition.

Once added to the National Recreation Area, the 550-acre property in Shawnee, Pennsylvania, will provide both area residents and visitors to the Delaware Water Gap with new opportunities to hike, bike, hunt and experience the beauty of the Delaware River. The acquisition will also contribute to the protection of water quality in the Delaware River, the source of drinking water for more than 15 million people.

The purchase was vital to protecting scenic views from the Appalachian National Scenic Trail and unique habitat, which is home for several rare species. Furthermore, protection of the parcel, identified as a highly climate-resilient landscape, will create a haven for wildlife as the climate changes.

The purchase, which includes steep slopes above the Delaware River culminating at a 1,120-foot point known as Mosiers Knob—and visible from the Appalachian Trail—was led by The Trust for Public Land. The Conservation Fund provided assistance in a variety of ways, including helping to secure funding to support the $4,330,000 purchase price. Additionally, the William Penn Foundation and the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation are supporting the acquisition through grants administered by the Open Space Institute.

“This project is an iconic example of how local, state, federal, commercial, and non-profit agencies, organizations and land trusts can effectively collaborate and leverage funding to protect resources and enhance public enjoyment for future generations,” said Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area Superintendent John J. Donahue. “Local residents first identified the outstanding value of these lands and motivated the developer, the township, the county, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and the United States to take action to preserve them. The NPS is looking forward to becoming the caretakers of this unique parcel once the transfer is complete and is especially grateful to the grantors who helped make this possible and to TPL who saw this through to the end,” he added.

The land was previously owned by Shawnee Development Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Wyndham Worldwide, and was slated for a development that would have included more than 200 buildings along with roads and other infrastructure. Working with Wyndham Worldwide, The Trust for Public Land has now purchased and transferred the land to The Conservation Fund, which will care for it until the National Park Service is able to take permanent ownership. Once the property is donated to the National Park Service it will be added to the nearly 70,000-acre National Recreation Area and managed for the public’s use and enjoyment.

For more information about DCNR grants, go here.

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April 22, 2015

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