The Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) serves as the main funding mechanism for the Highlands Conservation Act, allowing for the yearly allocation to protect the Pennsylvania Highlands and the rest of the four-state Highlands region. Congressional authorization for the Land and Water Conservation Fund expires on September 30, 2018, and must be reauthorized in order for funding to continue.
To bring attention to the importance of LWCF to both the PA Highlands and to land conservation nation-wide, local chapters of the Appalachian Mountain Club are planning hikes on LWCF preserved lands leading up to its scheduled expiration date.
Jacobsburg State Park in Nazareth, PA was granted LWCF funds in 1969 and 1977, for acquisition and development of the park. The Jacobsburg National Historic District, which is contained within the park, was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1977. This historic site contains the remains of the Boulton Gun Works, a major source of firearms for the American Revolution operated by the Henry family. The site contains the Pennsylvania Longrifle Museum, as well as the John Joseph Henry House.
On a beautiful Saturday, a wide array of hikers led by the Appalachian Mountain Club Delaware Valley Chapter took to the Henry’s Woods Trail in Jacobsburg State Park. Ranging from newcomers to experienced hikers, participants were given a short presentation about the importance of LWCF and its relationship to Jacobsburg while at the trailhead. Focusing on the ways in which LWCF and Highlands funding have made so many recreational resources available to the public, the aim of the presentation was to educate casual users of the park about the important federal programs that have allowed it to exist.
The Henry’s Woods Trail follows the Bushkill Creek, an important tributary to the Delaware River. The Creek is surrounding by a forested greenway, working to improve water quality and provide habitat for native plants and animals. The preservation of Jacobsburg State Park has allowed for the forest of this watershed to remain intact and continue to filter water that eventually travels through the Pennsylvania Highlands and into the Delaware River.
As its name implies, the Henry’s Woods Trail winds directly to the Jacobsburg National Historic District and the Boulton Historic Site, home of the Henry family. This state park manages to combine widespread recreational options, such as hiking, biking, and horseback riding, with historic significance and environmental services. Because of its high value in these arenas, Jacobsburg State Park is a great example of the benefits that continued LWCF funding can bring.
As the trail plateaus into a field of wildflowers, visitors are reminded of the benefits of having a naturalized area right in their own backyards. Jacobsburg State Park and its accompanying Environmental Education Center connect residents of Nazareth and the broader Lehigh Valley to nature, as well as providing environmental benefits for those downstream such as the PA Highlands.
The Land and Water Conservation Fund has not only allowed Jacobsburg State Park to flourish, but is the only source of federal funding for the Highlands Conservation Act. If LWCF is allowed to expire, the PA Highlands, as well as the nation at large, will be significantly impacted.
Have you visited a LWCF protected land in Pennsylvania? Find a map of projects here, and tag your photos with #SaveLWCF.
To call your Senators and urge them to support reauthorization of LWCF, visit the AMC Conservation Action Center here.
For more information about AMC hikes on LWCF protected lands and throughout the Highlands, visit: activities.outdoors.org
#SaveLWCF is a blog series focused on highlighting conservation spaces protected by the Land and Water Conservation Fund. Visit pahighlands.org to stay updated.