Permanent preservation plans are in place for 458 acres of vulnerable open space in Montgomery County.
The Girl Scouts of Eastern Pennsylvania and the non-profit Natural Lands conservation group recently announced an agreement on Camp Laughing Waters.
The camp, which the Girl Scouts have run since the 1950s, is part of the Swamp Creek Conservation Landscape – a more than 9,300-acre area of Montgomery County. But Natural Lands noted the camp wasn’t considered protected land.
“The property’s permanent preservation has been a priority for decades,” said Kate Raman, conservation project manager with Natural Lands. “We are beyond thrilled to be able to celebrate this conservation success. It’s a win for future generations of Girl Scouts, for wildlife, and for everyone living in this region who will continue to benefit from the fresh air, clean water, climate mitigation, and other ecological services this land provides.”
It’s’ the latest partnership with private land owners in the Delaware Valley for Natural Lands. The Delaware County-based organization has conservation easements covering more than 26,000 acres. Those agreements include annual monitoring and maintaining good relations with hundreds of landowners.
They also include taxpayer funding. The Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR), Montgomery County, New Hanover Township, and Upper Frederick Township all provided what was called “substantial support” for Natural Lands.
DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn called the permanent preservation plans “tremendous news” for the region. She’s especially happy that there will be “expanded public access” to trails within the Swamp Creek Conservation Landscape.
Camp Laughing Waters will remain a Girl Scouts camp. Girl Scouts of Eastern Pennsylvania CEO Kim E. Fraites-Dow said the deal makes a lot of sense because the land deserved protection. “Camp activities are dependent on the continued existence of open space…” she said. “This will benefit not just the Girl Scouts but also the flora and fauna that call these lands home, the public who will enjoy the recreational trails, and residents downstream whose property and water supplies will be permanently protected. We are teaching our Girl Scouts by example the importance of protecting land for future generations.”
Montgomery County politicians praised the deal.
“This is great news for advancing and preserving our open space, which will create more opportunities for folks to connect with nature on walking trails or for educational lessons for kids on plants and wildlife,” said state Rep. Donna Scheuren (R-Gilbertsville). “This is also an economic win, as open space attracts tourists and outdoor enthusiasts, helps to generate revenue for local businesses and communities, and delivers higher property values for homes near parks and green spaces as well.”
“New Hanover Township is proud to be a partner in the permanent preservation of 458 acres, ensuring that this vast expanse of land remains protected for future generations,” said Jamie Gwynn, New Hanover Township manager. “The acquisition of the easement not only reflects the Board of Supervisors’ dedication to environmental stewardship but also highlights its unwavering commitment to safeguarding natural resources and fostering sustainable development.”
The Virginia Cretella Mars Foundation and the Redekop Family Foundation at Everence also contribute funds to Natural Lands.