Published Dec 27, 2013
Hawk Mountain Sanctuary in Kempton, PA, drew closer to its goal of protecting 85-acres of contiguous land, thanks to a $100,000 grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development.
Hawk Mountain will use the grant money to purchase a 25.3-acre forested slope that buffers Hawk Mountain and the Appalachian Trail in Berks County.
They will use the remaining portion to protect, through conservation easement, a 60-acre riparian parcel beneath the North Lookout at Hawk Mountain in Schuylkill County.
Hawk Mountain President Jerry Regan says both pieces rank as the highest priority for protection in virtually every local, regional and state planning document.
The parcel also ranks high for protection because of its species diversity and sensitive habitat, and to protect and promote outdoor recreation here, such as paddling, wildlife watching, hiking and biking.
The 25-acre parcel on the Berks County approach will buffer Hawk Mountain lands and the National Scenic Appalachian Trail, which pass just to the east of the Sanctuary's boundary.
The grant will cover less than a fourth of the purchase, but will be matched with privately raised funds and additional grants. One funder, the Norcross Wildlife Foundation, has provided a $230,000 no-interest loan to ensure the Sanctuary can complete the project while fundraising continues.
"Protecting land may be expensive, but it has long-lasting benefits for everyone," says Regan. "We appreciate the strong support of our township, county and state leaders who supported this grant," he adds.
Land in the vicinity of Hawk Mountain is particularly difficult to protect for one reason: location, location, location. "Properties in the shadow of Hawk Mountain rarely come on the market, and when they do, they sell fast and for top dollar," Regan explains. "They enjoy close vicinity to I-78 and Route 61, but also the pristine views and high wildlife diversity found here."
The 60-acre riverside parcel is located in one of the fastest-developing areas in Schuylkill County and includes a home in West Brunswick Township.
Regan says that Hawk Mountain intends only to buy the development rights which will preserve the land and lower the overall price of the property. "We're very interested now in matching a conservation-minded buyer with the owner, which will close the deal."
A conservation buyer, he explains, is interested in parcels for their scenic value and diversity, and who prefers a home that is on protected land. "There are many people this would appeal to and we hope they call us."
The project is shovel-ready and the individual, private landowners have been working cooperatively with Hawk Mountain and already signed the necessary agreements.
"It's difficult to find an opportunity where a landowner is willing to work with us so when you do have that chance, it is our mission to protect the land and make it happen. In this case, we have two properties, one on each side of the Mountain, and with two landowners willing to work -- it's nothing short of a miracle."
Hawk Mountain Sanctuary was founded by New York conservation activist Rosalie Edge in 1934. It was incorporated in 1938 as a nonprofit organization.
Tags: Appalachian Trail, Hiking, and News
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