Bear Creek Victor Motts

Open Space Institute Support Secures Additional State Game Lands for Drinking Water Protection

BEARHILL TOWNSHIP, Penn. (July 18, 2023)—The Open Space Institute (OSI) and The Nature Conservancy (TNC) today announced the protection of land in northeastern Pennsylvania’s Luzerne County. Conservation of the property will create additional local public access to nature while helping protect drinking water quality within the upper Lehigh River, and in turn the Delaware River.

The newly protected property, spanning 240 acres, will be transferred to the Pennsylvania Game Commission as an addition to State Game Land 91, increasing its size to almost 1,475 acres. The protected land, which is almost 100 percent forested, will also help safeguard the water quality of a tributary of Bear Creek, home to reproducing trout.

The conservation of more than 95 acres of the property was supported by OSI’s Delaware River Watershed Protection Fund (DRWPF), which seeks to protect water quality in the Delaware River Basin. The DRWPF is made possible with funding from the William Penn Foundation’s Delaware River Watershed Initiative.

“When kept intact, forests are one of the most effective methods of protecting drinking water resources for the 15 million residents within the Delaware River Watershed,” said Bill Rawlyk, OSI’s Mid-Atlantic Field Coordinator. “We applaud The Nature Conservancy for their dogged efforts to see this land secured for clean drinking water and public use and enjoyment forever.”

Launched in 2014, the DRWPF has protected more than 21,000 acres of forested land that filters water into the Delaware River Watershed, a source of drinking water for approximately 15 million people — including residents of northeastern Pennsylvania as well as Trenton, Philadelphia, Wilmington, and New York City.

In addition to OSI’s Fund, funding for the project came from the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, the Bureau of Conservation and Recreation, and the Pennsylvania Game Commission.

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