MEDIA, Pa. (April 19, 2023) – The Open Space Institute (OSI) and its partners today announced the successful protection of nearly 375 acres in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania. Conservation of the land, led by Natural Lands land trust, secures important forests for carbon storage, expands a celebrated nature preserve, and closes the last gap in an expansive regional conservation corridor.
Once threatened with residential development containing as many as 150 houses, the land’s lush forests are now permanently protected for wildlife including songbirds such as Ruffed Grouse, Golden-winged Warbler, and Wood Thrush. With this addition of the newly protected property, Bear Creek Preserve now spans more than 3,900 acres — all of which are open to visitors free of charge.
Conservation of the property was funded in part through OSI’s Appalachian Landscapes Protection Fund. The Fund supports land protection along the Appalachian Mountain range, an area that is home to the world’s largest broadleaf forest, stores most of the nation’s forest carbon, and provides essential refuge for plants and animals at risk of habitat loss from climate change. The project marks OSI’s second grant in support of the Bear Creek Preserve.
“The Open Space Institute is proud to support this important project through our Appalachian Landscapes Protection Fund, as part of our ongoing efforts to protect the fragile forests of Pennsylvania in the face of a changing climate,” said Bill Rawlyk, OSI’s Mid-Atlantic Field Coordinator.
Acquisition of the property closes the last gap in a conservation corridor of protected lands including state parks, forests, and game lands spanning more than 150,000 acres.
The project will expand Natural Lands’ efforts to study and improve the forest at Bear Creek Preserve to provide better foraging, mating, and nesting habitat for birds whose populations are in decline due to habitat loss. The land also contains two tributaries designated as “High Quality-Cold Water Fisheries” by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, which flow to Bear Creek and eventually to the Delaware River.
OSI’s Appalachian Landscapes Protection Fund is capitalized by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, the Richard King Mellon Foundation, and numerous family foundations.