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OSI Grants Help 1,000-Acre Former Girl Scouts Lands Become Part of Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area

MEDIA, PA (April 25, 2018)—Thanks to grants from the Open Space Institute’s (OSI) Resilient Landscapes Initiative and its Delaware River Watershed Protection Fund, a critical connecting property, once owned by a Girl Scout Camp, is now a part of the National Park Service’s Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area.

The 1,052-acre property, called “Camp Hidden Falls,” includes more than two miles of pristine streams, eight “hidden” waterfalls, and 15 acres of wetlands teaming with wildlife. The bulk of the property is wooded, offering essential habitat for a myriad of raptors and songbirds.

The property will help make a future connection between the 70,000-acre Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area and 20,000 acres of Delaware State Forest.

“The Open Space Institute is proud to have partnered in conserving this forested property, which will provide clean drinking water and the climate-resilient habitat to help species to persist and migrate as the climate changes,” said OSI Executive Vice President Peter Howell. “We applaud the work of The Conservation Fund, Natural Lands and the Delaware Highlands Conservancy for completing this regionally significant conservation transaction.”

“For generations, Scouting has been a way for kids to experience nature in a deeply personal way. These vivid experiences—like sinking your toes into the mud at the bottom of a swimming pond, learning to build a campfire, or finding the constellations on a starry night—can catalyze a life-long love of the natural world,” said Molly Morrison, president of Natural Lands and a former Girl Scout. “Natural Lands applauds GSEP for finding a conservation solution for Camp Hidden Falls, and we’re so glad to have helped make it possible.”

In 2012, the Girl Scouts of Eastern Pennsylvania (GSEP) made the difficult decision to close Camp Hidden Falls, the result of efforts to consolidate camp operations across the region and improve facilities at their remaining sites.

GSEP turned to conservation organizations, including Delaware Highlands Conservancy and Natural Lands, to come up with a solution for Camp Hidden Falls. After five years of complex negotiations to find a conservation buyer and identify grant funds to pay for the purchase, all the pieces came together. The Conservation Fund purchased the property in May 2017 and, with support from OSI, transferred it to the National Park Service this week.

In addition to the funding provided by the Open Space Institute’s Delaware River Watershed Protection Fund, capitalized by the William Penn Foundation, and its Resilient Landscapes Fund, which receives funding from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) through the Bureau of Recreation and Conservation’s Community Conservation Partnerships Program also supported the project.

"The acquisition of the Camp Hidden Falls property provides a critical link in connecting federal and state lands and in creating a larger mosaic of contiguous, protected lands in the region," said Kristy Boscheinen, NPS project manager and environmental compliance officer for the park.  

"The Girl Scouts were excellent stewards of the land for decades, protecting its forests, wildlife, rocky outcrops, and the ‘Hidden Falls’ themselves, and we are proud to be stewards of this important property in perpetuity. We also want to extend our gratitude to all of the partners who worked with us to bring this to fruition, including The Conservation Fund, Natural Lands, and Delaware Highlands Conservancy. Future generations can now enjoy another special place within Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area," Boscheinen said.

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