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Conserving and preserving undeveloped land in Lackawanna County

Hundreds of acres of undeveloped land in Lackawanna County will soon be conserved and preserved by an organization whose mission is exactly that.

LACKAWANNA COUNTY, Pa. — Much of the Valley View Business Park on Moosic Mountain in Jessup is covered by asphalt, concrete, and buildings, but there is part of the Business Park, owned by the Scranton Lackawanna Industrial Building Co., or SLIBCO, that is undeveloped. 

"There's wetland, there's sensitive habitat, there's 100-year floodplain, and there's bat habitat and steep slopes, it's a canyon basically," said Bernie McGurl, Lackawanna River Conservation Association Executive Director.

So since the Business Park really has no need for it and cannot build on it, the Lackawanna River Conservation Association's land trust subsidiary, the Lackawanna Valley Conservancy, plans to use grant money to buy this undeveloped land at a discount. 

"It's the interface between the wild habitat and the build habitat in the Valley here, and we're very happy to work with SLIBCO to preserve it and conserve it," McGurl said.

At nearly 300 acres, this will be the Lackawanna Valley Conservancy's largest acquisition of land yet. SLIBCO agreed to sell the land to the Conservancy for half the price it was appraised for. 

"Right now, it's just big woods and mountains, so it's going to open it a little bit for the community to enjoy it. There's also sensitive habitat, so we'll be able to interpret that and help people understand what's up here and why it's so important to preserve," McGurl said.

As the head of the watershed for many tributaries to the Lackawanna River, it is a critically important area for the community's water supply and also for the animals that live there. 

"The bats, the rabbits, the deer, the chipmunks, they need a place to live. They need a place to live, and they help sustain our ability to live here. Protecting this habitat, I think, is one of the most important things we can do," said McGurl.

The land acquisition should be complete by June, and then the work to conserve and preserve the land, along with creating public walking trails, will begin.

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