BEACH LAKE, Pa. — From the road, it may still look like a dairy farm; you can see the original barn built in the 1850s. But as of this week, the property near Beach Lake is now called the Van Scott Nature Reserve.
"We're now officially open to the public. We invite people to come out and walk on the beautiful trails," said Bethany Zarnowski, communications and development manager for the Delaware Highlands Conservancy. "We've got about three miles of trails through the meadows and the woods here. It's a really special, beautiful property for the community to enjoy."
After they retired and moved away, the family who owned the dairy farm donated the entire property to the Delaware Highlands Conservancy, a nonprofit that works to conserve land so it won't be developed or subdivided later.
The donation is the largest the conservancy has ever received, something the staff still can't believe. And the scenic backdrop was the perfect opportunity to turn it into something the whole community can enjoy.
"These farms are part of Wayne County's heritage. The entire county is speckled with them," said Jason Zarnowski, reserve coordinator. "So to see this farm like this that's going to stay like this forever and for people to be able to come and visit this and take a walk around see the beautiful things the property and Wayne County have to offer. It's really incredible."
The reserve features more than 100 acres of walking trails all with varying landscapes from the forest to wildflower meadows to wetlands, hoping to offer a little something for everyone.
"You go from walking out in the open and seeing these butterflies and bees to all of the sudden you're in full canopy and it's nice and dark in there. You're walking along this nice woods trail," Jason said.
Now that the reserve is open to the public, the property will also be home to the conservancy's year-round educational workshops, nature walks, and its annual winter Eagle Watch.
On a clear day, the property features scenic views to the southern Catskill Mountains in New York State and to High Point State Park in New Jersey.
"It's so important that the community invests in this property and really appreciates what's here. We're really excited to have people come and join us here," Bethany explained.
The Van Scott Nature Reserve is open every day from sunrise until sunset.