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Lehigh Valley Greenways

Partnership Work

Lehigh Valley Greenways - Partnership Work

Current Work

At the beginning of each year, the Lehigh Valley Greenways Partners gather at an annual retreat to celebrate the partner accomplishments of the past year and create a joint work plan for the year ahead. Many years, the work plan is an ambitious list to keep us moving toward accomplishing the four goals of the Conservation Landscape. We invite you to review the actions we outlined for 2017 here in the annual partnership action plan.

Power of Partnership

Since the start in 2004, Lehigh Valley Greenways Conservation Landscape has many accomplishments to boast and all due to the power of partnership – a partnership that continues to grow into the second decade.

Partnership-Work
Highlights from the 2016 Partnership Accomplishments

In the 12th year, the value of partnership shines as new partners join and new connections are made to strengthen Lehigh Valley Greenways work.

Below is a list of some of the highlights from 2016 partnership work:

  1. 2nd Annual Festival to promote Lehigh Valley Greenways – Lehigh Valley Greenways, DCNR and Senator Scavello collaborated on September 24, 2016 to bring the region an afternoon of family fun and outdoor activities. About 600 participants enjoyed wonderful weather at Jacobsburg Environmental Education Center and over 20 Lehigh Valley Greenways partners showcased their greenways-related work. Event photos are available in an album on our Facebook page.
  2. New website and logo –  We created an official website (this one!) with lots of information about the conservation landscape and updated the Lehigh Valley Greenways logo with assistance from DCNR and map with assistance from Lehigh Valley Planning Commission. The main website is http://lvgreenways.org/.
  3. Regional events – Lehigh Valley Greenways held three partnership meetings in 2016: one on websites and promotion in March, one on water protection and the sidewalk inventory in July, and one on DCNR strategic initiatives in November. The Eastern PA Greenways & Trails Summit was also held in the Lehigh Valley in September with many partners involved in the planning. The summit’s mobile workshops highlighted Bethlehem’s urban trails and connections of the Lehigh River Water Trail and D&L Trail north of Bethlehem.
  4. Plans for the future – In January, Northampton County adopted Livable Landscapes: An Open Space Plan for Northampton County and secured over $570,000 in grants for trail development and park planning to implement priority projects. Lehigh Valley Planning Commission completed a first-ever sidewalk inventory for the region.
  5. Funding for Lehigh Valley trails – Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor (D&L) and Wildlands Conservancy secured a $750,000 grant from William Penn Foundation for three years to close gaps in the D&L Trail and connecting trails and promote the Lehigh Valley trail network with a new branding and marketing strategy.
  6. Miles of trail built – A total of 3.66 miles of new trail opened in the Lehigh Valley including 1.4 miles of Ironton Rail Trail and 0.66 miles of South Bethlehem Greenway. This brings the total miles of new trail completed since 2004 to 54.15 miles.
  7. Acres of land protected – It was a banner year for land protection and partners completed nine acquisition projects totaling an additional 1,576.5 acres preserved in one year. This greatly increases the total acres preserved since 2004 — 4,113.5 acres!
  8. New class of Master Watershed Stewards – Penn State Extension and the Watershed Coalition of Lehigh Valley trained 20 new master watershed stewards
    bringing total to 204 stewards. In 2016, stewards reported over 1,600 volunteer hours including the building of 60 rain barrels.
  9. Education programming –  Partners reported engaging nearly 37,000 students in outdoor programs including D&L’s Immersion Days, environmental education programs, 2016 Environthon, 4-H and recreational activities. Typically, we also connect with over 100,000 adults annually.
  10. Awarded $77,000 to mini-grant projects throughout Lehigh Valley.
    • $10,000 –2016 Master Watershed Steward projects (two rain gardens, a green roof display and an educational display at Illick’s Mill)
    • $10,000 –Cedar Creek Trail gap environmental clean-up plan
    • $8,000 –Trexler Nature Preserve kiosks and stream protection
    • $8,000 –Urban high school environmental field trips to Poole Wildlife Sanctuary and Muhlenberg College campus
    • $7,500 –Signs and enhancements at D&L Trail: Farmersville Road Trailhead
    • $5,000 –Directional signs along the Two Rivers Trail system in five municipalities
    • $5,000 –Native plants and entrance sign at Upper Mt Bethel Community Park
    • $5,000 –Comprehensive sign replacement in Upper Saucon Twp park along Saucon Rail Trail
    • $4,250 –Stewardship and access plan for Moore Township’s Appalachian Park
    • $3,500 –Native grass and wildflower meadow at Bushkill Township’s Ballas Tract
    • $2,395 – Interactive watershed exhibit at Nurture Nature Center
    • $2,300 – Educational bioretention area at Lafayette College
    • $2,040 – Student-led riparian restoration project in Allentown’s Fountain Park
    • $2,015 – School garden workshops for local educators
    • $2,000 – 4-H environmental science workshops

Past Group Accomplishments

2015
  1. Two inaugural outreach events held to inform the public and elected officials. On a beautiful fall day in September, we held the first Greenways Festival at Jacobsburg Environmental Education Center with partners and local colleges providing activities and explaining their programs. In October, more than 60 people attended the first Greenways Legislative Breakfast including legislators or their staff from two federal offices and nine state offices. At both events, key fact signs from Lehigh Valley Planning Commission’s Lehigh Valley Return on Environment (2014) report were displayed along the walkways.
  2. Regional, state and national awards celebrated partner projects. Representatives from Wildlands Conservancy and D&L attended the International Trails Symposium in Portland, OR to accept the National Kids & Trails Award for Wildlands’ Bike & Boat program and National Trails & Health Award for the growing Get Your Tail on the Trail program. PALTA honored Northampton County’s 21st Century Open Space Initiative with the Government Conservation Leadership Award. Lehigh Valley Planning Commission celebrated great accomplishments at its 2nd Annual Gala. Award recipients included Bushkill Township for Community of Distinction Award and Bethlehem’s Hoover Mason Trestle for Revitalization/Environmental Project.
  3. Partners continued land preservation. Through the continued work of many partners, 412 more acres of open space has been preserved in the Lehigh Valley bringing the total since 2004 to 2,537 acres. This includes 18 acres purchased by Natural Lands Trust to add to the Archibald Johnston Preserve and over 365 acres preserved through municipal open space programs. Northampton County also completed agricultural easements on an additional 508.8 acres of farmland.
  4. Lehigh Valley trails gained popularity beyond the region. The September 11th National Memorial Trail Alliance announced co-alignment of the memorial trail through the Lehigh Valley on existing trails. In September, many partners joined a celebratory trail ride following the announced route along the D&L, Ironton and Two Rivers trails. The riders also stopped in Wind Gap to celebrate its recent designation as the newest AT Trail Town. In 2015, partners completed 2.5 new miles of trail to bring the total miles of trail opened by partners since 2004 to 50.5 miles and it was a busy year for landowner outreach, trail studies and trail design.
  5. Municipal partners improved key community parks. Upper Mt Bethel Twp made great strides on the development of its 90-acre community park by installing a wetland observation platform, ¼ mile of trail lined with native plants, parking area, rain gardens and a nature inspired playground.  Lehigh County made improvements at Leaser Lake and completed the Trexler Nature Preserve’s Master Site Plan with a bridge over Jordan Creek to connect the Border Trail.
  6. Increased watershed education and recreation opportunities. The Watershed Coalition of Lehigh Valley led the planning for a successful 2015 Lehigh Valley Watershed Conference. The event showcased 19 talks related to the Freshwater Ecology theme and a student networking reception to connect college students to area professionals. Access to boating was improved with two new boat launches in Lehigh County. Wildlands Conservancy coordinated with partners to install a launch and extra parking at Cove Road Trailhead along the D&L Trail and Lehigh River Water Trail. Lehigh County Parks Department installed an ADA accessible fishing pier and canoe/kayak launch at Leaser Lake.
  7. Education programs reached over 100,000 people. Partners continue to work together to reach minority populations with environmental education. Lehigh Gap Nature Center (LGNC) expanded the Color of Nature program with residential internships, afterschool programs at Roberto Clemente Middle and Elementary Charter Schools, and a second Conservation Leadership Academy with Jacobsburg EE Center. Wildlands Conservancy, Jacobsburg and LGNC collaborated to create a multiple field trip program and implement in two urban schools. Penn State Extension programs and volunteers connected with 19,890 people to educate and inspire their connections to nature and the local Master Watershed Steward program expanded to other Pennsylvania counties.
  8. Completed plans outlined future open space and trail projects. Lehigh Valley Planning Commission, with an involved steering committee, created the Northampton County Open Space Plan update, Livable Landscapes, to set goals for the County involving recreation; farmland; natural resources; and historic, cultural and scenic resources. The plan charts a course for conservation, restoration and enhancement of the County’s open space resources. Bethlehem City completed a trail feasibility study with input from relevant partners and the public to outline the best options for connecting the City’s growing trail network including the D&L Trail, South Bethlehem Greenway, and Monocacy Way.
  9. Trails and health partnerships grew and gained recognition. Get Your Tail on the Trail, founded by D&L National Heritage Corridor and St. Luke’s Health Network, launched a pilot trail prescription program, welcomed new partners, and expanded events to incorporate local recreation businesses, nutritious local produce, and bicycle safety.  Get Out! Lehigh Valley, a partnership between Wildlands Conservancy and Lehigh Valley Health Network, held 18 walks at trails and parks throughout the region connecting trails and health.
  10. Awarded $95,500 to mini-grant projects throughout Lehigh Valley.
    • $5,000 –2015 LV Watershed Conference
    • $12,500 –Monocacy Creek  Trout Unlimited ecological restoration
    • $10,000 –Bethlehem trail directional signage
    • $7,500 –Sober’s Run streambank restoration
    • $12,500 –North Whitehall Twp Ironton Rail Trail extension
    • $12,500 –Upper Mt Bethel Community Park wetland observation area and trail
    • $18,000 –Landscaping for Communities & Wildlife program: native plant and pollinator gardens
    • $10,000 –Plainfield Twp recreation trail improvements
    • $5,000 –Color of Nature conservation leader training through Lehigh Gap Nature Center
    • $2,500 –LV Planning Commission Return on Environment outreach & education
2014
  1. Record attendance at Eastern Pennsylvania Greenways & Trails Summit held in the Lehigh Valley. The biennial conference attracted 180 participants for two days of networking, sharing best practices, connecting with funding sources, and learning from professionals. A Lehigh Valley mobile workshop highlighted new trails and enhanced amenities and featured a model example of a complex PennDOT road crossing.
  2. Return on Environment report provided data on the economic value of Lehigh Valley open space. The report completed by Lehigh Valley Planning Commission and Wildlands Conservancy focuses on the analysis of four components: Natural System Services, Air Quality, Outdoor Recreation, and Property Values. Study shows the annual total impact of outdoor recreation to the economy is $796M. Northampton County Open Space & Farmland Preservation programs used this data to help secure 2015 funding.
  3. Partners recognized for outstanding work. Lehigh Gap Nature Center received the inaugural Excellence in Site Reuse Award from U.S. EPA District II for their astounding transformation of a superfund site to a flourishing natural area. DCNR presented the City of Easton with the 2014 Green Park Award for creating wetland and natural landscaping in Sullivan Park to eliminate damaging stormwater runoff. Bushkill Township accepted the 2014 Joseph Ibberson Government Award from the PA Parks and Forests Foundation for protecting natural areas around Jacobsburg State Park. Lehigh Valley Planning Commission awarded City of Bethlehem with the Community of Distinction Award and the partnership of Upper Mt. Bethel Township, The Nature Conservancy and Kirkridge Retreat with the Open Space Project Award.
  4. Trail projects closer to closing key gaps. D&L received a $217,000 grant to eliminate three environmental obstructions on the trail from Northampton to Catasauqua. Bethlehem constructed the Skate Plaza Patio along South Bethlehem Greenway with restrooms and concession stand and initiated a trail feasibility study to assess trail connections. Lehigh County completed engineering and permitting for 0.75 miles of the Jordan Creek Greenway and a bridge across Jordan Creek. Wildlands Conservancy secured a trail easement on private property along Jordan Creek Greenway. Forty-eight miles of trail opened since 2004.
  5. Greening Lehigh Valley businesses and communities. Lehigh Gap Nature Center’s Conservation Landscaping program installed eight native plant gardens at businesses, public parks and universities and conducted three workshops on gardening with native plants. Demonstration forests to educate the public about sustainable forestry were created at Jacobsburg State Park and Trexler Nature Preserve. DCNR Bureau of Forestry TreeVitalize program funded the planting of 215 street trees. Northampton and Lehigh County conservation districts planted over 400 native trees and shrubs. Since 2007, 3,005 riparian plantings and 1,985 street trees have been planted.
  6. New class of Master Watershed Stewards (MWS) trained and more watershed projects completed. Eighteen new MWS graduated from training coordinated by Penn State Extension, Northampton County Conservation District and the Watershed Coalition of the Lehigh Valley with lessons conducted by partners throughout the region. With 35 now trained, the MWS developed aquaponics and water cycle curricula, made 1,544 educational contacts with the public, and assisted with bacteria sampling on six previously unassessed streams. Additionally, five rain gardens were planted at schools and municipal buildings and Martins Jacoby Watershed Association succeeded in having the Atlas Dam removed.
  7. Environmental educators engaged diverse audiences. Lehigh Gap Nature Center and DCNR Jacobsburg Environmental Education Center coordinated the first Conservation Leadership Academy to interest minority students in environmental leadership. The Color of Nature program involved hundreds of students and families in 36 programs at Roberto Clemente Charter School and city and state parks. A variety of other environmental education programs were held by the conservation districts, Wildlands Conservancy, Martins Jacoby Watershed Association, Jacobsburg and Delaware Canal state parks to reach tens of thousands of people.
  8. Collaborative efforts advanced critical land preservation. Northampton County closed farm easements for 775 acres and funded the preservation of 323 acres of open space. Bushkill Township acquired 101 acres, focusing on future trail locations. The Nature Conservancy and their partners secured funding from DCNR for targeted land protection along the Kittatinny Ridge for the next three years. Since 2004, a total of 2,125 acres have been preserved.
  9. Healthy living programs brought thousands to local trails. An additional 1,900 people registered for Get Your Tail on the Trail, a wellness initiative started by D&L and St. Luke’s University Health Network to encourage people to get outdoors and active by tracking their trail miles. Between May 2013 and November 2014, 871,000 miles have been logged by participants. Trails and public parks were the focus of many walks organized by Get Out! Lehigh Valley, a partnership between Wildlands Conservancy and Lehigh Valley Health Network, to provide more walking events to lure the public to exciting locations for families to exercise together.
  10. Lehigh Valley Greenways successfully transitioned into second decade. D&L hired a new conservation coordinator with DCNR assistance, and partners helped with a smooth transition from the coordinator of the past 10 years, Sherry Acevedo, to Claire Sadler. During the interim, a survey collected feedback from involved partners to show that the majority felt networking and implementing local and regional plans are the largest benefits; land conservation and trail building have been and should continue to be top priorities; and over 82 percent are willing to commit the same or more time to the Lehigh Valley Greenways Partnership.
2013
  1. Lehigh Valley Planning Commission updates planning documents to advance trails and conservation. Becky Bradley, formerly the Planning Director of the City of Easton, is the new Executive Director. The finalized Natural Heritage Inventory update provides data to incorporate in the Natural Resources Plan and Lehigh Valley Greenways Plan. A preliminary analysis, which only involved replacing the old NHI data with the updated NHI data in the Natural Resources Plan, resulted in an increase of 15,000 acres and 7,000 acres in the Very High and High Conservation Priority areas, respectively. The updated Lehigh Valley Trails Inventory report included Trail Gaps and Safe Trail Crossings sections. Official Map workshops and meetings held.
  2. Protected an additional 274 acres in priority landscapes. The Nature Conservancy protected 50 acres of vernal pools and valuable woodland habitat and now holds a 165-acre conservation easement on the Kittatinny Ridge. Lehigh Gap Nature Center acquired two-acres on the Kittatinny Ridge and Wildlands Conservancy preserved 59 acres on South Mountain. Northampton County Council approved County Open Space funding to preserve157 acres. Since 2004, there is now a total of 1,700 acres conserved in open space. The County also approved nine farms to be added into farmland preservation.
  3. The Jacobsburg Environmental Education Center is now open. The Center now offers expanded educational opportunities and is eligible for LEED certification as a “green building” using sustainable design. Community and educational programming like Family Film nights are offered in their indoor classrooms. School field trips, colleges and universities utilize the facility for indoor instruction, outdoor exploration, and research. A total of four new nature center buildings built. JEEC hosted the launch of the Wegman’s Passport to Family Wellness program that features trails at 9 nature centers.
  4. Priority trail projects advanced, 6 new miles open. Constructed the .5 mile Hugh Moore Park connector to Palmer Township, 1.3 mile Jordan Creek Greenway in Jordan Parkway, 2 mile Saucon Rail Trail in Upper Saucon Township, and .5 mile Stockertown section; resurfaced 1.5 mile D&L Trail section in Freemansburg; and designed .75 mile section of the South Bethlehem Greenway. Improved signage at D&L pedestrian crossing in Palmer Township, and built the Rare and Forgotten Flora Trail at Lehigh Gap Nature Center and Sensory Trail at Poole Wildlife Sanctuary. Forty-eight miles of trail opened since 2004.
  5. Documented the economic and social benefits of trails. City of Bethlehem completed a Southside Greenway Utilization Report finding that 97% of trail users give the trail an overall rating of “excellent” and “good”; almost half are visiting a business; more than half purchased a durable good; and 12% are using to commute to work/school. A Rails to Trails Conservancy study on the D&L Trail tallied 282,796 user visits and total economic impact nearly $19 million in the Corridor, of that $16 million spent in local economies.
  6. Ongoing science work continues on the Kittatinny Ridge. Lehigh Gap Nature Center facilitated a second science summit featuring: the critical role of topography and elevation in habitat variability and climate change adaption, biodiversity protection, songbirds as indicators of forest integrity and density, habitat management of specific species and songbirds in State Game Lands 217, and update on PA Amphibian and Reptile Survey. Breakout groups discussed existing science projects, monitoring, and data needs. Concerns were raised about loss of habitat and wetlands under power lines and the need to work with utility companies.
  7. More trees planted to restore riparian buffers and provide shade. There were 600 trees and shrubs planted along the Jordan Creek and ADA Trail at Trexler Nature Preserve as part of the TreeVitalize riparian program. 90 streets trees planted in the City of Easton and Borough of Fountain Hill. Bureau of Forestry designated a wild plant sanctuary at Whitehall-Coplay School District and an Eagle Scout installed deer fencing to protect a rare plant; and BOF also completed five stewardship plans placing 150 acres in a forest stewardship program. Total number of trees planted since 2007 is 4,370 including 2,600 WDIY (LV public radio station) riparian plantings, and 1,770 street plantings.
  8. Provided education programs to all ages with a new focus on connecting diverse populations to conservation. Wildlands Conservancy hosted 15 urban youth in Lehigh Valley Adventure Camp. Lehigh Gap Nature Center had over 4,300 students participate in field trips or in- school programs and started the Color of Nature program that included 8 bilingual nature walks in Allentown’s parks and 2 programs at Beltzville State Park. D&L and MJWA staff conducted outdoor classroom programs at Ott Environmental Learning Campus, taught 120 second graders at Bangor Elementary School, and 150 Bethlehem middle school students at Sand Island; Delaware Canal State Park held 357 programs with more than 5,000 students and adults.
  9. Workshops and trainings lead partners to implementation. D&L Alliance hosted workshops on Accessible Trails and Safe Crossings in Eastern Pennsylvania with 47 participants that included PENNDOT presenters. District 5-0 PENNDOT Pedestrian Coordinator Steve Pohowsky honored with a National Trails “State Trail Worker of the Year” Award. Stockertown Borough Council members applied valuable information learned by attending every trail workshop offered, designed, and began construction of their 1-mile trail. Working with PENNDOT, the Borough designed and installed the first median island pedestrian crossing. Penn State Extension and the Lehigh Valley Watershed Coalition launched the Master Watershed Steward Program that trained 18 master stewards who completed rain gardens and riparian planting demonstration projects.
  10. Partners complete watershed restoration. Northampton County Conservation District planted 2 rain gardens and 500 trees and shrubs as model demonstration project at Hellertown’s Tuminello Park. City of Allentown in partnership with Wildlands Conservancy completed a removal of 6 dams along the Little Lehigh and Jordan Creeks; Martins Jacoby Watershed Association completed 700 ft. fish habitat project on the Oughoughton Creek and riparian plantings and established a no mow zone at Kreidersville Covered Bridge. Northampton County Conservation District planted a model rain garden at Bath Borough’s Keystone Park.
2012
  1. DCNR Bureau of Forestry tree plantings canopy the Lehigh Valley. Lehigh Valley Greenways welcomed Service Forester Tim Latz in full-time capacity serving both Northampton and Lehigh counties. A Tree Vitalize buffer planting of 550 trees, 179 street tree plantings, and the first American Chestnut Orchard of 400 seedlings in a 4-acre orchard at Treadler Nature Preserve were completed. The Chestnut Orchard will aid in the national movement to reestablish the blight resistant trees into existing forests and restore the American chestnut to its native range. Since fall 2008, a total of 3,680 trees including 2,000 riparian and 1,680 street trees are helping to restore green to the Lehigh Valley.
  2. The Nature Conservancy targets 235 acres to be conserved in the MinsiLake – Kittatinny Ridge Corridor. The Nature Conservancy is protectingvernal pools and valuable woodland habitat on four parcels including 70 acresin fee simple acquisition and 166 acres conservation easement. Funding tocomplete land conservation is provided by PA Department of Conservation &Natural Resources, Northampton County, and Upper Mount Bethel Township;the prime example of leveraging open space funding from the state,Northampton County open space program, and UMBT open space funding to protect this critical landscape.
  3. More than 11 new miles of trail open in the Lehigh Valley. Construction of 3 miles of D&L Trail in Lehighton Borough, 2.5 miles of resurfacing in Hugh Moore Park, and 2 miles of D&L Trail in Allentown continue to provide connections into communities and close gaps. Lehigh County celebrated the opening of 1.2 miles of Jordan Creek Greenway in Whitehall Township. City of Bethlehem completed 1.8 mile South Bethlehem Greenway and Skatepark enhancements. Bushkill Township constructed 3 miles of PPL Trail and trailhead development. Forty-three miles of new trail have opened since 2004. Over 1,000 people from around the world experienced the D&L Trail in the 2nd annual Delaware & Lehigh Heritage Marathon and half marathon.
  4. Ongoing science work on the Kittatinny Ridge unites the science and conservation community. Lehigh Gap Nature Center facilitated a science summit of more than 60 professionals from the science and conservation community. Research is being gathered from Fort Indiantown Gap to Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. The Center educated more than 5,000 students on conservation and the Kittatinny Ridge and hosted over 100 participants in its annual Migration Fest. In partnership with Audubon TogetherGreen Fellowship, year two of the Eastern PA Phenology Project citizen scientists collected data on seasonal changes and impacts to species, such as 17 forest bird species arrived earlier in the spring due to unseasonable warmer temperatures.
  5. DCNR Secretary Allan helps break ground for the Jacobsburg Environmental Education Center anticipated to open August 2013. The new center will be a 9,300-square-foot facility offering education space for interpretive programming, offices for center staff, and modern public restrooms for park visitors. The building will include a green roof planted with vegetation; solar panels; geothermal heating and cooling; onsite storm-water infiltration; water conserving plumbing fixtures; regionally purchased materials; and high recycled-content materials.
  6. City of Easton rejuvenates maintenance in Hugh Moore Park. Two full-time city park employees are now dedicated to daily maintenance in the park, helping remove invasive plant species and hazardous trees and resurfacing 2.5 miles of D&L Trail. A recent DCNR Community Conservation Partnerships Program grant award will allow the city to continue park improvements and beautification. Penn State University completed a city-wide tree inventory for the city forester to implement maintenance and replanting recommendations.
  7. Northampton County restores open space funding to support land conservation, parks, and greenways. Conservation leaders educated Northampton County Council on the importance of protecting critical open space and committed to make it a priority by restoring full funding and creating an open space coordinator position. County Council approved the 2013 budget of $3.7 million including $1 million for natural areas, $1 million for municipal parks, $1 million for farmland preservation, and $700,000 for county parks.
  8. Partners install riparian buffers and complete stream stabilization projects in priority stream corridors. Northampton County Conservation District and the PPL Electric Utilities Corporation partnered with local watershed associations to install riparian buffers on five PPL power line stream crossings. Martins Jacoby Watershed Association completed stream bank stabilization projects on three streams to prevent further soil erosion. Sixty-three D&L Trail Tenders stabilized 300 feet and planted native plants to restore the Lehigh River bank at Sand Island.
  9. Lehigh Valley partners host regional conferences on greenways, trails, and conservation. Delaware & Lehigh Alliance hosted the Eastern PA Greenways & Trails Summit with more than 150 participants. Thirteen counties partnered in the planning of the event. The fifth Lehigh Valley Watershed Conference brought 125 people to Lehigh University to discuss common watershed issues.
  10. Workshops and programs provide education to people of all ages. Wildlands Conservancy led 15 urban youth in a Lehigh Valley Adventure Camp and 950 students in an EnviroMentor program. Delaware Canal State Park led fitness walk-a-thons and completed an outdoor classroom at Giving Pond. Lehigh Valley Planning Commission hosted an official map workshop and facilitated the Natural Heritage Inventory update. NCCD and MJWA conducted new agricultural environmental regulations workshop and an Act 48 Teachers workshop.
2011
  1. Strong county support from Northampton County and Lehigh County. Northampton County Executive John Stoffa dedicated the County’s Wayne A. Grube Memorial Park. The County invested $5 million and developed the first 50 acres of the park’s 200 acres with a connection to the Nor-Bath Rail Trail. Northampton County Conservation District expanded community watershed education on best management practices. Lehigh County dedicated 6.5 miles of D&L Trail to complete the 13 mile connection into Carbon County. Lehigh County Conservation District hosted a successful LV Watershed Conference with 150 attendees and the LV Sustainable Bus Tour of seven sites in Lehigh County.
  2. Martin’s Jacoby Watershed “Super Volunteer” John Mauser completes another Stream Bank Stabilization Project on the Little Martins Creek. In partnership with the PA Fish & Boat Commission, PPL, Lower Mount Bethel Township, Northampton County Conservation District, and Forks of the Delaware Chapter of Trout Unlimited, a 260 foot section of Little Martins Creek was stabilized to improve stream habitat. Stream bank native plantings complement in-stream devices to prevent erosion and stop encroachment on the creek.
  3. Bushkill Township and partners use strategic land conservation practices to preserve 495 acres of critical habitat along Sober’s Run. Thanks to the valiant efforts of the Bushkill Township Board of Supervisors and the Environmental Advisory Council, easements have been secured on 20 farms totaling 385 acres; 66 acres of stream side buffers and riparian woodlands, and fee simple acquisition has protected 44 wooded acres. All properties adjoin the PPL Trail and Sober’s Run, listed as high priority for preservation from Jacobsburg State Park to the Kittatinny Ridge. The Township used dedicated open space funding from its Earned Income Tax revenue.
  4. Another banner year for the Delaware and Lehigh Trail in the Lehigh Valley. Construction of 6.5 miles of the D&L Trail section in Lehigh County makes a continuous 13-mile trail from Cementon into Carbon County. More than 75 people attended a ribbon cutting at the Slatington trailhead, adjacent to the community built restroom and pavilion structure made of slate material from a local quarry. The D&L Trail Alliance and regional Lehigh Valley Trail Council were established and kickoff meetings conducted in its inaugural year.
  5. Lehigh Valley Planning Commission began an update to the Natural Heritage Inventory for the Lehigh Valley in 2011. LVPC contracted with the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy to complete the inventory. Funding was provided by PennDOT and DCNR grants.
  6. Progress made on the Two Rivers Area Trail system and more trail miles open– 40% of 17 mile goal is reached. The City of Easton opened the 2.4 mile Karl Stirner Arts Trail, an urban trail which includes the City’s first dog park adjacent to the trail. Bush kill Township began construction of the 2.5 mile PPL Trail. The Township hosted a trail building demonstration, public work crews explained their process which was featured on D&L YouTube channel. Stockertown Borough initiated survey and design on the 1-mile Stockertown Recreation Trail.
  7. First section of Jordan Creek Greenway opens. Lehigh County dedicated 1.2 miles of trail within Lehigh County’s Jordan Creek
    Parkway in Whitehall Township as the first official mile of Jordan Creek Greenway opens. It was a priority project listed in the Jordan Creek Greenway plan coordinated by Wildlands Conservancy.
  8. Urban revitalization and re-greening in the cities of Allentown, Bethlehem, and Easton. Allentown completes large scale ecological restoration of approximately 3 miles of Trout Creek with installation of habitat structures and native plant species, becoming the largest stream bank restoration in PA Fish & Boat Commission history. Bethlehem opens next section of South Bethlehem Greenway; more than 400 trees planted in the urban forestry program. Easton renovated Riverside Park and Scott Park providing enhancements to the trail, playground, amphitheater, and native landscaping; and renovated Sullivan Park including a new playground and constructed wetlands for stormwater management, and partnered with DCNR Bureau of Forestry and WDIY to plant 330 trees along the Karl Stirner Arts Trail.
  9. D&L hosted a successful announcement of mini-grants in Hellertown Borough at Water Street Park. D&L awarded 17 mini grants to 13 entities in the Lehigh Valley. County Executives John Stoffa and Don Cunningham provided supportive comments to the grant recipients. A guided walk on the new Saucon Rail Trail was provided by the managers of Hellertown Borough and Lower Saucon Township.
  10. Environmental Education programs on the rise in the Lehigh Valley. Great progress is made on the Jacobsburg Resource Conservation Center with construction bid in early 2012. Delaware Canal State Park outdoor classroom at Giving Pond is 50% complete. Lehigh Gap Nature Center hosts 1st Migration Fest and conducted educational programs for nearly 5,000 students of all ages. Wild lands Conservancy engaged two high schools in the EnviroMentor program to educate student mentors about conservation.
2010
  1. First Lehigh Valley Trails Summit held at DeSales University in September. Over 120 participants from nonprofit organizations, municipalities, and consultants participated in the two day event. A big highlight was the mobile workshops. Also at the event, county executives recognized our three Lehigh Valley leaders who were recipients of PEC’s 40 under 40 awards: Sherry Acevedo, Tim Dugan, and Chris Kocher.
  2. Opening of two state of the art environmental education centers. First in May, the Trexler Environmental Education Center opened; Lehigh County’s first “green” building and also a satellite office facility for DCNR’s William Penn Forest District. In July, a ten-year-old vision to turn a Superfund site into a nature center was celebrated when Lehigh Gap Nature Center opened its doors to its new green visitor and education building.
  3. Allentown, Bethlehem and Easton all celebrated major groundbreaking and ribbon cutting events. Allentown opened its new Cedar Beach destination playground and completed its Connecting Our Community: A Plan for Connecting the City’s parks and people through bike/ped trails and advanced its first project with Martin Luther King Blvd; Bethlehem opened its world class Skateplaza; renovated Higbee Park with the PA League of Cities, and broke ground for the Bethlehem Greenway; Easton completed a “road diet” for Larry Holmes Drive and completed in partnership with the Bushkill Stream Conservancy the Sullivan Park Wetland renovation project.
  4. A banner year for the Delaware and Lehigh Trail in the Lehigh Valley. The partnership of D&L, Wildlands Conservancy, and Lehigh County secured the remaining six segments of trail right-of-way equaling 1- mile to add to the previously purchased 11.3 miles of continuous railroad right-of-way in Lehigh County. Lehigh County and D&L constructed 2.7 miles opening up access to the Lehigh River with 6.5 miles currently under construction. 2010 concluded with the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission awarding the D&L with $488,000 in PennDOT enhancement funds for trail improvements from Northampton Borough to North Catasauqua. This additional funding will help construct 1.2 miles of trail and resolve an infrastructure challenge which obstructs the trail expected in2012.
  5. Progress made on the Two Rivers Area Trail. Four municipalities made huge progress on their trail sections of this 15-mile trail system. Wilson Borough completed its ¾ mile of trail. Bushkill Township is currently constructing 2.5 miles through an outstanding partnership with DCNR’s Jacobsburg Environmental Education Center. Palmer Township completed design of 1-mile of trail. The City of Easton completed design and bid its 3-mile trail. Construction of 7.5 miles of trail is expected in 2011. D&L coordinated an outstanding Trail Crossing Workshop with PennDOT District 5 and Central Office to improve pedestrian and trail access in the Lehigh Valley and beyond.
  6. The Lehigh Valley Planning Commission becomes the first Pennsylvania county to begin actively implementing the Appalachian Trail Zoning Legislation. LVPC staff completed an assessment of Bushkill and Plainfield townships to “test out” the AT checklist assessment tool and developed this guidebook: Protect the Trail: A Guide to Protecting the AT for Lehigh Valley municipalities. LVPC staff has meetings scheduled with municipalities to discuss plan recommendations beginning in January.
  7. Wildlands Conservancy completed the Jordan Creek Greenway Plan and began implementing. The conservancy secured over $2 million in state, county, and Trexler Trust Foundation funding to begin a five-year implementation effort. Funding has been secured for the first trail section in Whitehall Township with a DCNR grant award of $230,000 and PennDOT funding award of $449,500. A picturesque artist rendering of the proposed trail was created and presented to major landowners along the greenway to visualize trail route and secure by-in.
  8. Martin’s Jacoby Watershed “Super Volunteer” John Mauser completed eight riparian buffer projects with in-stream aquatic habitat improvements for $90,000 (6 more than planned); one area’s habitat improved so significantly biological testing proved stream is healthy producing native wild brown trout. PA Fish & Boat Commission biologist sampling proves Martins Creek can be upgraded to classification and management as a Class A Wild Trout Waters. Brown trout biomass is four times higher than minimum biomass for Class A designation.
  9. Conducted first ever bus tour of sustainable parks in Northampton County. There was an overwhelming response of 105 participants resulting in the need to “double” the buses from 1-2. Seven great examples of ways to plan and manage land in a healthier, more environmentally friendly way while saving money were part of the tour. Plans are in the works to fill four buses for a similar tour that will be held in Lehigh County in June.
  10. Lehigh Valley Greenways featured in the Pennsylvania Conservation Landscape Initiatives Report. Lehigh Valley was one of two featured case studies; a five year summary report is near complete.
2009
 Steering Committee Agreed to these 2009 Implementation Priorities:
  • Continued land conservation – acquired 121 acres of targeted parcels, advanced 377 acres, and identified nearly 500 acres in the Conservation Assistance Program (CAP)
  • Municipal adoption of LVPC environmental regulations –Upper Nazareth and Whitehall Twp adopted steep slopes ordinance; Plainfield Twp adopted riparian buffer and wetland ordinance
  • Implement AT Act –LVPC and DCNR participated on interagency task force, supported public meetings and resource material development. LVPC worked with Plainfield and Bushkill Township to demonstrate use of AT Municipal Self-Assessment checklist
  • Trail building – Built 28 miles of trails
Signature projects:
  • Two Rivers Area Trail (Easton to AT) – 18 mile goal: opened an additional mile to link to 6 open miles and advanced an additional 6.5 miles
  • AT Zoning Legislation Implementation – see #2 above
  • Trexler Nature Preserve EE Building – Park officially opened in November; EE building under construction
Goal 1 – Land Conservation and Restoration:
  • Ecology Team developed land conservation strategy along Kittatinny Ridge based on LVPC’s prioritization map – 50% unprotected
  • Conservancies initiated land conservation outreach to 30 landowners on the Kittatinny Ridge
  • Received DEP Environmental Quality Board approval to accept Sober’s Run Exceptional Value upgrade petition submission, prepared by D&L and Bushkill Township
  • Bushkill Stream Conservancy published Establishing Streamside Buffer Areas in Your Park or Community 
  • City of Bethlehem removed 2 acres of Japanese Knotweed along the Saucon Creek
  • Lehigh County removed 100 acres of Autumn Olive and BOF lead reforestation of over 500 trees at Trexler Nature Preserve
  • Multiple partners restored eight stream sections with more than 3,200 native plants
  • 143 volunteers contributed 572 hours on stream cleanups and educational workshops in the Saucon Creek Watershed- Lehigh County Conservation District and Saucon Creek Watershed Association
  • Heritage Conservancy initiated implementation of the Upper Mount Bethel Township Open Space Plan and The Nature Conservancy contacted 130 landowners and hosted a workshop (20 attended)
  • Northampton Co. partners established the Bertsch-Hokendauqua-Catasauqua Watershed Association
Goal 2 – Outdoor Recreation and Trail Connections:
  • Multiple partners constructed and opened 28 miles of trails (3.2 miles D&L Trail in Lehigh County, 19 miles Trexler Nature Preserve, 3 miles Lower Mount Bethel Twp, 1 mile Wilson Borough, 1 mile Slate Heritage Trail in Lehigh County, 1 mile South Bethlehem Greenway)
  • D&L and partners completed Two Rivers Area Greenway Trails Implementation Strategy; strategy to connect 18 miles of trail and potential for 32 mile regional network
  • City of Easton completed trail design and bid package for 3-mile section (spring 2010 construct)
  • Plainfield Township completed rail-trail trailhead improvements
  • JEE and Bushkill Twp staff constructed bridge over Sober’s Run on the Bushkill Township PPL Trail (part of Two Rivers Trail System)
  • Bushkill Twp completed survey, wetlands delineation, and trail alignment for PPL Trail
  • D&L completed survey and trail design complete along remaining 6-mile D&L Trail
  • Lehigh Valley Planning Commission completed Lehigh Valley Trails Inventory
Goal 3 Community Revitalization – Key city park and recreation improvements highlighted
  • Easton planted 212 trees –urban forestry program & tree vitalize
  • Allentown planted over 1,000 trees – urban forestry, tree vitalize, riparian buffer planting
  • Bethlehem planted over 300 trees – urban forestry, tree vitalize
  • Allentown released draft trail network study for adoption in winter 2010
  • Allentown formed a Park Friends Group and an official partnership with Wildlands Conservancy
  • Allentown broke ground for Cedar Creek Park improvements and completed with PSU a pre-renovation survey report on park use
  • Easton riverfront park re-development/re-greening plans complete; Larry Holmes Drive traffic calming pedestrian crossing complete
  • Easton completed design for Heil Pool, completing design work for Milton St., Eddyside and Heil parks (construction expected for all four projects in 2010)
  • Bethlehem held a weeklong DCNR/Wildlands Conservancy Adventure Camp
  • Bethlehem completed design for skatepark (construct in 2010) and advanced greenway
Goal 4 Education and Outreach
  • PEC helped established another EAC in Moore Township bringing total EACs to 24
  • PEC coordinated LV EAC conference with 40 participants represented
  • Lehigh County Conservation District and partners hosted the 3rd Lehigh Valley Watershed Conference- 175 participants
  • Lehigh Conservation District and partners completed the Saucon Creek Watershed Conservation Management Plan
  • Martins Jacoby Watershed and partners completed the Martins Jacoby Watershed Conservation Management Plan
  • LVPC completed woodland environmental regulation complete and municipal workshop training on all four ordinances (3 municipalities adopted 3 ordinances)
  • Upper Mount Bethel Twp adopted Conservation by Design, with Natural Lands Trust assistance
  • Heritage Conservancy and Wildlands Conservancy published Leaders in the Field – highlights Seven Successful Municipal Open Space Referendums in the Lehigh Valley
  • Wildlands Conservancy and partners completed the Jordan Creek Greenway Plan
  • Upper Mount Bethel Township and Plainfield Township completed and adopted open space plans
  • Lower Mount Bethel Township hosted a grand opening of their Visitor Center and 3-mile trail
  • Lehigh County and partners dedicated/opened Trexler Nature Preserve and held groundbreaking for education building
  • Lehigh Gap Nature Center held groundbreaking and completed outside construction on education building
  • Sub-landscape leads, DCNR, and D&L developed draft LVG Communications Strategy
2008
Trail Initiatives:
  • Trails Built: Approximately 3 miles of trail built (.6 mile D&L Trail and 2 miles in Palmer Township); 12 miles of trail opened at Trexler Nature Preserve with ½ mile ADA
  • Trail Corridor Acquired: 45.9 acres and approximately 8 miles of trail right-of-way (South Bethlehem Greenway 30 acres, 2 miles and PPL trail donation 15.9 acres over 6 miles to connect Jacobsburg to Kittatinny Ridge)
  • Trails to be designed & built in 2009: 10 miles of trail expected to be built (Stockertown, PPL Trail, Palmer Township, Easton, South Bethlehem, and D&L Trail)
Lehigh Valley Tree Vitalize:
  • Kick-off – Fall 2008- $96,600 DCNR approved requests to plant 398 trees in 7 municipalities in Lehigh & Northampton counties; cost per tree $243.00
  • City of Bethlehem planted over 400 trees total through a combination of CDBG, Elm Street and Tree Vitalize
  • City of Easton planted over 300 trees combination of CDBG and Tree Vitalize
  • City of Allentown planted over 125 trees
  • Total of nearly 1,000 trees planted in the Lehigh Valley through city Urban Forestry Initiatives and municipal tree canopy enhancement
LVPC Model Natural Resource Ordinances:
  • 3 Ordinances Complete: Adopted and available on LVPC website  Floodplain
  •  Steep Slopes
  •  Riparian Buffer
  • 2009 Projection: To complete final ordinance Forestry; planned ordinance training for municipal officials and EACs; municipal outreach and technical assistance on ordinance adoption and implementation
3 Environmental Education Centers:
  • Building designs complete: Trexler Nature Preserve (Long Skinny Glass Building), Lehigh Gap Nature Center, Jacobsburg Resource Conservation Center
  • 2009 Projection: all buildings to be bid for construction
Education and Outreach initiatives:
  • 1st ever Sustainable Community Parks Conference planned and conducted  164 attendees participated in the conference
  •  20 sponsors/exhibitors
  •  Representation of 50 municipalities in northeastern PA
  • Better Models for Development Conservation Training with Ed McMahon – 2 day event – 175 people at public event; 85 people for Conservation Training
  • Lehigh Valley EAC Conference
Riparian restoration projects:
  • Completed along the Bushkill Creek, Sand Island (Bethlehem) and Martins Creek for a total cost of $75,000
  • Stabilized streambank and riparian buffer with native plants, trees, and shrubs
  • Partnership with FBC on design plans and technical assistance
Kittatinny Ridge Sub-Landscape:
  • LVG lead 4 county coordination effort to discuss zoning, land conservation, and overall planning in response to passing of HB 1281 Appalachian Trail Zoning Legislation
  • Ecology team – LVPC mapping complete for parcel prioritization of land conservation efforts of very high conservation value
  • 2009 Projection – LVPC to create consistent zoning for ridge municipalities; conservancies to conduct land conservation focused on ridge
Urban Forestry:
  • City of Bethlehem – forester hired and program initiated
  • Funding provided for forester position through LVG Block Grant
  • Planted over 400 trees, conducted Arbor Day program
  • City of Easton – planted over 300 trees

Two Rivers Area Greenway Trails Implementation Study:

  • Gap analysis completed to determine 15-mile Bushkill Creek corridor route(s) from Easton to the Kittatinny Ridge
  • Martins Jacoby Watershed trail concept plan complete to create trails throughout the watershed and link to Bushkill Creek Corridor
  • Secretary DiBerardinis 3rd annual tour – $500,000 grants awarded to local partners
  • D&L received a total of $600,000 for LVG Implementation Block Grant Phase IV and V
  • Lehigh Valley Open Space Case Studies complete – report on 7 municipalities
  • 3 new EAC’s including City of Easton, Plainfield Township, City of Allentown
  • Developed 3 CLI signature projects: PPL Trail, Trexler Nature Preserve Building, and Kittatinny Ridge AT legislation implementation
  • Upper Mount Bethel Township Open Space Plan complete
  • Land conservation – 45 acres closed; 362 acres advanced in both counties
  • Appraisal complete on D&L Trail remaining outparcels along 9-mile section in Lehigh County – 185 acres advanced
  • Jordan Creek Greenway Plan complete
  • Saucon Creek Watershed Conservation Plan draft complete
  • Martins Jacoby Watershed Conservation Plan draft complete
2007

Both Lehigh and Northampton county stakeholders and representatives from the three cities now form a 30 member steering committee that meets quarterly. 

  • Design 90% complete for Jacobsburg EE Center with bid date expected in 2008.
  • Regional leadership structure for sub-landscapes in place
  • 561 acres land conservation closed; over 1,000 acres land conservation advanced
  • 4 Riparian restoration projects plantings completed; 2 projects planning began
  • Lehigh Valley Planning Commission’s Lehigh Valley Greenways Plan completed, adopted, advancing 5 early implementation projects
  • Open space plan completed in Bushkill Township and revised in Williams Township; Lehigh County open space plans under contract and mapping underway
  • PPL Corporation willing to donate PPL Trail to Bushkill Township – 50 acres valued at $50,000 – with a right-of-way easement back to PPL for electric transmission line o Bushkill Township agreed to accept trail ownership
    • Bushkill Township C2P2 grant submission for construction of Phase I – first three miles of trail from Jacobsburg to Route 512
    • PPL Trail site assessment conducted to begin trail design
  • Tatamy Rail-Trail opening – 1 mile section of 15 mile Easton to AT corridor
  • Urban Research & Development Corporation hired as consultant for Two Rivers Area Greenway Trails Implementation Study, trail committee formed and study underway
  • Urban revitalization – 120 trees planted in City of Easton through the Urban Forestry Initiative; DCNR tours completed in all three cities; successful Urban Recreation Institute in November; Secretary met with mayors of all three cities that is helping craft a DCNR “urban” strategy
  • 2 local open space bond issues passed – Plainfield Township and Upper Mount Bethel Township
  • Planning underway for Ed McMahon two day event – January 24 & 25, 2008
  • Secretary Tour 2007 – 3 day tour in the Lehigh Valley; productive Ecology Team meeting with the Secretary
  • Northampton County Conservation District successfully hosted 5 conservation based workshops with attendance of over 200 people
  • 5 new EAC’s established City of Bethlehem, Plainfield Township, Lynn Township, Upper Saucon Township, Washington Township (NC); quarterly regional EAC meeting established with a EAC conference planned for February 2008
  • Sustainable Community Parks training steering committee formed & planning began