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Each of Pennsylvania’s seven Conservation Landscapes is coordinated by an “internal lead” from PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) and a local “external lead.” Since its start in 2004, local efforts of Lehigh Valley Greenways Conservation Landscape have been spearheaded by the Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor (D&L). DCNR tapped the D&L to help connect lands and partners for conservation and recreation.
Lehigh Valley Greenways Conservation Landscape began with a focus on the Two Rivers Area encompassing the Bushkill Creek and the confluence of the Delaware and Lehigh Rivers. It grew to include all of Northampton and Lehigh Counties which are the keystone of the five-county Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor.
The D&L organization was a natural choice to help lead Lehigh Valley Greenways because the National and State Heritage Area includes the geographic area, shares all four goals (conservation, recreation, revitalization and education), and has a deep understanding of the power of partnership and collaboration to create lasting outdoor experiences that result in stronger local economies and improved natural resources, public health and connections to the region’s heritage.
“We always look to D&L to build capacity at the local level,” says Diane Kripas of the DCNR Bureau of Recreation and Conservation. “We count on their support to ensure local projects are implemented, land is protected, trails are built, and a vision of a connected system is realized.”
D&L has a full-time Director of Trails & Conservation, Claire Sadler, devoted to Lehigh Valley Greenways. She coordinates projects, organizes meetings, administers the mini-grant program, creates opportunities to inform the public about the partnership work, and serves as a convener to connect partners and municipalities with helpful resources. Leading Lehigh Valley Greenways with DCNR and moving partnership work forward directly ties to the D&L priorities for the five-county National Heritage Area: connect, preserve, revitalize and celebrate.
The D&L Trail is a central focus of the Corridor and the Lehigh Valley Greenways region. It connects parks and trails to form a network of green. In addition to leading the Lehigh Valley Greenways partnership, the Director of Trails & Conservation leads the Lehigh Valley Trail Council. A sub-committee of both Lehigh Valley Greenways and D&L Trail Alliance, Lehigh Valley Trail Council brings together landowners, trail organizations, recreation businesses, trail users, parks & recreation staff, and health networks to focus on trail building priorities, share best management practices, and coordinate trail promotion efforts. Lehigh Valley Trail Council meetings are open to the public; if interested in receiving meeting announcements, please request to be added to the Lehigh Valley Trail Council list using the Contact Us form.
The Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor is proud to serve as the local lead of Lehigh Valley Greenways for over a decade and enjoys working closely with DCNR and the growing network of partners to advance the four partnership goals understanding that we accomplish more together.
For information about D&L events and programs, visit www.delawareandlehigh.org