Against an appropriate backdrop of tumbling waterfalls, dramatic rock outcroppings and flaming fall foliage, the Pennsylvania Environmental Council (PEC) awarded 17 grants totaling $100,000 to representatives of communities and organizations assembled at Ledges Hotel in Hawley on October 3.
All are working to protect and promote cultural and natural assets in the six counties that make up the Pocono Forest and Waters Conservation Landscape (PFW CLI) in Northeast Pennsylvania, including Pike and Wayne counties.
The funded projects work to connect the region’s public lands—parks, forests, waterways, game lands and conserved properties—to their local communities through partnerships that promote sound land-use planning, natural resource conservation and heritage, cultural and nature-based recreation.
Funds are provided by the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources’ (DCNR) Bureau of Recreation and Conservation Community Conservation Partnerships Program administered through PEC’s Conservation Assistance Program. Grant awards range from $1,500 to $16,800.
“These small grants help communities enhance their sense of place and expand their regional economies by capitalizing on their close-to-home natural resources,” according to Carol Hussa, PFW CLI coordinator. “Mini-grant funds encourage local economic development by funding projects that promote trail usage, outdoor recreation and heritage tourism to support educational and conservation efforts, hold outdoor festivals, develop promotional guides for sportsmen and green lodging and much more.”
Locally, the Delaware Highlands Conservancy (DHC) has been awarded a $10,000 grant to expand its Green Lodging Partnership Program (GLPP) through which lodging facilities committed to sustainable practices partner with the DHC to work toward conservation of the Upper Delaware River region’s healthy lands and clean waters.
GLPP participants understand that guests visit the Upper Delaware River region for its natural beauty and abundant outdoor recreational activities. Support for the DHC’s mission to protect the lands and waters of the region helps to assure that the natural assets, which attract tourists and tourism dollars to the region, will be here now and for the future.
With every reservation, guests at participating hotels contribute directly to the DHC.
Jeanne Genzlinger, managing partner for the Settlers Inn in Hawley, expressed her enthusiasm. “We are excited about connecting our guests directly with protecting all the natural resources they come here to enjoy,” she said. “Our guests appreciate the opportunity to contribute to something as important as caring for what they love in this region.”
The GLPP was formed in association with the Shop Local Save Land (SLSL) initiative, which makes the connection between supporting locally sustainable businesses and the long-term protection of farm and forest lands, lakes, streams and rivers, scenic vistas and the region’s natural heritage.
“How we treat the environment matters to everyone,” said Brooke James, special events director for Woodloch Pines Resort and member of the Kiesendahl family, the resort’s founders and owners. “We strive to do everything we can to protect the beautiful lands and clean waters people visit this special region to enjoy. We’re happy to offer our guests the opportunity to partner with us and the DHC.”
Current participants include the Settlers Inn, Ledges Hotel, and Woodloch Pines Resort in Hawley; Hotel Fauchere in Milford; Ecce Bed and Breakfast in Barryville, NY; and Apple Pond Farm in Callicoon Center, NY. Additional participants are encouraged.
Other local grant recipients included the Pike County Office of Community Planning, the Wayne County Historical Society and the Western Wayne school district.
For information about the PFW CLI, contact Hussa at 570/718-6507 or visit www.pecpa.org . For information about the GLPP, write firstname.lastname@example.org  or call the DHC at 570/226-3164 or 845/583-1010.