April 30, 2018

NPS acquires former Girl Scout camp

BUSHKILL - Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area just got a little bigger with the acquisition of   the former Camp Hidden Falls property in Dingman Township, PA.   “We are very grateful to all of the partners who worked so diligently together to find funding and purchase this important property so that it can be preserved for future generations to enjoy,” said Deputy Superintendent Keith Farrar.  “This acquisition is a wonderful example of how collaborative conservation efforts can benefit both the environment and the public.”   

Camp Hidden Falls is a 1,054-acre property that was previously owned and operated as a camp by the Girl Scouts of Eastern Pennsylvania (GSEP) until they closed their doors in 2012.  Seeking a way to preserve the land for the future, GSEP reached out to several conservation organizations including The Delaware Highlands Conservancy (DHC) and the Natural Lands Trust (NLT).  After years of planning and fundraising by several organizations, the property was purchased in May 2017 by The Conservation Fund (TCF) for $4.5 million and was transferred to the National Park Service on April 23, 2018.  All camp buildings and the dam on Sunset Lake were removed prior to purchase and what remains is a large swath of upland forest with 15 acres of wetlands, 8 waterfalls, and 2 miles of pristine streams. 

Most of the funding for this recent addition to the national recreation area came from the Middle Delaware Mitigation Fund (MDMF) which is administered by TCF on behalf of the NPS.  The $66 million fund was established as compensatory mitigation for the impacts of the construction upgrades to the Susquehanna to Roseland Transmission Line project.  Of that amount, $20 million has been earmarked specifically for land acquisition and stewardship projects.  TCF also secured several grants that provided additional funding for the purchase of the property.  Those grants include $300 thousand from the Doris Duke Foundation; $400 thousand from the William Penn Foundation; and $800 thousand from the PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. 

The NPS is currently developing a comprehensive Visitor Use Management Plan and through that process is assessing current and future visitor needs and developing strategies to meet those needs while also protecting the park’s natural, cultural, and scenic resources. 

“This property has great potential for resource-based recreational activities such as hiking, camping, and hunting,” said Environmental Compliance Officer Kristy Boscheinen.  “We will know more about what the future may hold once we have completed environmental and feasibility studies to determine which uses would be appropriate.” 

The park will seek public input on those studies and plans as they are being developed. 

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