County Votes to Preserve Woodlands
Council approves $260,000 in spending on Upper Mount Bethel properties.
Northampton County will spend $260,000 to preserve 130 acres in Upper Mount Bethel, including 108 acres owned by the Kirkridge Retreat & Study Center.
County council voted 8-0 -- with one member absent -- Thursday night acquire the land as a conservation easement. Council made this decision after more than an hour of discussion, much of it from Upper Mount Bethel residents and local environmentalists.
"'Today I am here to speak for the trees, for the trees have no tongue,'" said Ellen Lott of the Nature Conservancy, quoting the Dr. Seuss book The Lorax.
She argued that the land -- as part of the Minsi Lake Corridor -- serves a larger purpose, that its "wetlands, swamps and watersheds clean and filter our water."
Most of the land in question is part of the non-denominatonal Kirkridge center, whose representatives told council their actions could have long-term benefits.
"Tonight we all need to think seven generations ahead," said Jean Richardson, the center's director.
Aside from Kirkridge, the remaining acreage is owned by David and Patricia Broad of Bangor, who plan to sell their land to the Nature Conservancy.
The total cost of the easements is actually greater than $260,000, which only represents the county's share of money. The conservancy has requested $326,750 from the state, and Upper Mount Bethel is kicking in $66,350.
Also Thursday, council ran into a roadblock when trying to fulfill a bequeathment by a long-time resident of Gracedale, the county nursing home.
Willis Mohr lived at Gracedale for 48 years, Councilman Thomas Dietrich said.
"He was very happy with his home, and he wanted to give back to the residents remaining there," Dietrich said.
So he left them $9,266 in life insurance money, with the wish that the county use it to buy flatscreen TVs for the solariums at Gracedale.
The problem is that Gracedale just put in flatscreens, which means council had to ask Ross Marcus, the county's Director of Human Services, to find another way Mohr's money could help residents.