Lancaster organizations receive ARPA funds to preserve farms and natural areas

LANCASTER, Pa. (WHTM) – Lancaster County commissioners voted on Wednesday to approve more than $2.8 million in American Rescue Plan Act funding for the Lancaster Farmland Trust and the Lancaster Conservancy, according to a statement from those. organizations.

The organizations will use the funds to acquire and preserve more publicly available natural land and to protect more farms, the statement said.

“The future of Lancaster County is at a turning point,” Lancaster Conservancy President Phil Wenger said in the statement. “Amazing cities, beautiful boroughs and a bustling city of Lancaster attract everyone to live here. Add to that the proximity to major road and rail networks, and it creates unchecked development pressure on what is a finite resource – our land. Now is the time to act to save our landscape and our quality of life.

The Conservancy received $1.3 million, which will help it acquire two key parcels of land adjacent to existing county trails and parks, the statement said.

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Part of the money will be used by the Conservancy to purchase 90 acres of land in Elizabeth Township, adjacent to Speedwell Forge County Park and Speedwell Forge Lake. The funds will also be used to help purchase a 155-acre nature preserve in Mount Joy Township that is crossed by the county’s Conewago Recreational Trail.

The Lancaster Farmland Trust will use its $1.52 million investment to preserve 21 farms, protecting more than 1,500 acres of farmland in Lancaster County. According to the release, conservation projects on farms will include riparian buffer plantings and the exclusion of livestock from waterways.

“We continue to see the loss of farmland across the county, a constant concern of Lancastrians, and the agricultural sector is essential in providing clean water for all to enjoy,” said the chairman and chief executive. of Lancaster Farmland Trust, Jeff Swinehart, in the release.

“The action of the Commissioners today will advance the community’s desire to keep our beloved sights intact and allow our local farming community to thrive by helping them with the resources needed to achieve our collective goals in agriculture. clean water. This funding will accelerate our efforts to preserve Lancaster County’s vital natural resources that produce our food, clean our streams and rivers, and recharge our groundwater,” Swinehart continued.

The statement reads, “The county is expected to reduce nitrogen in waterways by 11 million pounds per year, 80% of which is on our farms. Funding conservation projects on protected farms will help Lancaster achieve its goals and ensure that these investments are protected in perpetuity.

The funding also helps ensure local food security by protecting agriculture, said Swinehart, whose importance has been highlighted by the pandemic and global supply chain disruptions.

“The County Commissioners have looked to the future and made the crucial decision to invest resources in a way that will impact generations of Lancastrians,” Wenger and Swinehart jointly said in the statement.

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