Monroe County is one of the fastest growing counties in Pennsylvania. The county has experienced explosive growth, and the corresponding need for additional recreation and housing units often results in the loss of open space. According to census figures, the population of Monroe County rose from 40,000 in 1960 to 130,000 in 2000. That trend is expected to continue.
Situated in Middle Smithfield Township, Monroe County, the Resica Falls Scout Reservation is prime land in the eyes of developers hoping to meet the inevitable demand for more housing and supporting facilities. Most of the acreage is flat terrain. This characteristic, plus the large lake center and its proximity to a nearby highway, make the acreage a very attractive area for residential development.
In 2006, a Growing Greener grant from the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) was used to place a conservation easement on 1,000 acres. The easement will ensure that this pristine and important natural area will remain forever protected from development.
The owners are the Cradle of Liberty Boy Scout Council, the third-largest Boy Scout council in the country with 93,000 members. Its troops include scouts from urban and suburban areas and for many, the reservation represents their best opportunity to experience a large natural area.
Although the Council is large, the development pressure created myriad opportunities for the Council to divest itself of large portions of the reservation that were not being used for programming. The property has been in the possession of the Boy Scouts for more than 80 years.
Fortunately, the council was interested in forever preserving this last remaining large acreage in Monroe County.
“When the project is complete, this conservation easement will cover 4,100 acres-an area larger that 105 Pennsylvania State Parks!” said State Representative John Siptroth. “I believe the magnitude of this conservation project will resonate for years to come, setting a precedent for large, landscape-scale conservation in the Poconos and preserving expansive tracts of land for fishing, hunting and passive recreation-activities that contribute significantly to the economic prosperity of the region. Furthermore, I feel that this project captures the spirit intended by the legislature in passing Growing Greener II.”