Lock Haven, Nature Conservancy Protect 5,200 Acres in Conservation Effort

Lock Haven City Authority, as a partner in The Nature Conservancy’s Working Woodlands Program, agrees to forever protect and sustainably manage its forest and freshwater resources.

Located at the confluence of the West Branch of the Susquehanna River and Bald Eagle Creek, the City of Lock Haven was founded in 1833 and prospered from the rich forests and other natural resources in the area. Today, cool and clear streams, expansive forests, abundant wildlife, and outdoor recreation opportunities still surround the City. By joining The Nature Conservancy’s Working Woodlands Program, The Lock Haven City Authority will ensure that these healthy forests and waters endure for future generations.

Acting on the recommendation of Lock Haven City Council, the Lock Haven City Authority agreed to join the Working Woodlands Program, which provides forest landowners with access to forest certification and revenue from carbon markets in exchange for a commitment to practice sustainable forestry. The agreement, approved by The Lock Haven City Authority, will protect 5,200 acres of forest in the watershed that provides drinking water to Lock Haven and surrounding municipalities.

The Authority’s lands, located in Pennsylvania’s ridge and valley landscape in the Central Appalachian Mountains, contain numerous native brook trout streams, valley and ridgetop forests, and a stand of old growth hemlock and mixed hardwood forest. At 5,200 acres, the agreement conserves a large swath of contiguous forest.

Building on The Nature Conservancy’s experience with land conservation and forest certification, Working Woodlands uses an innovative combination of working forest conservation easements, Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) forest management certification, and forest carbon payments to make conservation more attractive and relevant for landowners. To help develop and market the carbon credits, the Conservancy works with Blue Source, North America’s largest and most experienced developer of carbon offset projects.

The program is designed to eliminate landowners’ up-front costs associated with forest certification and help landowners benefit from the market demand for FSC-certified forest products and carbon offsets. Companies around the world purchase these carbon credits to offset their greenhouse gas emissions.

The Conservancy will obtain FSC certification for the Lock Haven City Authority property and Blue Source will provide financing for carbon credit development.

“Our primary mission is to supply the highest quality drinking water to the customers of the Lock Haven and Suburban Water Systems. Preserving the pristine quality of our watershed properties supports this mission. Also, the Working Woodlands Program enhances our ability to sustainably manage our forests and infrastructure, while offering a new revenue source,” said June Houser, Board Chair of the Lock Haven City Authority.

“Conserving this forestland is integral to enhancing the area’s water quality, protecting wildlife habitat, maintaining and enhancing local recreation opportunities, and improving migratory corridors for animals like black bear, bobcat, and fisher,” said Josh Parrish, Director of Land Conservation for the Conservancy’s Pennsylvania Chapter. “Working Woodlands provides a sustainable blueprint for uses of the land such as forestry and outdoor recreation, while ensuring that these forests will remain intact and healthy for future generations to enjoy,” Parrish added.

“Lock Haven City Authority’s participation in the Working Woodlands program will result in improved environmental stewardship of this property and will serve as yet another example of the Nature Conservancy and Blue Source providing the expertise and financing to deliver FSC certification and carbon revenues to interested landowners,” Blue Source President, Roger Williams said. “Carbon market pricing is on the rise and we are thrilled to develop and sell the credits from this project on behalf of Lock Haven City Authority and support its commitment to the environment.”

“There are many forest carbon offsets in existence, but the Working Woodlands model is very credible because it is tied to FSC certification,” said Luke Dillinger, wood procurement forester at Domtar’s Johnsonburg paper mill, an FSC-certified facility and a major market participant for Pennsylvania forest products. “The program offers a unique, market-based mechanism to allow forest landowners to manage for the long-term health of the forest while maximizing the sustainable revenue stream off of their properties,” he said.

“Working forests are a keystone of The Nature Conservancy’s conservation efforts, here in Pennsylvania and around the world,” said Bill Kunze, Executive Director of The Nature Conservancy’s Pennsylvania Chapter. “Harnessing the power of markets in service to the long-term ecological and economic health of our forests can yield great benefits for both people and nature.”

This press release was produced by The Nature Conservancy.