||Wildlands Conservancy is a non-profit, member-supported organization that has been dedicated to land preservation, river restoration, trail development and environmental stewardship through education for the past thirty-five years.
The mission of Wildlands Conservancy is to protect and restore critical natural areas and waterways, and educate the community to create a legacy of a healthy, sustainable environment for future generations.
Wildlands Conservancy has been the principal environmental organization of the Lehigh Valley
for the last 35 years. Founded in 1973 and called the Lehigh Valley Conservancy, the organization has grown to become one of the largest and most respected conservation organizations in the state. It currently has a staff of 19 professionals.
The Lehigh River is one of the most significant geographical features in the east central part of Pennsylvania. As it always has been, the river is a culturally significant asset to the residents of the
watershed. The health of the river is closely tied to quality of the lives of the watershed’s residents. For this reason, in 1998, the Conservancy’s Board of Directors adopted a five-year strategic plan, and set the Conservancy on a new course centered on the Lehigh River watershed. In this plan, the organization’s efforts were focused primarily, but not exclusively, on the two-county Lehigh Valley and the ten-county Lehigh River watershed.
The organization immediately began a series of initiatives focused on this geographical area. From the beginning, the Conservancy had support from the William Penn Foundation, and other private donors, as well as grants from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. These initiatives formed an inter-disciplinary effort to direct all of the expertise of the organization toward issues surrounding the Lehigh River watershed and the Lehigh Valley.
To date, over 46,000 acres of precious open space have been preserved, numerous stream-restoration projects have been completed, new and innovative educational programs have been established, and several watershed-management plans have been completed as a result of this initiative. The culmination of these efforts was the comprehensive and strategic Lehigh River Watershed Conservation Management Plan completed in 2004. It can be found on-line at http://www.wildlandspa.org/Rivers/lr_cp.html
With the last strategic plan successfully implemented, it is once again time to look ahead. Since the Conservancy intends to continue its focus on this same geographical area and issues, this new strategic plan will refine that focus by setting a five-year agenda within the context of the two-county Lehigh Valley and the ten-county Lehigh River watershed.
The Lehigh River Watershed Conservation Management Plan provides the Conservancy, as well as the watershed community, with a strategic blueprint for future protection, preservation, and enhancement of the region.
In particular, Wildlands Conservancy is uniquely positioned to act as the lead entity, and to build broad-based partnerships to protect the natural resources of the Lehigh River watershed.
The Lehigh River Watershed Conservation Management Plan also affords the Conservancy the opportunity to focus its self-initiated efforts on the highest-priority projects within its expertise and its financial capabilities. At its core, this
strategic plan enumerates just such a set of priorities for the next five years. It also recognizes, however, that these priorities should not be static, and should evolve with events and opportunities. Furthermore, this plan is not intended to be comprehensive; the Conservancy should certainly continue to respond to opportunities, provide services to other organizations, and undertake revenue-earning projects consistent with its mission as it has in the past. Rather, the priorities in this strategic plan define the areas in which the Conservancy will be actively initiating projects.
The plan begins with an overview of the Conservancy’s recent accomplishments in its major areas of expertise. This is followed by a set of priorities that build on the strengths and the past experience of the organization. These priorities are stated as goals that it has set for itself. Finally, there is a discussion of the Conservancy’s wider range of activities within this context.
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Directions and Map
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