Land preservation program reaches milestone


SCOTT TOWNSHIP, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) – It’s a milestone that has taken more than two decades to hit.

With agriculture being an important industry in northeastern Pennsylvania, Lackawanna County announced Friday it has now preserved a total of 5,000 acres of farmland.

When you think of farmland, you might think places like Susquehanna, Wayne and Bradford Counties but Lackawanna County has plenty of agricultural space too.

With the pressures of development in the city of Scranton and beyond, farmers say land preservation efforts in Lackawanna County are more important than ever.

Just about 20 minutes outside of Scranton you’ll find the Edgewood Farm on Snyder Road in Scott Township.

Owner Michael Hillebrand just helped the Lackawanna County Agricultural Land Preservation Program hit a milestone by protecting 5,000 acres of farmland across the county.

“If we can’t protect our farmland, we’re all in trouble!” Michael Hillebrand of Scott Township said.

State, local and county governments have been working to preserve quality farmland from development.

With business and shopping centers always looking for new places to build, the protection is important.

“We buy conservation easements on properties to keep them in agriculture forever and one day is how we say it!” program administrator Eric Johnson said.

In all, 64 farms in Lackawanna County are now protected.

Many are in Scott, Benton and Greenfield Townships.

“We’re preserving the farmland soils. We’re preserving the economy of hte area: no farms, no future!” Mary Liz Donato with the Lackawanna County Farmland Preservation Board said.

Michael Hillebrand has about 300 acres that will now be protected.

He’s doing it for his two grandchildren.

“It’s the future. It’s our grandchildren, the next generation and the next generation after that. It’s for them!” Hillebrand said.

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