Land Is Worth More than Development Dollars

Hunting Club Members

natural habitathikers

The Hillview Rod and Gun Club is located on a steep ridge overlooking the magnificent Delaware River and historic Roebling Bridge in Lackawaxen Township. It encompasses approximately 300 acres of rock ledges, lush woodlands, and wetlands.

It’s populated by a diverse range of native PA wildlife, including timber rattlesnakes and many small bird species. Recognizing the importance of this unique and beautiful piece of property, Hillview members protected their land with a conservation easement. “It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see how fast land is being developed in Pike County,” states club member Jeff Sidle. “Unimproved land is more and more special, and it’s important that we conserve this land for the future.”

Club member Bob Engvaldsen agrees: “It’s a great thing that we preserved this land for future generations. It’s a real nice piece of property with all kinds of animals and woods. It’s very special.”

Members of the Club first approached the Conservancy in 2005 with a strong desire to conserve their property. The Conservancy explored various options for protecting the property and for finding funds to partially compensate the Club for the large value in development dollars they would be giving up by placing a conservation easement on the land.

The timing was perfect. The Landowner Incentive Program (LIP) federal grant program administered by the PA Game Commission that provides financial assistance to private landowners for protections of habitats that benefit species at risk, had funds available. Based on the number of rare endangered species inhabiting the Club’s acreage and the Conservancy’s proven ability, LIP grant funds were awarded for the project.

The funds awarded for the easement and accepted by the club do not nearly match the amount of money a developer might offer for this splendid piece of property. But Club president Bill Bryfogle has no regrets about giving up the development dollars. “The conservation easement turned out to be a great thing because it did bring some money into the Club,” states Bryfogle, “but this Club in not in the business of making money. I want my six-year-old son to be able to hunt on this land. There is much more value in protecting the beauty and health of this land than in development dollars.”

The Hillview Rod and Gun Club’s decision to protect their property has multiple benefits for the community. In addition to the protection of the rare and endangered species populating the Club, the property is adjacent to State Game Lands and so protecting it provides a larger contiguous healthy green space corridor for bird and wildlife habitat and migrations. Protection of the Club’s land also preserves scenic views along the Delaware and Lackawaxen Rivers and conserves the natural beauty that the residents of and visitors to the Upper Delaware River Corridor cherish and enjoy.

Vidal Martinez, Superintendent of the Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River National Park at the time, stated that protecting Hillview “makes a great contribution to preserving the scenic viewshed of the Upper Delaware and serves as an example for other hunting clubs and large property owners to consider an easement as a tool to protect and preserve their lands for wildlife, the environment, and the public good.”

The Hillview Rod and Gun Club is one of over sixty hunt clubs that account for approximately 49,000 acres of open space in Pike County. The Conservancy’s Executive Director Sue Currier explains that “The owners of these clubs have been great stewards of the environment here in the Upper Delaware River region. Many of these clubs have been in existence for generations. But whether they’re generational or new to the area, most hunting and fishing club members know the value of the lands to themselves, to their communities, and to future generations.”

Hillview was the first hunt club that the Conservancy protected with an easement. The lands of the Hillview Rod and Gun Club are an ecological and scenic gem that will benefit club members and the community far into the future. We look forward to working with more hunting and fishing club owners who choose to protect their lands forever.