Photo of the Stairway Ridge corridor copyright Sandy Long.

May 21, 2017

Stairway Ridge: Land Protection for Trout and People

Pike County, Pennsylvania is a unique place blessed with abundant natural resources. The Scenic Rural Character Preservation program (SRCP) emerged in 2006 as a means of maintaining the county’s high quality of life through smart planning and active conservation geared toward balanced solutions to increasing population pressures.

One of the great successes to come out of the SRCP program is protection of the 708-acre Polatnick property in Westfall Township. It is a heavily forested ridgeline parcel with pockets of wetlands and the headwaters for Mill Rift (Bushkill) Creek, designated a Class A Exceptional Value wild trout stream.

Over two miles of the Bushkill Creek and its tributaries flow through wetlands and hemlock bottoms on the property en route to the Delaware River. There are three unnamed tributary streams that begin on or near the property and feed into the Bushkill.

In 2009, Pike County’s SRCP bond fund contributed $1,304,392 to state funds allocated through PA’s Department of Conservation and Natural Resources to enable the state to purchase the land and protect it with a conservation easement. The property helps to protect wildlife habitats and water resources, while providing outdoor recreational opportunities to the public.

Its permanent protection creates a contiguous green corridor known as Stairway Ridge. A trail allows people to enjoy Pike’s beautiful woodland landscapes while hiking from Milford Beach through Grey Towers, the Milford Experimental Forest, and the County Park, ending on the Polatnick property, now within the Buckhorn tract of the Delaware State Forest.

Together with the Buckhorn Tract, State Game Lands 209 and other adjacent protected land, the Stairway Ridge property forms a 19,000-acre block of contiguous forestland.

The project is an example of SRCP funds at work—protecting Pike County’s water, flora and fauna, while expanding outdoor recreational opportunities for the public.

The initial SRCP program was limited to a period of 10 years, which time frame has now passed. To help maintain the high quality of life that we all enjoy in Pike County, we’d like to hear what you think about continuing local conservation, planning and land protection efforts.

We invite you to complete this brief survey.