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Pottstown Mercury: Big Woods’ preservation hinges on federal budget

Story By Evan Brandt

Birdsboro, Jun 12 -  

BIRDSBORO -- The effort to preserve the woods that surround, filter and protect Birdsboro’s water supply will get the last bit of money it needs if the U.S. Senate and President Bush agree to the Interior Department budget approved by the House of Representatives.

Last month, the office of U.S. Rep. James Gerlach, R-6th Dist., announced that the House approved the appropriations bill for the Interior Department and that it includes $300,000 for the effort in Birdsboro.

In April, state and local officials gathered on the shores of the Birdsboro Reservoir to announce state funding to the tune of $750,000 toward that same effort. The money was provided to the Natural Lands Trust, which will use the money to buy the development rights for 1,800 acres there, a procedure known as a "conservation easement."
That purchase was supported by $500,000 in funds from the federal Forest Legacy program, as well as a private grant from the William Penn Foundation.

If the $300,000 included in the House 2007 budget survives the remainder of the federal budget process, it would provide funding through the Forest Legacy program for the last easement needed, said Jim Thorne, senior director of science for the Natural Lands Trust and the organization’s coordinator for the Hopewell Big Woods.

"If we’re able to secure that money, it would complete the funding necessary for protecting that property," said Thorne.

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©The Mercury 2006

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