The Delaware & Lehigh (D&L) Trail was recognized as Pennsylvania’s best trail project by the Keystone Recreation, Park and Conservation Fund at the organization’s 20th anniversary celebration in Harrisburg on March 18. Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor President/Executive Director, Elissa Garofalo, accepted the honor.
“The D&L Trail is more than just a trail; it’s truly a platform for education, conservation, interpretation, economic revitalization and recreation,” Garofalo said.
“It’s a privilege to accept the Keystone Award on behalf of the D&L staff – past and present – as well as our many partners, volunteers and 1.65 million visitors and residents who love the D&L Trail”
Awards went to the most deserving project in six Keystone Fund categories: Historic Preservation, Trails, Libraries, Parks and Recreation, Conservation, and State Parks. The awards were presented by the Pennsylvania Growing Greener Coalition, Pennsylvania Land Trust Association, Pennsylvania Library Association, Pennsylvania Parks & Recreation Society, and Preservation Pennsylvania.
The Keystone Fund was established by the Pennsylvania Legislature in 1993. The agency distributes revenue from the state’s realty transfer tax, through grants, to community parks, trails, green spaces and libraries, improving the livability of Pennsylvania communities and providing irreplaceable recreational and educational opportunities. Robert Griffith, former executive director of the Pennsylvania Recreation & Park Society and one of the Keystone Fund’s early champions, noted that the Fund has invested $1.3 million in the D&L Trail over the past two decades.
“The D&L Trail interprets one of the nation’s early transportation corridors and contributes nearly $20 million to the regional economy annually,” Griffith said. “It provides convenient recreation for 1.65 million residents in five counties and connects 60 communities from Wilkes Barre to Philadelphia.”
The celebration at the State Capitol Rotunda included the release of a report by The Trust for Public Land, which included a finding that every $1 invested by the Keystone Fund in land and water conservation returns $7 in economic value of natural goods and services. The 44-page report can be accessed online at Economic Development Study on the Keystone Funds.
The Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor is a 501(c)3 non-profit corporation whose mission is to enrich communities thru actions and partnerships that conserve the resources, tell the stories and enhance the quality of life for Corridor residents.
Photo caption: D&L President/Executive Director Elissa Garofalo (right) and D&L Trail Manager Scott Everett hold the Keystone Fund award at the State Capitol Rotunda celebration on march 18.