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Pa. county sets sights on a greener tomorrow

June 03, 2005|by DON AINES

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, PA. - Creating links between recreational and natural areas in Franklin County is the goal of a greenway plan, for which the county recently received a grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

The goal of the state's greenways program is to create a series of "hubs," such as national, state and local parks, game lands and recreational sites linked by hiking and bicycling trails, natural corridors, waterways and other "spokes," according to the DCNR Web site.

"This is the next step in a series of plans to protect our critical natural areas, develop more greenways and trails and continue to improve the quality of life for our residents," G. Warren Elliott, chairman of the Franklin County Board of Commissioners, said in announcing approval of the $37,500 planning grant last week.

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Much of the information identifying recreational areas and greenways is compiled in the county's 2002 comprehensive recreation plan and its 2004 natural areas inventory, according to Dan Wolf, a community planner with the county Planning Department.

County recreational and natural areas include the Appalachian Trail, Tuscarora Trail, Michaux State Forest, Buchanan State Forest, Tuscarora State Forest, the Conococheague Creek, Antietam Creek, Falling Spring and other waterways, and state and municipal parks, Wolf said.

Included in the natural areas inventory of the county are three small state parks - Caledonia, Buchanan's Birthplace and Mont Alto - along with 41,215 acres of state forest lands, 15,178 acres of state game lands and approximately 150 miles of trails, said Senior Planner Sherri Clayton.

"The purpose of the greenway plan is to link all the greenways in the state and the first step is a county plan," Wolf said. "Part of the study is to find more" greenways and preserve them, he said.

"Greenways vary greatly in scale from narrow ribbons of green that run through urban, suburban and rural areas to wider corridors that incorporate diverse natural, cultural and scenic features," according to the DCNR Web site. A greenway can run along a ridge line, a railway, streams or shorelines and on public or private lands, according to the Web site.

Wolf said the county greenway plan can be used by municipalities and organizations seeking government grants for their own recreational and greenway projects.

Planning Director Phil Tarquino said the push for greenways is nationwide and the state envisions one stretching from Pittsburgh, through Maryland to Washington, D.C. Wolf said the state plans to have greenways along the Susquehanna River and other major waterways, as well.

State goals include having a greenway demonstration project under way in all 67 counties by 2007 and establishing local greenways in 1,000 communities by 2010, according to DCNR. By 2020, the goal is to have a greenway in every community and begin connecting them.

Wolf said the county will hold a series of public meetings for the plan, but no schedule has been set. The study will begin this year and take about six months to complete, he said.

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