County hopes map can aid tourism

May 28, 2006|by JENNIFER FITCH

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - Franklin County is developing a map of its forests, ridgelines, wetlands, wildlife habitats, hiking trails, streams and parks that the project's proponents feel can preserve the features and be used as a marketing tool for environmental tourism.

The goal is that someday, all of the natural and cultural resources in the county will be interconnected, said Vince Rozzi, a landscape architect with Pashek & Associates of Pittsburgh.

Rozzi described a series of "hubs" and "spokes" where trails connect historic sites and state and county parks to municipalities. Those municipalities are able to form more detailed plans than the one presented at the county level, he said.

"It's rather meant to work with developers," Rozzi said Thursday following his presentation to the Franklin County Association of Township Supervisors, Auditors, Assessors and Tax Collectors.


Of the 15 townships in the county, two - Washington and Antrim - are heavily in the midst of forming Conservation by Design standards. Under those guidelines, developers would be rewarded for maintaining open space by being allowed to build at a higher density elsewhere.

The county greenways plan would help those open spaces end up interconnected, Rozzi said.

The recreational corridors that then are created can yield economic gains, Rozzi said. A protected stream can generate bicycle and kayak rental businesses and ice cream stands, he said as an example.

"We inventory a lot of the county's natural resources," Rozzi said. "We also look at a lot of cultural resources."

County officials can encourage property owners with those natural resources to allow easements be placed over their land, Rozzi said. The process does not involve eminent domain or the "taking of land," and officials should ensure that perception does not form in the public, he said.

"Obviously, this can't all be done on public land," Rozzi said.

The greenways map is expected to be incorporated into the county's comprehensive plan. Similar initiatives are being carried out across the state, said Cindy Dunlap, recreation and parks adviser with the south central region offices of the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

"Our 2001 state greenways plan calls for comprehensive plans by all counties ... by 2007," Dunlap said. Thirty of the state's 67 counties have those greenways plans in the works, she said, noting the department provides grant money for planning.

"There's only four or five done so far that have been adopted as part of comprehensive plans," Rozzi said, estimating Franklin County's map should be completed by the end of the year.

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