Lower Saucon Township's Environmental Advisory Council
Land ~ Preservation of Open Space & Natural Resources
Land ~ Preservation of Open Space & Natural Resources
The November 2016 election  included a referendum question on the ballot asking to continue the 1/4% EIT that is dedicated to our township's open space fund. Residents of the township voted to approve this. This is the third time the open space referendum has passed which shows that township residents value the rural characteristics of our area and want to see our natural resources preserved.

Over 700 acres have been permanently preserved so far allowing us to help maintain the rural characteristics of the township that we enjoy living in.

In addition to enabling the preservation efforts to continue, the referendum allows for newly colleced open space funds to be used to enhance and maintain existing preserved land and to eliminate the debt incurred when the land for Polk Valley Park was purchased. This will save residents approximately $200,000 in interest.
A great deal of time & planning goes into the Conservation of our Natural Resources

As the population of Lower Saucon Township grows, preservation of open space will become a more important priority. However, open space preservation can only be successful if it is understood and embraced by the community as a whole. The Township already contains numerous open spaces, and the vast areas of agricultural lands and
natural resources provide ample opportunity for further open space preservation.

Natural Resources Inventory

Before the township even began its open space planning and land conservation efforts, a Natural Resources Inventory (NRI) was completed in April, 2000. This was prepared under the expertise of Dr. Ann Rhoads and Dr. Timothy Block from the Morris Aboretum along with the assitance of Reichard's Herpetological Services, surveying reptiles and amphibians and and Robert Criswell who survey fishes.

Among otherthings, the NRI gave us information on the quantity and quality of the natural resources including:

  • Species of special concern
  • Large forested areas
  • Riparian corridors
  • Water sources
  • Limestone wetlands
  • Vernal ponds with adjacent forested habitat

Steep slopes need special protection
Open Space Plan

There are many documents that guide the planning and development of the township. Many of them include some aspect of open space, but none that specifically had the goal of preserving open space. Therefore in 2007, an Open Space Action Plan was created. Goals, methods and procedures have now been suggested in order to help the Township make informed decisions regarding future open space preservation.

The goals of the plan are:

1. Preserving, protecting or conserving open space, natural areas, historically important areas, agricultural lands and other culturally important areas;
2. Providing passive and active recreation areas where they are needed;
3. Restoring or rehabilitating brownfields and other underused properties to their highest potential in the best interest of the community;
4. Protecting and rehabilitating properties which directly affect groundwater or other resources which may have a direct effect on the health, safety and welfare of the community;
5. Protecting lands which are in previously identified environmentally sensitive areas such as the Floodplain or Carbonate Geology Overlay Districts;
6. Creating links to and from neighboring communities such as Hellertown Borough, the City of Bethlehem, Upper Saucon
Township and others;
7. Creating links to and from natural areas and cultural or recreational sites;
8. Creating links which connect portions of the Township across Route 78;
9. Supporting land use and planning goals for the Township and the region as described in the Lehigh Valley Comprehensive Plan;
10. Protecting the overall character and aesthetic qualities of the Township.

Spotted Salamander (Left) and  the Box Turtle (below) are some of the local critters that need their habitat preserved.

Woodland Hills

The Township has opened the Woodland Hills Preserve property to the public. The 148-acre former golf course property was acquired by the Township in 2014 with the assistance of state, county and Township open space funding.

Access to the site is off of Countryside Lane where a parking lot with a portable toilet, trash receptacle and trail signage are available. Two grass trails have been mowed through the preserve allowing visitors to hike, bird watch, and fish in the several ponds on the property. The Preserve is open from dawn to dusk.

Permitted Activities: Hiking on marked trails, Birdwatching, Fishing in ponds, Cross Country Skiing, Dogs Permitted on Leash
Prohibited Activities: No motorized vehicles, no hunting, no Horseback Riding.

A view at the Woodland Hills Preserve
What to do with Fallen Leaves?

(Written by David Mizejewski on National Wildlife Federation's blog

You shouldn’t feel obligated to rake up every last leaf in your yard this fall.  Leave leaves on the ground — they have a lot of benefit to wildlife and your garden.  Below are some tips on how to minimize the time you spend raking and maximize the benefit to wildlife and the greater environment that fallen leaves offer.

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Just let leaves stay where they fall. A leaf layer several inches deep is a natural thing in any area where trees naturally grow. The leaf layer is its own mini ecosystem!  Many wildlife species live in or rely on the leaf layer to find food and other habitat, including salamanders, chipmunks, box turtles, toads, shrews, earthworms, many insects species.

Many butterfly and moth species overwinter as pupae in leaf litter. If you rake up and throw away all of your leaves this fall, you’ll be getting rid of these beneficial and often beautiful insects too. Remember, butterfly and moth caterpillars are a critically important food source for birds in the spring when they are feeding their babies. If you remove of all the pupae with your leaves in the fall, there will be fewer of these insects in and around your yard in in spring.

From a gardening perspective, fallen leaves offer a double benefit. Leaves form a natural mulch that helps suppress weeds and at the same time fertilize the soil as they break down. Why spend money on mulch and fertilizer when you can make your own?
If you must rake up your leaves, don’t throw them in the trash.  Compost them or drop them off at a municipal recycling center so they can be turned into compost that you and other members of your community can use in the spring. Some communities even offer curb side pick up of leaves specifically for municipal composting operations. 

Avoid leaf blowers. They are loud and create noise pollution and rely on fossil fuels which pollute our air and contribute to global climate change. Use a rake instead. You’ll be able to hear the chirping of birds and other natural sounds while you’re working, plus you’ll get some good exercise!

If you just want a tidy look in your yard, or need to maintain one to comply with Home Owners Association rules, you can rake leaves off the lawn but still use them as mulch in your planting beds.  Put them in a big trash can and then shred them with a weed whacker to break them down into a finer textured mulch.