Founding Date: 2/1/1994
Original Name: Back Mountain Regional Land Trust
Name Changed to North Branch Land Trust on 6/5/2000
The North Branch Land Trust traces its beginnings to 1993, when a small group of citizens in the Back Mountain area of Northeastern Pennsylvania, just west of Wilkes-Barre, became concerned by the effects of rapid growth and development on their rural communities. The founders watched farms and open spaces disappear, and wondered if the fundamental values of their rural lifestyle were in danger.
In 1995 a couple from Maryland expressed an interest in placing a conservation easement on their 43-acre family property in Luzerne County near Shickshinny. The Back Mountain group worked with the couple to accomplish their wishes and two dreams became a reality – the landowners’ and the Land Trust’s.
The Land Trust hired its first professional, Linda Thoma, in 1996. Linda stills serves the Land Trust as its Director of Operations. By 1997 the Land Trust had completed its second conservation easement, this one on 37 acres bordering Mehoopany Creek in Wyoming County.
In August 2003-with a generous gift from an anonymous source-the Land Trust was able to add its second professional position, a land protection specialist. The current Land Protection Specialist is Rick Koval, a well-known naturalist. The Land Trust has made significant advances since Rick joined the organization.
In 2004 four conservation easements, totaling over 3,400 acres, were completed and include some of the most biologically diverse and critically important natural lands in the region. The momentum behind these efforts continues as over 10,831 acres have been conserved or acquired throughout our service area in Northeastern Pennsylvania and a number of exciting land protection projects are in process that will close in the near future. In the fall of 2008 Paul Lumia joined North Branch as Executive Director bringing his expertise in environmental resource management and advocacy to the organization.
Going forward North Branch will continue to work to conserve key natural land assets in the region and conduct community outreach in an effort to educate citizens on the importance of natural areas, open space, and smart development practices. With continued support from the community and an eye on the mission of conserving the lands that sustain us, North Branch Land Trust looks to a bright future.
Phone: (570) 696-5545 | Fax: (570) 696-5546