Lower Saucon Township Awarded Grant for Rail Trail Resurfacing

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A portion of the 10-year-old Saucon Rail Trail in Lower Saucon Township will receive a makeover thanks in part to a Lehigh Valley Greenways mini grant.

Lower Saucon Township is one of 14 local recipients of mini grants funding conservation projects, the Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor (D&L) and Pennsylvania Department of Conservation & Natural Resources (DCNR) announced earlier this month.

The township received a $5,000 grant for the project, which they are matching dollar-for-dollar.

The funds will be put towards resurfacing an 8,000-foot stretch of the Saucon Rail Trail (SRT) between the Hellertown Borough and Upper Saucon Township boundaries. The grant agreement begins on June 1, 2021 and ends on Nov. 30, 2022.

“Township staff would plan to do the work at a low-peak time, starting in the spring of 2022,” said Lower Saucon Township Manager Leslie Huhn, who added that the work “will last no longer than one month.”

Huhn said township staff may attempt to complete the project during the winter of 2021-2022 if weather permits.

The trail will be resurfaced with screenings, which are very small chipped stones, Huhn said. Currently, all of Lower Saucon Township’s stretch of the trail is surfaced with screenings.

Saucon Rail Trail

A portion of the Saucon Rail Trail will be resurfaced with fresh screenings, a material comprised of small chipped stones, which already makes up the surface of Lower Saucon’s stretch of the trail. This month’s mini grant award coincides with the ten-year anniversary of the Saucon Rail Trail’s opening. Last fall the trail was connected to the new Upper Bucks Rail Trail.

The township’s public works department plans on raking and removing the larger rocks from the stretch of trail before resurfacing.

The 14 mini grant awards were presented on May 13 at the Mickley Road Trailhead on the Ironton Rail Trail in Whitehall, which was the location of a past mini grant project.

“The location was selected because Whitehall Township was a 2019 Lehigh Valley mini grant recipient for the Jordan Creek Greenway Beautification Project at Mickley Road Trailhead, which features an ADA ramp, recently planted native trees and shrubs and a bike repair station, and successfully completed the mini grant project this month,” the D&L announced in a press release earlier this month.

Cathy Gorman, Lower Saucon Township’s Director of Finance, was present at the ceremony to receive the award presented by Rob Neitz, co-coordinator of Lehigh Valley Greenways, on behalf of the township.

Michael Harakal, Mayor of Whitehall Township, joined Neitz as a speaker at the event.

Saucon Rail Trail grant awarded

Cathy Gorman, Lower Saucon Township’s Director of Finance, was presented with the township’s mini grant for rail trail resurfacing by Rob Neitz, co-coordinator of Lehigh Valley Greenways at the May 13 award presentation.

Lehigh Valley Greenways is a program administered by the D&L and funded by the DCNR’s Bureau of Recreation and Conservation, Environmental Stewardship Fund.

All awarded projects support goals such as land conservation and restoration, outdoor recreation and trail connections, community revitalization and environmental education and outreach.

Other notable 2021 mini grant recipients include:

  • Lehigh Carbon Community College for $10,000 for instituting the first steps of creating an arboretum; specifically for purchasing, planting and labeling 24 trees on the college’s main campus in Schnecksville.
  • Monocacy Creek Watershed Association for $5,400 for riparian buffer work and to educate and engage the public at Gertrude Fox Conservation Area and Monocacy Way in Bethlehem and Hanover Township, Northampton County.
  • Valley Mountain Bikers for $5,900 for purchasing and installing 200 directional trail signs at five Lehigh Valley Trail Systems.
  • Watershed Coalition of the Lehigh Valley for $3,200 for the Little Lehigh Watershed stewards to create a custom watershed map, forested riparian buffer and live-stake nursery at the Little Lehigh Creek Flood Plain near Allentown.

In the first ten years of Lehigh Valley Greenways’ mini grant program, 1,200 acres of land have been conserved, 2,000 trees have been planted, 13 miles of D&L trail in Lehigh County have been built and 10 miles of trail in the Bushkill Corridor have opened.

Visit Lehigh Valley Greenways’ website for more information about their mini grants and other programming.

The mini grant resurfacing project is not to be confused with another SRT resurfacing project currently taking place in Upper Saucon Township.

According to a post on the Saucon Rail Trail’s Facebook page, the stretch of the trail from the Lower Saucon Township line to the Upper Saucon Community Park will remain closed for resurfacing through Friday, May 28.

Kathleen Ward and Kelly Federico of D&L were featured on a recent episode of No Rain Date in which they discussed their organization’s many conservation efforts, including Lehigh Valley Greenways.

Fourteen recipients of Lehigh Valley Greenways mini grants were presented with their awards at a May 13 event hosted by the D&L and DCNR. The event was held at the Mickley Road Trailhead in Whitehall; the location of a past mini grant project.

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