Eighty-eight acres spread throughout two tracts of land in the Abingtons will remain largely as they are thanks to a donation to the LaPlume Township-based Countryside Conservancy.

Countryside Conservancy executive director Bill Kern said that the acquisition of the lands will allow the organization to continue efforts to make them accessible to the general public. The Forest Acres Sanctuary in Newton Township is approximately 27 acres in size, while the Davis Crossing Sanctuary in Overfield Township, near Lake Winola, totals 88 acres. The Davis Crossing Sanctuary contains former trolley beds once used by the Northern Electric Trolley.

“The Lackawanna Audubon Society was concerned about the long-term stewardship of these properties and their ability to take care of them and maintain them,” Kern said. “We had talked about a conservation easement to preserve the conservation values of it. Ultimately, they saw what we were able to do with the other properties we had acquired and they saw that we were trustworthy and accredited and they felt comfortable enough to donate the properties to us. It was a long time in the making, but it is working out very well.”

Trail work has already begun on the Forest Acres Sanctuary property. According to Kern, the properties will feature both public-accessible picnic tables and pavilions but the overall plan is to leave them in their natural state.

“Our approach in general on how to manage our lands is what we think is the best use for them, he said. “Some of our lands, like Little Rocky Glen, are more developed because people want to be there and use the pavilion for picnics. For other lands, we are more hands off. We might have trails on them but we prefer to leave the lands in their natural state.”

According to records from the Lackawanna Audubon Society, both tracts of land were used primarily as a way for members to enjoy and record the various species of wildlife in the area. More than 150 species of birds were spotted at the Davis Crossing Sanctuary since 1978.

“We want to rejuvenate their efforts with the trails, Kern said. “We have access to volunteers and we’ve had interest from the Boy Scouts and other groups who want to help with maintaining the trails.”

“Obviously, the Audubon Society had these properties is because they are interesting habitats; they are wetlands, so there is a diversity of bird species,” he continued. “We want to maintain the opportunities for birding and enjoying the wildlife as well as honor their legacy in what they have done with the properties.”

Kern also expressed hopes of eventually partnering with the Abington Heights School District to build a connecting trail from the Forest Acres Sanctuary to the Abington Heights Middle School and Newton-Ransom Elementary School grounds, which border that parcel.

The Countryside Conservancy also recently signed a construction contract with Rutledge Excavating Inc. of Tyler Hill for construction of phase I of its Trolley Trail project, which will link Clarks Summit and Dalton. The conservancy has worked on this project for the past 14 years, including finalizing various trail easements and agreements.

For more information on the Countryside Conservancy, including progress on the Trolley Trail and the Forest Acres and Davis Crossing Sanctuaries, visit

countrysideconservancy.org.