Before Bill Iams began raising beef cattle and planting acres of hay on a farm in southern Washington County, five generations worked the soil and raised livestock there.
Soon, Iams hopes to ensure the 155 acres in Amwell, which the king of England granted to his ancestors before the American Revolution, remain farmland forever.
“Look around at the changes in this area over the last 50 years, especially in the Washington area. North on Route 19 was all farms,” said Iams, 57, owner of Log Cabin Fence Co., a farming supply business off Interstate 79 in Amity. “Now you’ve got malls and everything else going on but farming.”
Iams awaits approval by a state committee to sell development rights to his farm to Washington County through the county’s Farmland Preservation Program, part of a statewide initiative to make certain that fertile land is used for agriculture.
Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The North Branch Land Trust is about to preserve a 3,000-acre parcel of some of the finest forest land in Pennsylvania.
And, eventually, the goal is to protect an entire mountain ridge and create a protected forest that will run from Mocanaqua north to Crystal Lake and a connection to existing state forest lands.
It will be the North Branch Land Trust’s most significant move in its 21-year history of saving and preserving parcels of varying size. When acquired, the 3,000 acres will boost to 15,000 acres the total land mass preserved via the trust.
One sidelight to the success of the land trust is its support of the trails system being developed in the Delaware and National Heritage Corridor. The land trust is playing a role in extending a trail from Mountain Top to Oliver Mills in Laurel Run Borough and then around the mountain to Northampton Street in Wilkes-Barre Township.
The number of Amish is growing! A recent study estimates the Amish population has increased 10% in the last two years. It is believed there are 249,000 Amish in North America. In 1992 there were 124,000. Land in Lancaster County is hard to find and very expensive. This has forced many Amish to look elsewhere for farmland.
The Midwest is attracting more and more Amish. Farmland in Lancaster County can cost $15,000 an acre compared to $2,000 – $3,000 an acre in other parts of the county. That being said, two-thirds of the Amish live in Pennsylvania, Ohio and Indiana. Pennsylvania has the largest population.
Amish families tend to have 5 or more children which accounts for their swelling ranks. Half of the Amish population is under 18 years old and 85% of young adults remain in the church.
South Dakota is the latest state to get an Amish settlement.