Lehigh County has received 12 acres of land along the Lehigh River for use as a public recreation area.

County Executive Don Cunningham acknowledged the donation of the land, as well as the opening of a new Lehigh River boat ramp, at a press conference Monday at the Lehigh Gap Nature Center.

Cunningham said Pfizer, Inc. agreed to donate the land along the river to the county for public recreation. The donation will be made once government and regulatory approvals are completed.

Once the site of a Slatington pigment manufacturing plant, the land has been returned to a natural state after demolition and environmental cleanup.

The property adjoins a plot of land for which Pfizer partnered with the county and the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission in the design, permitting, and construction of the county's newest boat ramp.

The boat ramp is located near the Lehigh Gap Nature Center, Appalachian Trail, and Delaware and Lehigh Rails to Trails.

"The residents of Lehigh County are very grateful to Pfizer for this generous donation of land and for its help in cleaning up the environmental issues at this site to be preserved as a recreation area," Cunningham said. "We appreciate Pfizer's actions as a good corporate citizen of the Lehigh Valley."

Cunningham said the goal is to "continue to improve access to the environment, river, and help people understand the history of this county and region."

Scott Bollinger, of the PA Fish & Boat Commission, said the project should bode well for residents of the county.

"The Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission realizes the Lehigh River needs additional access," Bollinger said. "This is a great project, and we want to see more like it in Lehigh County."

Dan Kunkle, director of the Lehigh Gap Nature Center, said the public recreation area is open for the entire Lehigh Valley to enjoy.

"This boat launch is the icing on the cake," Kunkle said. "I can't tell you how important these things are for the quality of life for the people of the Lehigh Valley."

The pigment plant ceased operation in 1990. Pfizer completed the capping and cleanup of the site in 2000, under the direction of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.