Hike, raft, and preserve the Lehigh with Carbon Co. Community Foundation
The Carbon County Community Foundation is dedicated to improving the lives of all the county’s residents.
Since it started in 2015, the foundation has provided grants to more than 30 local organizations including Meals on Wheels, Family Promise, and local recreation groups.
Now, the nonprofit hopes to support the organizations who are dedicated to preserving the area's natural resources. Just like an arts fund they started last year, the new fund is on top of, not in place of the group's core mission.
With support from Dennis DeMara, the former director of Mauch Chunk Lake Park, the fund is kicking off a new fund dedicated to the Lehigh River Watershed.
“We’re not in the conservation business. But we’re here to support the organizations who are. I’m really impressed with the quiality of work the conservation organizations are doing,” said Amber Breiner, executive director of Carbon County Community Foundation.
To kick off the initiative, they’ve planned a series of events getting people to enjoy the river, some of them free, throughout June. The four local rafting and biking outfitters -- Pocono Whitewater, Lehighton Outdoor Center, Whitewater Challengers, and Whitewater Rafting Adventures, as well as the Wildlands Conservancy, have all donated their services to make the events happen.
The first event, which takes place on Tuesday at the Lehighton Outdoor center, is free, RSVP required.
The event will begin with a presentation by Dr. Abigail Pattinshall of the Wildlands Conservancy about the state of the Lehigh River, followed by a bike ride on the D&L trail with the trail’s programs manager, Brian Greene.
The second event, a family rafting trip down the Lehigh, takes place June 9.
The kickoff will continue with a hike through the Barrens at Long Pond on June 20, a Class II-III rafting trip on June 23, and a cookout at Whitewater Rafting Adventures on July 2.
The watershed includes virtually all of Carbon County, but also touches all its surrounding counties.
“The conservation community, the work they’ve done, has really laid the ground for this. I really commend them for the level of organization they’ve engaged in,” Breiner said.
Carbon County’s natural resources provide more than just natural beauty, according to the 2018 Return on Environment study by the Kittatinny Coalition.
The watershed benefits the local economy through tourism and outdoor recreation. It also provides water and air filtration which would otherwise cost millions.
The Carbon Chamber states on its website that the protection, management and use of the county’s natural resources are “essential to the long-term sustainability of nature and the local and regional economies.”
While the need to improve the quality of the Lehigh River may not be as obvious as it was a century ago, Breiner said there is still a lot of work needed to protect them and prevent further deterioration.
“We can’t afford to be anything less than visionary when it comes to preserving and enhancing our natural resources.”
The kickoff events are as follows:
Kickoff Reception and Ride, 4-6:30 p.m. Free, but RSVP required. Tuesday at Lehighton outdoor Center. Dr. Abigail Pattinshall of Wildlands Conservancy will speak about the state of the Lehigh River watershed. A scenic bike ride on the D&L will follow with Lehighton Outdoor Center donating rental bikes. Registration: https://bit.ly/30Y8rRf
River Explorers Family Rafting Trip, 11:45 a.m.-5 p.m. at Pocono Whitewater Rafting. Reservations $39.99-$49.99. Leisurely 1.5-2 hour rafting ride between Jim Thorpe and Lehighton. Picnic lunch included. Then Wildlands Conservancy will lead snorkeling and an aquatic wildlife survey. Call 1-800-WHITEWATER (1.800.944.8392) or 570.325.3654. Mention the Carbon County Community Foundation Trip.
Long Pond Barrens Nature Walk, 7-8:30 p.m. June 20 at Long Pond Preserve. Free, but space is limited. The barrens hold the highest concentration of globally rare species in Pa. Registration: email email@example.com,or call 570.643.7922 ext. 325.
Premier Whitewater Rafting, 9:40 a.m.-2:40 p.m. June 23 at Whitewater Challengers. Registration is $65, lunch is not included. Ages 9 and up. Dam release whitewater rafting on exciting class II-III rapids in Lehigh Gorge State Park. To register call 800-443-8554 and mention event code CCCF2019.
Cookout at Whitewater Rafting Adventures
4:30-7:30 p.m. July 2. $25 for kids, $50 for adults. Unlimited zipline rides (ages 10 and up), stand-up paddle board demos, live music by Sound Birds and Friends, smoothies and Picnic-style food all included. Registration: https://bit.ly/2MrTxzi