The purpose of the Lackawanna County Agricultural Land Preservation Program is to protect and promote crop and livestock production on viable agricultural lands in Lackawanna County by acquiring Agricultural Conservation Easements on these lands.
ABOUT THE PROGRAM
Since it’s inception in 1994, the Lackawanna County Agricultural Land Preservation Program has purchased the development rights for over 80 parcels of farmland and over 6,500 acres, ensuring that these lands will remain undeveloped and continue to be used for agriculture. According to the American Farmland Trust, the United States is losing two acres of farmland every minute to new development with Lackawanna County being no exception.
Farmland preservation has many benefits, including providing fresh food at a reasonable cost, keeping property taxes down, protecting local scenery, and supporting farm and farm-related jobs. Preserved farm properties are managed by private landowners using soil and water conservation practices that protect soil from erosion and also protect local surface waters from contamination. Farm and forest lands are important for the recharge of ground water in our communities. Farms also provide critical habitat for local wildlife populations.
The minimum criteria for application into the Farmland Preservation Program includes being in an Agricultural Security Area , containing at least 50% high quality soils available for agriculture, and being at least 50 acres in size (or at least 10 acres if contiguous to a property which has a perpetual conservation easement). Funding for purchase of Agricultural Conservation Easements come from the State and County.
Applications are accepted for the Lackawanna County program until March 1st of each year. The farms are then evaluated and ranked based on various site factors and the viability of the farming operation. After acceptance into the program, an appraisal and survey are completed and an offer is made to the landowner for easement purchase.
Currently in Lackawanna County, eligible Agricultural Security Areas (ASA’s) exist in Benton, Covington, Greenfield, Jefferson, Madison, Newton, North Abington, Ransom, Scott and Springbrook townships.