The Endless Mountains Heritage Region (EMHR), which serves Bradford, Sullivan, Susquehanna and Wyoming counties, will award $65,165 in Partnership Mini-Grant funding to 11 different entities representing all four counties. The initiatives vary greatly from restoration and enhancements of recreational areas and historic venues to programs and projects focused on education and the arts.
“The EMHR received over $111,000 in funding requests from roughly 20 organizations but, with just over $65,000 available, it made it a very competitive process,” said EMHR executive director Cain Chamberlin, who praised the many hours and due diligence of Partnership Grants Review Committee members who individually scored the applications and selected the projects that best represented the mission and goals of the Heritage Region. “I personally was ecstatic to see multiple applications come from Sullivan County, as we haven’t received many of those in recent years.”
The biggest winner in Sullivan County was the Eagles Mere Conservancy, which will receive $10,000 to convert a three-acre plot of beech and striped maple trees into a mixed area of firs and hardwood trees to improve habitat and enhance diversity on the 380-acre property. A contractor will be hired to remove the beech and maple trees to allow sunlight to reach the forest floor where more than 300 hardwood and pine trees will be planted by volunteers.
In Bradford County, Wyalusing Borough was awarded $10,000 to increase the safety of the relatively new walking path along Wyalusing Creek and install park signage. In addition to bringing attention to a disc golf course in Creekside Park, signage will be installed at the confluence of the creek and the Susquehanna River to notify kayakers of the park and path so they can take a break from their river journeys and explore Wyalusing.
Keystone College in Wyoming County has also been working on a network of trails and natural features called the College Woodland Campus. The EMHR will put up $6,250 toward a $13,750 program that will include a series of interactive presentations to showcase both the natural and historic features of the trails. The events will be scheduled from July 2022 to August 2023.
Supporters and founders of Ira Reynolds Riverfront Park in Susquehanna Depot will finally realize a milestone goal of their efforts there with the removal the Oakland Dam that has long impeded the natural flow of the Susquehanna River after its receipt of a PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) grant earlier this year. Oversight for the project will be provided by American Rivers, a national organization that strives to maintain the health of waterways across the nation. American Rivers will use an additional $6,900 EMHR grant to add a strong educational component to the project, including a dam removal puppet show for local elementary school students, the installation of interpretive signage in the park, and a large public event in September to be addressed by Cindy Dunn, secretary of the DCNR, which provides the EMHR with grant funding.
Other organizations to receive funding will include the North Branch Land Trust to improve trail access at the Howland Preserve on Vosburg Neck in Wyoming County; the Loyalsock Foundation to install walking paths, benches and signage to bring attention to the future construction of The Summit Center for Wellness in Laporte Township, Sullivan County; Friends of Salt Springs State Park to expand and resurface trailhead parking areas to enhance the park experience for visitors to Susquehanna County; the Bradford County Regional Arts Council for continuance of the Young Explorers Program and the creation and distribution of Art Again Kits that encourage youths to integrate the natural world with art; the Wyoming County Cultural Center to update the Discover Tunkhannock sign on its greenspace in the center of town; the Sullivan County Council on the Arts to create a mural celebrating the history of the county that will adorn the walls of the lobby of the Mattern Building in Mildred; and the Forest City Area Historical Society will use mini-grant funds for the restoration of stained-glass windows in the historic church that it calls home.
“Each and every one of these awarded projects — whether it be trail enhancements, events, signage, educational programming or one of the many other things we do here at the EMHR — will better the communities in which they take place and the Heritage Region as a whole,” said Chamberlin. “While these are called ‘mini-grants,’ the projects they help fund truly make an astounding impact on our area, and we really look forward to seeing them progress over the next year or so as they work toward completion. We love creating these partnerships and working together to make our region a better place to live, work, and visit.”