15,000 years ago Pennsylvania was covered in glaciers. As the climate warmed and the glaciers receded, massive melting formed a boreal bog. Over time this bog became blanketed with a floating mat of vegetation, shaded by black spruce.
Long Swamp’s damp, dark woods offer a much different experience than most Pennsylvania forests. Upon entering the bog, visitors experience a plunge in temperature. The thick canopy of trees above and dense carpet of moss below make conditions similar to those of a tropical rainforest.
The Delaware Highlands Conservancy had identified Long Swamp for conservation protection because of its boreal bog and high quality cold water fisheries which combine with adjacent forest land to form an extensive wildlife corridor.
Camp Speers-Eljabar YMCA owns Long Swamp and the surrounding land, a little more than 1100 acres. It provides outdoor education and summer camp for youth of all backgrounds.
Camp staff initially grew concerned by development pressure in the region. Recognizing the need to conserve the land on behalf of the community and future generations, the YMCA agreed to sell a conservation easement to the Conservancy. The easement allows continued camp operations but prohibits development that would harm Long Swamp’s conservation values.
A grant from the Keystone Fund, matched by a Pike County grant, made the Conservancy’s purchase of the easement possible. The easement permanently protects 458 acres of non-developed, ecologically valuable land.
The protected land benefits the public by providing recreational and educational opportunities. Furthermore, the YMCA continues to use the space to teach campers about the local ecosystem and importance of protecting the environment.