Jul 19, 2021

Environmental Champions: The Merrill Linn Conservancy revives a popular nature area

Picture of the Merrill Linn Conservancy revives a popular nature area

A popular Union County nature area enjoyed by hundreds each year is getting long planned and much needed improvements with a little help from PPL.

Koons Trail along Buffalo Creek in Mifflinburg, Pennsylvania, originally created by Mifflinburg Middle School teacher Joe Southerton and his students in 1990, is getting new kiosks, footbridges and platforms that were all in need of repair or replacement.

The trail also was hit hard by the removal of ash trees that were destroyed by the emerald ash borer, a beetle that feeds on ash trees, and was damaged by previous flooding.

Merrill W. Linn Land & Waterways Conservancy, the Lewisburg-based nonprofit that holds a conservation easement on the trail and maintains it, requested and received a $3,500 grant from PPL to help fund the project. The upgrades will further help the conservancy draw the public to the site as part of its mission of getting families outside to learn about the environment.

The PPL Foundation contributes more than $3 million annually to nonprofit organizations supporting student success from cradle to career; advancing diversity, equity and inclusion; and promoting the development of vibrant and sustainable communities.

“We are sincerely grateful to PPL,” said Geoff Goodenow, the organization’s coordinator. “The funds from PPL will help to create much needed footbridges along the paths which meander within restored wetlands south of the covered bridge. Visitors to the area enjoy seeing wildflowers, various types of birds and hearing a seasonal chorus of amphibians.”

Each year, hundreds of people participate in programs held in the trail area and that doesn’t include the incalculable number of people who use the trail daily.

The trail is on part of a 30-acre property once owned by Mifflinburg resident and businesswoman Mary Koons, who entrusted oversight of the property to the Linn Conservancy through a conservation easement in the 1990s.

Current owners Ryan and Samantha Sabo have expanded access to the property by creating additional walkways in adjacent wetland meadows and fields. The area is private property but is open to the public from dawn to dusk for people and their pets.

The Merrill Linn Conservancy is a 501c3 nonprofit. Its mission includes preservation/conservation of the natural resources and beauty of land and waterways and to engage the public in creating awareness and instilling responsible stewardship of our resources.