Announcing the Archibald Johnston Preserve
Conservation Teamwork Results in a New Nature Preserve in Northampton County
Natural Lands Trust, a regional land conservation organization, and the Friends of Johnston, Inc., a non-profit organization formed to preserve the Johnston Estate, are pleased to announce the creation of the Archibald Johnston Preserve.
The Archibald Johnston Preserve was established last month when Natural Lands Trust purchased 18 acres of land that was once the estate of Amanda J. Leckonby, granddaughter of Archibald Johnston who served as the first mayor of the City of Bethlehem. Friends of Johnston, Inc. purchased an adjacent 3.4 acres known as Camel’s Hump Farm, and Natural Lands Trust expects to acquire an additional 26-acre parcel—currently owned by the Central Moravian Church and under agreement of sale with the conservation organization—this summer.
These lands, combined with the existing Archibald Johnston Conservation Area—owned by Northampton County—and Bethlehem Township’s Housenick Park, will offer more than 150 acres of contiguous conserved land for the community.
The Friends of Johnston, Inc. will restore and manage the land with volunteer manpower and expert guidance from Natural Lands Trust. Over the next several years, they expect to convert the farm fields to native wildflower meadows, improve the forested buffer along Monocacy Creek, establish community gardens, and develop trails to link and unite the multiple parcels that make up the new Preserve.
“The Archibald Johnston Preserve was established through determination, perseverance, and partnership,” said Molly Morrison, president of Natural Lands Trust. “The next chapter in this magnificent property is an exciting one as we support Friends of Johnston in their work to preserve 250 years of Bethlehem history. I would also like to thank Wildlands Conservancy for their agreement to partner with us as we develop the preserve into a public amenity.”
“The Friends of Johnston is extremely thankful to all those who have worked so hard to preserve this important estate,” said Vicky Bastidas, President of Friends of Johnston, Inc. “We are eagerly looking forward to working with Natural Lands Trust and the community to restore the landscape, open the preserve to the public, and develop programs that will benefit everyone.”
Key partners for this project include Northampton County—21st Century Open Space Initiative, PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources—Keystone Recreation, Park, and Conservation Fund Act, and Wildlands Conservancy.
Natural Lands Trust is the region’s largest land conservation organization and is dedicated to protecting the forests, fields, streams, and wetlands that are essential to the sustainability of life in eastern Pennsylvania and southern New Jersey. Since its founding in 1953, Natural Lands Trust has preserved more than 100,000 acres, including 42 nature preserves totaling nearly 22,000 acres. Today, millions of people enjoy the healthy habitats, clean air and water, bountiful recreational opportunities, and scenic beauty provided by the lands the organization has preserved. For more information, visit www.natlands.org.
The Friends of Johnston, Inc. is a volunteer-based nonprofit organization committed to the preservation, restoration, and sustainable reuse of the Johnston Estate to meet the needs of the community. With the purchase and preservation of the farm, the FOJ will be able to continue its mission of environmental stewardship, health and wellness, hunger relief, education, and historical restoration. For more information or to donate, visit www.friendsofjohnston.org.