Access Limited To New State Forestland For Now
SWIFTWATER — Recent sale of the former Rock Hill Boy Scout Camp in Dingman Township adds 486 acres to the Delaware State Forest and opens it up for public recreation use and hunting. But, a DCNR spokesman cautions there is limited access for now because of existing unsafe structures to be demolished and other public health hazards. A ceremony is anticipated sometime next spring or summer to formally open the property to the public and introduce horse trails.
In an interview with Assistant District Forester Tim Balch last week, he said Dept. of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) colleagues in Harrisburg published a news release about the land acquisition but the property is “not ready for the public to go play.”
The tract is located about five miles southeast of I-84 and Lords Valley along Route 739 and Five Mile Meadow Road. Balch described it as mostly bounded by state forestland but also the Conashaugh Lakes private community and a small portion of Game Lands 180. Jessica Grohmann, assistant planning director for the county, explained Pike County worked for several years on the acquisition project and served as the applicant with county preservation funding combined with DCNR funding. DCNR acquired the property the first week in October, according to Balch.
Mike Mrozinski, director of Community Planning at Shohola, confirmed that the large tract is now removed from the tax rolls in Pike County. The site had been a functioning scout camp with buildings and open latrines in the middle of the property. While left vacant, buildings were vandalized and there are broken glass hazards. One hazardous example given by Balch is the vacant caretaker house at the entrance to the property that has a door leading to a basement but no steps. An illegal dump site has been discovered since scouts discontinued use of the property.
Grohmann commented that a concrete mess hall with a commercial kitchen was vandalized and destroyed. She mentioned other structures are in pretty rough shape. Chris Wood, Dingman Township Code Enforcement officer, said test wells were done on the site when development was proposed and they likely still need to be filled-in or closed off.
Wood said DEP is doing a mitigation project to remove lead at the rifle range. Neighboring wells in the area should not be affected, he said. There is also an approximate half-acre borrow pit quarry used in the past for onsite purposes. It appears stone from that quarry was used to fortify roads on the property.
Altogether, there are 40 structures there that have already been inventoried and DCNR is waiting on funding so the structures can be razed. Signage will be posted on the buildings to keep people out and Balch said rangers will cite anyone found in any of the structures.
Balch also mentioned someone posted new signs that read no trespassing and private property there that he believes to be a hunter wanting to take advantage of hunting opportunities before the state’s acquisition of the land was announced to the general public. Rangers are in the process of removing those signs as well as old faded ones likely put there years ago... for complete story, get this week's issue.