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The Price property





Editor's note: The Price property in Barrett Township is private and not open for hiking. This article features its natural wonders as well as the importance of its conservation easement.

Taking the long view

By Carol Hillestad


Last summer, a few friends and I piled into Dale Price’s “mule” for a tour around his place at the top of Dutch Hill Road in Barrett Township. After bumping through rich green groves of lush rhododendrons, he brought us out on a sunny slope, with a skirting of evergreens below and a long, golden view toward Spruce Mountain.

It’s one of the breathtaking sights that define the Poconos. And Dale has taken the long view in making sure it will look like this for generations to come – while also honoring his parents.

“It was my mother and father’s idea to keep this place wild forever,” said Dale, who, like his father, was born here. “Back then, I wasn’t aware of the mechanics of how you could do such a thing, and I’m sorry to think that in 1972, when Dad died, he maybe didn’t feel it would be possible to keep it wild.”

Dale has lived on, worked on, got his living from, and loved this land his whole life. The Wm. W. Price Nursery is thick with native rhodies – ideal bear habitat – and cultivated evergreen trees, bounded on one side by Route 447 and on the other by Dutch Hill Road.

Dale’s mother also expressed strong feelings about “keeping it wild.” And before Velma Sommers Price died at age 106, Dale had conferred with his old friend, Edie Stevens, about what to do.

“Edie had protected her farm in Paradise Township, and back in about 1995, she nudged me toward a land conservation outfit, Wildlands Conservancy,” he said. “I wanted this place to stay the way it’s always been. So the people at Wildlands worked out a conservation easement, which means the land is protected, but still mine. Believe me, I still pay taxes on it! But the land trust will make sure that after I’m gone, the land will stay just the way I want it. Which is just the way it is now. I’ll always thank Edie for that.”

No public money was used in creating this conservation easement, and every conservation easement is unique. There are “a million different ways you can word this,” Dale says. The land trust people “take the landowner’s feelings and what they want to do and pattern the easement after your feelings and desires.”

For instance, Dale’s particular easement includes an “envelope” around the working part of the nursery, allowing for future buildings, greenhouse, or other needs of a grow-ing business.

The easement is a good deal for the public, too, because protecting land protects drink-ing water. Laurel Run flows through the nursery, and its waters join the Middle Branch and Buck Hill Creek on their way to Brodhead Creek. The Brodhead is a source of clean water for tens of thousands of people in Stroudsburg and parts of Stroud, Smithfield, Hamilton, Pocono, and Tobyhanna townships — and all those who depend on a clean Delaware River, from Delaware Water Gap to Philadelphia.

So instead of chemicals, silt and stormwater from acres of roofs, lawns, and roads dumping into the water supply, falling rainwater and snow percolate into the earth naturally, feeding the creek and keeping it pure.

In about 2000, Dale’s parents’ dream was fulfilled. These 200 acres will never be clear-cut, subdivided, or turned into a McMansion farm, thanks to the conservation easement Dale arranged. “My dad always said that he wanted things to be so that his children and grandchildren could go and sit up against a tree and hunt a squirrel or just sit up against a tree and do nothing, without someone breathing down their neck.”

If you’d like to see this beautiful place, the nursery is open for tree shopping on the four weekends preceding Christmas. While trees are mainly balled and wrapped for landscapers and buyers during the growing season, “excess inventory” is advertised for sale as cut trees right now. You can choose from hundreds of trees of many species, cut fresh for you while you watch.

If you’d like to find out how to join hundreds of Pocono landowners who have protected their woods, fields, farms and hilltops, you can read about conservation easements at the Pennsylvania Land Trust Association, www.conserveland.org. Or contact Pocono Heritage Land Trust at 570-424-1514, www.phlt.org; or Wildlands Conservancy at 610-965-4397, www.wildlandspa.org.

Better yet, Dale Price invites you to give him a call at 570-595-2729. You’ll be inspired.

Carol Hillestad writes for Brodhead Watershed Association’s Get Outdoors Poconos, a grant-funded program.

Photos by Jim Hillestad


The pond at the Price property in summer. The same view in winter.



Dale Price and his "mule" survey the land his family has preserved for generations.



Comments from other visitors:


From Anonymous:
I've been to this location a couple of times, for winter picnicking. It was a awe-inspiring place, magical of sorts.
I suppose many of the pieces that preservation lends is magical. It brings a history and a sense of appreciation that those who've been before you had had for it. Like a piece of handmade furniture that's been kept in its original state. Nothing quite compares to them.

That's a similar feeling I get when on a trail or woods that are as pristine as they were 100+ years ago. Nature has a way of leaving so many impressions upon us and our psyche, emotions, character, and those around us.

Thanks for sharing a great article about the locals doing us proud. This is "real news"!!!


From Sally Duffy: GREAT ARTICLE



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