Jan. 05, 2024

HARRISBURG- Rep. Donna Scheuren (R-Montgomery) congratulated the Girl Scouts of Eastern Pennsylvania on finalizing a deal with Natural Lands, a conservation organization, to preserve 458 acres of land in Montgomery County operated by the Girl Scouts. The property is the single largest privately owned property in Montgomery County.

The property, Camp Laughing Waters, is a habitat for wildlife that needs dense forest to flourish. It lies within the Swamp Creek Conservation Landscape, one of the most unspoiled regions in Montgomery County.

“This is great news for advancing and preserving our open space, which will create more opportunities for folks to connect with nature on walking trails or for educational lessons for kids on plants and wildlife,” Scheuren said.  “This is also an economic win, as open space attracts tourists and outdoor enthusiasts, helps to generate revenue for local businesses and communities, and delivers higher property values for homes near parks and green spaces as well.”

This preservation plan was initiated by the Girl Scouts of Eastern Pennsylvania, which approached the Natural Lands Trust and Montgomery County with the idea of protecting the site from developers.

As part of the new agreement, Montgomery County will receive two additional trails to be part of the existing Sunrise Trail and Swamp Creek Greenway to ensure public access to the land.

The total conservation easement cost came to $3.9 million, which was a combined contribution effort of $2.7 million from Montgomery County, $500,000 from DCNR (Department of Conservation and Natural Resources), $480,733 from New Hanover Township and $79,768 from Upper Frederick Township. Lastly, the remaining balance of $600,000+ came from combined contributions from the three remaining organizations of The Girl Scouts, Virginia Cretella Mars Foundation and Redekop Family Foundation at Everence.

The Girl Scouts of Eastern Pennsylvania will also be responsible for maintaining the grounds with the net investment of $3.6 million in the program’s building fund.

“I also want to thank both executives of the Girl Scouts of Eastern Pennsylvania, Lori Franzke, director of principal gifts and advocacy, for her commitment to the project, and Kim Fraites-Dow, CEO, for her tireless dedication and unwavering resolve to see it through to completion,” Scheuren said. “It took six years to bring this project to fruition. It’s quite clear Kim’s hard work has made our community a better place to live.”

In 2018, the Girls Scouts of Eastern Pennsylvania, working with Natural Lands, preserved Camp Hidden Falls, a 1,054-acre former Scout camp near Dingmans Ferry, now part of the National Park Service’s Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area.  

“This new agreement builds on the Girl Scouts’ legacy, and that benefits everyone in Montgomery County,” Scheuren said.

Representative Donna Scheuren
147th District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Media Contact: Joe Szymanski
RepScheuren.com / Facebook.com/RepScheuren

Scheuren Applauds Girl Scout’s Agreement to Preserve Camp Laughing Waters