Wednesday, August 27, 2008

County preserves 253 acres of farmland, opts not to participate in state gypsy moth spraying program

The Lancaster County Commissioners voted to preserve three more farms totaling 253.69 acres at their meeting, Wednesday.

The added farms, located in Strasburg and East Cocalico Townships, bring the total number of preserved acres in the county to 78,437, Director of the County's Agricultural Preserve Board, Matt Knepper, said.

In addition to local taxpayer revenue, the County is often able to acquire federal funding for farmland preservation.

In this case, the County is spending $605,719.50 to preserve the 253.69 acres.

The average price to preserve an acre of farmland in Lancaster County is $3,000, which Knepper described as "middle of the road" with regard to surrounding counties.

In other business, Wednesday, the Commissioners opted not to participate in the state "Gypsy Moth Suppression Program" for 2009.

County Director of Parks and Recreation James Hackett made the recommendation not to participate, noting that "smaller egg sacs and not as many masses" had been observed over the past few months.

He added that we had a cold, wet spring last year, which aids the fungus that naturally kills the larval sacs.

The Department of Parks and Recreation also received "significantly fewer" complaints this year about foliage destruction due to the insects, Hackett said.

Participating in the state program would have imposed a relatively small cost on the County and nearly halved the cost for private landowners.

The Commissioners did not publicly comment on the reasons for their vote, but Chairman Dennis Stuckey said afterwards he sympathizes with afflicted landowners but "We have to look at it on a county-wide basis."