Lehigh Valley Environment

The Lehigh Valley’s natural environment is truly unique in the region with its vast amounts of preserved farmland, two major rivers, and internationally recognized mountain ranges. To each resident and visitor the Valley offers a multitude of opportunities to engage working farms and buy fresh produce; swim, fish and boat in clean rivers and streams; and walk, hike and bike along trails and greenways—including The Appalachian Trail. In order to maintain the health of the Lehigh Valley’s natural environment, and the opportunity to enjoy its bounty, steps should be taken to highlight what exists and to preserve and protect what remains undeveloped. 

Natural Resource Plan for the Lehigh Valley

The LVPC maintains a Natural Resources Plan for the Lehigh Valley as a component of the Comprehensive Plan the Lehigh Valley...2030The Natural Resources Plan is the initial building block of the Comprehensive Plan in that it identifies important natural resources throughout the Valley that are to be preserved as the first priority with the identification of lands for development as the second priority. Components of the Natural Resources Plan include flood plains, wetlands, steep slopes, water quality, river resources, natural heritage inventory areas and woodlands. Natural resource features may be present individually, such as an isolated patch of woods, but often occur together, such as a wooded, steep slope within a natural heritage inventory area. The Natural Resources Plan identifies lands as Very High, High and Medium Conservation Priority and contains goals, policies and implementation strategies to protect these important landscape features.
The natural heritage inventory is a critical component of the Natural Resources Plan. This is a scientific inventory of unique plant and animal communities and geologic features throughout the Valley compiled by the Pennsylvania Natural Heritage Program. Exceptional natural features identified in the survey are Blue Mountain – the most extensive area of natural habitat in the two counties – and the Delaware River and its adjacent forested woodlands. Both features are major corridors for the movement of wildlife in eastern Pennsylvania as well as habitat for an extensive array of resident and migratory birds and aquatic animals and plant species. A large cluster of natural features exists in Upper Mt. Bethel Township, Northampton County including the Mt. Bethel fens, Bear Swamp, Minsi Lake vernal pools, Lowman swamp and wetlands, and others. Altogether, 96 sites are present within Lehigh and Northampton counties. The inventory was initially created for the Valley in 1999 with an update in 2005 and is currently in process of being updated. A new version of the inventory will be available in spring 2013 as prepared under contract to the LVPC. The Natural Resources Plan mapping as described above will be updated based on the new natural heritage area mapping.
Lehigh Valley Natural Resources Plan:http://www.lvpc.org/pdf/lv2030/compPlan02.pdf
The Lehigh Valley Greenways Plan: http://www.lvpc.org/UntitledFrameset-7.html
Wildlands Conservancy: http://www.wildlandspa.org/

Climate and Energy

Under the sustainability project the LVPC will develop a Climate Plan and an Energy Plan as new components of the LVPC Comprehensive Plan. The Climate Plan involved research into the current science associated with climate change or global warming and creation of goals, policies and implementation strategies to deal locally with the issue. The LVPC incorporated published sources of data and assessments associated with climate change such as the 2009 Pennsylvania Climate Impact Assessment. 

The Energy Plan includes research into the current science regarding energy efficiency and conservation and creation of goals, policies and implementation strategies to deal locally with this issue. The plan focuses on the energy consumption associated with land use patterns and energy conservation at the municipal and residential levels.
These plans were presented in the summer of 2014 for public input. 
Return On Environment Study

The Return on Environment study will document the value of natural resources as it relates to the quality of life and the economy. The current state of the environment (water, air quality, habitat, energy, land, and waste) will be reviewed. Trends impacting the quality of life, local economy, and the environment will be presented, for example, regional economic growth, storm water and water quality, and impacts on health and wellbeing. Topic areas to be analyzed include natural system services, air quality, tourism, revenue generated from outdoor recreation, and jobs created by outdoor activities. The study will create conservation leverage, showing that quality of life can be improved while saving tax dollars and growing the economy.

EnvisionLV 3-24-2014 - LV Planning Commission
EnvisionLV 3-24-2014 - Community Conversation Highlights
Lehigh Valley Mirror TV - Wildlands Conservancy
PPL/EnvisionLV Energy Forum
8/12/2014 3:00:00 PM
Veterans Sanctuary
LVPC Regional Planning Dinner + Community Awards
10/23/2014 5:30:00 PM
Lehigh University, Iacocca Hall
Summit for Smart Growth and Sustainable Communities
12/5/2014 8:00:00 AM
Hotel Bethlehem
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