Industrial Point Event
Partners Celebrate Boat Launch Project at Industrial Point, White Mills
Federal, state and local partners gathered at Industrial Point, where the Dyberry Creek meets the Lackawaxen River in Honesdale, on Monday, May 23, to mark the next phase in the development of the Lackawaxen River Trail.
The initiative grew out of the Wayne County Trail Feasibility Study, completed in early 2020 that looked at the possibility of creating a trail connecting Honesdale to Hawley and beyond. The COVID-19 lockdowns that soon followed sent people flocking to the outdoors, and interest in paddling sports like kayaking and paddle boarding grew exponentially.
Add all that to the PA Fish & Boat Commission’s effort to expand access to these stocked-trout waters, and the Lackawaxen River Trail project was born. Over the next year or so, local volunteers met with PA Fish & Boat Commission officials to identify several locations where non-powered boat launches could be developed relatively inexpensively – two of those areas included Industrial Point in Honesdale and near the ballfield in White Mills.
The County purchased most of the property at Industrial Point and Wayne Memorial Hospital donated the rest of the land. The late Rudy Schemitz provided an easement to the county for part of his property to the river. The PA Department of Conservation & Natural Resources (DCNR) and the PA Fish & Boat Commission provided funding for the projects through various funding streams, both state and federal.
Thus far, the two projects have received more than $400,000 in grants for the development of the sites. The two new launches will join one developed several years ago at the Park Street Complex and another created via grant last year in Hawley’s Bingham Park.
On Monday, PFBC Executive Director Tim Schaeffer, sporting a hat from the famous Thomas Lures of Hawley, said the agency funded 11 projects through grants from the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation to improve access under the Delaware River Basin Conservation Act and three of them are on the Lackawaxen River.
Mike Slattery of the US Fish & Wildlife Service said a portion of the funds for Delaware River Basin Conservation Act come from manufacturers, like Thomas Lures, who pay an excise tax on the gear they sell, which in turn goes back to the states in the form of these grants. He also said there is an unprecedented opportunity to invest significant funding from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) over the next five years.
Bill Gibney, PFBC Commissioner for the northeast region, said Pennsylvania is unique in that it has several agencies representing outdoor recreation – PA Game Commission, Fish & Boat, DCNR and the Department of Community and Economic Development – that can work together to make these efforts a reality. “This is a poster child for that sort of project,” he stated.
The County Commissioners, first, offered a moment of silence in memory of Rudy Schemitz and his role in the project. Schemitz was a local entrepreneur and was often moved to give back to the community whenever he could. The commissioners then talked about their time in and around the river and how many in the community took it for granted.
The Lackawaxen River Trail project is set to change all that. Chairman Brian Smith said, “It’s all part of the balance of jobs, people and recreation, too.”
DCNR Deputy Secretary Laura Imgrund said these projects represent two of $10 million invested in parks and trails across the Commonwealth to help residents and visitors rediscover the outdoors and to provide access close to home. The Lackawaxen River Trail will not only enhance the quality life for both residents and visitors, she said, it will also generate economic development to support it.
The Wayne County Community Foundation, the Villaume Foundation, the Human Resources Foundation, Honesdale Borough, the Pocono Mountains Visitors Bureau, Trout Unlimited and Wayne Tomorrow! were also represented as partners in the projects.