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First Part of Boy Scouts' Staten Island Camp Saved from Developers

By Nicholas Rizzi | December 3, 2012 7:46pm

WILLOWBROOK — Part of the endangered William H. Pouch Scout Camp on Staten Island is permanently protected from being sold to private developers, thanks to a new deal announced Monday.

The Trust for Public Land, a national conservation group, stepped in to preserve the 115-acre camp after the Boy Scouts of America said they could not continue caring for it.

Under the deal, the trust purchased more than 30 acres of the camp using $5 million from the Port Authority and the city. The space, called a "conservation easement," will be managed by the state's Department of Environmental Conservation and will allow Boy Scouts and others to continue to use the camp for hiking, swimming, fishing, boating and more, the Trust for Public Land said.

"The Trust for Public Land is pleased to have collaborated with the State of New York, The Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, the City of New York, the local community, and the Boy Scouts of America, to protect this extraordinary place," said Marc Matsil, the New York State director for the trust.

Pouch Camp, the only Boy Scout camp in the city, hosts more than 25,000 children in the Boy Scouts, YMCA and Kaufman Camp every year, and the scouts also teach kids through programs at the site, the trust said.

In 2009, the Greater New York Councils of the Boy Scouts of America said it would be forced to sell the campgrounds to private developers if the city or state could not pay the millions needed to preserve the land, the Staten Island Advance reported.

This caused a stir in the Boy Scout community and among Staten Island residents, who organized petitions, protests and other events to save the site.

Last year, the nonprofit Trust for Public Land agreed to help save most of the camp, which will cost $15 million.

Monday's deal was just the first stage of the plan, which still requires another $10 million. The trust plans to purchase more of the camp in phases over the next two years.