VARDEN – The public will get to enjoy the sights and sounds of nature while learning about it at the 5th Annual Varden Conservation Day on Sept. 6 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The event will take place rain or shine. It is sponsored by the Friends of Varden Conservation Area (FVCA).

Community members will get to learn about the environment and meet with various community organizations.

There will be guided hikes, a children's fishing tournament, Varden history hikes and displays.

The Pocono Snake and Animal Farm will have live reptiles at 11 a.m. There will also be food, live music, homemade ice cream and prizes.

“It's important to teach people about the environment,” said Dr. Mead Shaffer, a member of the board for FVCA. “Environmental education always has been a primary concern of mine.

“I trust this land will allow present and future generations to observe and study the diverse ecology found in the Varden Conservation Area.

“It's a state park, but it's not your typical park. There's no camping, bikes or ATVs. There are just trails.”

Varden has been home to eight generations of the Shaffer family that started with John Shaffer in 1786.

In December of 2001, Mead donated his land to the Commonwealth, a total of 430 acres, that became known as the Varden Conservation Area.

“There are a lot of great activities available here,” Mead stated. “You can go hiking, bird watching, snowshoeing, cross country skiing and more.”

Taste of history

In 1932, Mead Shaffer Sr. of New Jersey returned to his family roots in Varden. His father, Frank Shaffer, did the same during the Great Depression.

They bought “64 acres of property for $700” and tended a herd of milking cows and some horses.

Mead Shaffer Sr. continued to take care of the farm and after World War I ended, the dairy cows were replaced with beef cattle.

Varden Conservation Area

In 1840, Cortland Brooks purchased 30 acres of land, known as Brooks Farm today. In time, the farm had 400 acres. The Brooks' owned the property for “better than a century.”

In 1965, Shaffer purchased a number of adjacent properties, including some that was previously owned by the Brooks family.

After a donation from the Wayne County Sportsmen's Association of 1,000 red pine transplants, the Shaffer family “hand-planted seedlings almost every spring,” many of which originated from the Pennsylvania State Forests Nurseries. Because of their efforts, “100 acres of abandoned fields have been reforested.”

The park is currently divided into two areas, VCA East through the Tannery Road Access and VCA West through the Mid Valley Road Access. VCA East is about 242 acres and VCA West is 192 acres.

In 2006 an access road and parking lot were built at VCA West. Most of the trails and roads are established there. It's a “natural wooded area” and has “growths of hand-planted evergreens.”

In 2007 an access road, parking lot, pavilion, rest stops and a bridge over Middle Creek were built at VCA East. It includes trails, farm roads, open fields surrounded by mowed paths and is a “natural woodland which has undergone timber stand improvement” as well as areas with “planted in white spruce and larch.”

The VCA property is managed by Promised Land State Park, located in Pike County.

“I encourage people to use the property,” Mead said. “It's very interesting and there's a lot of outdoor recreation. We keep on making improvements.”

He added the property is 450 acres and there are around four miles of trails.

There are two ways to access the VCA. One is on Tannery Road and the other is on Mid Valley Road. Both are off Route 296

For more information contact Varden Conservation Area, c/o Promised Land State Park, 100 Lower Lake Road, Greentown, PA, 18426-9735; call (570) 676-3428; email; or visit and look up Varden Conservation Area.

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