There's nothing wrong with the York County Commissioners using part of the county's share of the state's Marcellus Shale impact fees to preserve the site of a Revolutionary War prison camp.

That's especially true since they're limited in how they can spend the $369,000, which was received last year during the first annual distribution of the fees.

For example, the money can't be used directly to shore up some of the social services that have seen their funding cut under the Corbett administration, although that would have been helpful.

Rather, the fees generated by Pennsylvania's natural gas boom can only be spent on recreation-related and open-space projects.

Given those restrictions, Camp Security in Springettsbury Township is certainly a project worthy of the funds.

Preservationists have been trying for years to protect the 47-acre site, which is one of only a handful of Revolutionary War POW camps that have not been lost to residential or commercial development, according to Todd McNew, Pennsylvania State Director at the Conservation Fund.

The Locust Grove Road property -- believed to have held about 1,500 captured British soldiers and their families between 1781 and 1783 -- was named one of "America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places" in 2005 by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.


The Conservation Fund stepped in last year, agreeing to use bridge financing to buy the land from developer Timothy Pasch for $1.05 million -- and giving local preservation group Friends of Camp Security a year to reimburse it.

Springettsbury Township and the state's Department of Conservation and Natural Resources already have committed $350,000 toward the purchase, but even taking into account private donations about $600,000 still needs to be raised.

If the goal isn't met by May, the parcel goes back on the market, with no guarantee it will be preserved.

Again, a worthy project.

But not the only worthy project in York County.

That's why two county commissioners -- Steve Chronister and Chris Reilly -- balked when McNew approached the board, requesting it contribute $250,000 toward the cause.

While acknowledging Camp Security deserves to be preserved, they pointed out other groups have already requested some of the $369,000.

For example, the commissioners are giving $87,000 from the fund to a Heidelberg Township land preservation project and $40,000 for a recreational trail proposal for Red Lion, Dallastown, Yoe and York Township..

In the end, the commissioners Wednesday approved $75,000 toward the Camp Security effort, and made a promise to revisit the issue as the May deadline approaches.

But even if any money remains at that point and the commissioners decide to give it all to the preservationists, it will not be nearly enough to cover the $525,000 that remains to be raised.

The groups have about three months to ramp up their fundraising, hopefully making a nationwide plea to help save Camp Security.

It's not impossible, especially considering this is part of America's history, not just York's.