In 2018, a grant from the Environmental Stewardship Fund helped The Nature Conservancy (TNC) permanently conserve 1,600 acres in Perry County that was in danger of being turned into a housing development. The property is located along Blue Mountain, which stretches across Pennsylvania from the Maryland border to New Jersey. The iconic ridgeline is one of our state’s most cherished landscapes—even forming a backdrop to the capitol dome in Harrisburg—and is one of the most important wildlife corridors in the Northeast.
TNC enrolled the property in its Working Woodlands program, which engages private landowners in sustainably managing the forest to benefit people and wildlife, such as migrating raptors and the endangered Allegheny woodrat. The forested slopes of the property also play a vital role in protecting the water quality of Sherman’s Creek and other nearby waterways: the forest absorbs and filters stormwater, which reduces flooding, keeps private and public water supplies clean, and prevents polluted water from flowing into the Susquehanna River—benefits that would have been lost if the property was developed.
TNC’s acquisition ensures that the property—which includes the popular Hawk Rock Overlook—will remain open to the public for hiking and seasonal hunting. TNC plans to develop an eight-mile loop to connect the property’s trails to the Appalachian Trail—a world-class hiking destination and national treasure—and another trail overlooking the Susquehanna Water Gap. As the trail network expands and the property’s outdoor recreation opportunities become more well known, businesses in nearby communities like Marysville and Duncannon stand to benefit from more visitors.