Preserving Pennsylvania Landscapes
Hikers need trails, and trails need land to cross. To hike, the land must be saved...
SATC is a strong advocate of conservation and land preservation efforts as it relates to trails and the important natural and scenic resources that contribute to the hiking experience, environmental health of our local landscapes and economic vitality of connecting communities.
Although the Appalachian Trail's path is now largely protected within a corridor of public lands, the Trail experience through wilderness and rural countryside is susceptible to irreversible change in a developing region. One's journey on the Appalachian Trail and various local and regional trails is vulnerable to major land development as well as the incremental and cumulative impacts of smaller development projects. Given those prospects, safeguarding the experience and planning for trails must be seen as an ongoing effort, requiring the sustained support and cooperation of trail users, public agencies, adjacent landowners, local communities, public agencies and nonprofit organizations.
SATC invites you to learn more about what is being done to preserve our local landscapes around Harrisburg, Pennsylvania and the various trails that weave throughout our region. The Central Pennsylvania Conservancy has served as an important partner to SATC in these efforts, particularly in the preservation success stories of the Thousand Steps in Huntington County and the White Rocks project in Cumberland County.
Current Issues and Projects in the Region
ATVs: A Plague on Streams, Farms, and Forests
They run up and down stocked trout streams, damage crops on farmland, rip out fencing and gates on public lands, intimidate landowners who try to stop them, and ride on our public roadways. These trespassers have had virtually free-rein, despite Act 68 of 2001 (the ATV law).
Claim: If you give us more (legal) trails, the trespass will stop.
Fact: Legal trails have engendered more trespass. A DCNR study of 7-11-2000 stated that there was no indication that legal trails diminished illegal riding. In fact, the seven State Forests with ATV trails had an average of 50 more miles of illegal motorized trails.
Claim:ATVs will be the economic salvation of rural Pennsylvania.
Fact: The economic benefit of hunters, hikers, anglers and wildlife-watchers is far greater than the economic impact of ATV riders. Our forests can’t be all things to all people. The vast majority of people who visit our state lands go there for the beauty and tranquility, not as a playground where they can rip up the land. Economic salvation? Only if you’re talking about after they drive out the hunters, hikers, anglers and wildlife-watchers – the very folks who are the big money-makers for Pennsylvania’s tourism industry.
Invasive Species Prevention and Removal
Does it seem like there's more thorny stickers in the woods, and fewer wildflowers? Free trade every day brings plants to our shores that don't belong here and crowd out the ones that do. Mile-a-minute vines, multiflore rose, Japanese stiltgrass, and garlic mustard are just a few of the invasive plants that choke off the native species in our woods and starve our wildlife.
In 2007, SATC volunteers began to take a stand and do our small part in combating the insidious green menace. Springtime volunteers are especially needed to hit invasive plants before they set seed and make millions more.
Marcellus Shale Drilling
Our landscapes are still scarred from our coal industry. We must not sacrifice the long term health and well being of our Commonwealth for short-term gain as we have in the past.
Further leasing of public lands could hurt our hunting and fishing traditions. All outdoor recreationists seek naturalsettings, not industrial forests. We want to preserve our rich natural heritage, not raze it for short-term financial gain.
“You can’t manage it if you can’t measure it.” Funding for research on Wildlife has been cut by 70%. Until a complete and detailed environmental impact study has been performed it is premature to even consider further leasing of DCNR lands. Mapping locations of rare, endangered and threatened species will take at least three years and require a five-fold increase in DCNR field staff.
We cannot risk damaging Pennsylvania’s billion-dollar outdoor tourism industry, which relies on scenic forests with over 2,500 miles of trails and opportunities for hunting, fishing, birding, hiking, mountainbiking, horseback riding and snowmobiling.
Pennsylvania is home to Federally-designated “wild and scenic rivers” plus innumerable HQ and EV streams in the Marcellus gas play, which are habitat for our native Brook Trout. Pennsylvania cannot allow our headwater streams to be further endangered.
DCNR currently manages our State Forests properly – but to retain FSC (Forest Stewardship Council ) certification, the forests must continue to be managed sustainably. 88 percent of the certified timber harvested in PA is from our State Forests. Additional leasing of our State Forests will imperil that certification and over 80,000 forestry jobs that depend on it.
The Kittatinny Ridge is one of Pennsylvania’s largest Important bird areas, the site of a world-famous autumn raptor migration, and the path of the Appalachian Trail through much of Pennsylvania. Audubon Pennsylvania, the Appalachian Trail Conservancy and many partner organizations have been working for years to conserve this critical landscape.
A recent report (PDF,11.86MB) details the current status of the ridge based on a series of measurements indicating some of the area’s great successes and largest remaining challenges.
Conservation Organizations and Initiatives
- Central Pennsylvania Conservancy: conserves natural resources and open space for the benefit of current and future generations through land acquisition, conservation easements, education and outreach in the Central Pennsylvania Region.
- Kittatinny Coalition: an alliance of organizations, agencies and academic institutions, co-led by Audubon PA and the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, that work together to conserve the natural, scenic, cultural, and aesthetic resources of the Kittatinny Ridge and Corridor.
- Dauphin County Conservation District: ensures the responsible use of Dauphin County's natural resources; protects and restores the natural environment; promotes public health and safety; and enhances the quality of life for all county residents.
- Shermans Creek Conservation Association: a non-political association, founded by a group of citizens who are concerned about the Shermans Creek Watershed.
- Manada Conservancy: a local, non-profit, land trust organization that is dedicated to the preservation of the natural, historic, agricultural and scenic resources of Dauphin County and to the promotion of environmental education.
- Pennsylvania Land Trust Association (PALTA): seeks to protect Pennsylvania’s special places — the farms, forests, parks and other green spaces that people love — the places that help to ensure healthy, prosperous and secure communities. To increase the pace and improve the quality of land conservation work, PALTA helps land trusts and other conservation practitioners improve their effectiveness, builds public understanding, and advocates for better governmental policy. PALTA maintains a comprehensive list of land trusts and conservation organizations in Pennsylvania.