Meetings & Events Archive

Spring Partnership Meeting and Science Summit

Location: Shippensburg University

Dates: April 12, 2024

Event Summary and Takeaways

Thank you for attending our Spring Meeting and Science Summit. We enjoyed welcoming over 100 attendees over the course of two events and have some exciting presentations and takeaways to share with you:

Spring Meeting Highlights

1) Natural Heritage Inventory Update: Through coordination from the South Mountain Partnership, Adams, Cumberland, Franklin, and York counties will receive an updated Natural Heritage Inventory. The Western Pennsylvania Conservancy will do the work. Your role as SMP Partner: Suggest locations of quality habitat and wildlife through this form to inform where WPC visits to survey; local contacts/landowner information is very valuable and we ask that you include this information if able. Presentation linked here.

2) Cumberland County Comprehensive Plan Update: redevelopment and revitalization will be key to successful implementation of the updated plan. The majority of residents want more open space and trails and think that there is too much development. Farms can only be strong when Farmland Preservation continues to be strongly supported. he plan is currently being finalized and an implementation strategy is being developed with Cumberland County Commissioners. Your role as SMP Partner: Please help to build support by speaking out in support of land preservation and trails to county and municipal officials and staff; also by attending key municipal and county public meetings, writing letters, and consider joining the Cumberland Conservation Collaborative. Part 2 Presentation linked here.

3) PA Highlands: The federal Highlands Act was recently reauthorized and expanded and some great changes were made!  Now, entities other than state agencies can hold land easements. Entities that can hold eased land now includes: counties, municipalities, and state agencies. In addition, the geographic boundary can be expanded and this means that Highlands funding (Land and Water Conservation Fund) can now flow into the South Mountain and Kittatinny landscapes! This is a huge opportunity for the South Mountain region, as these federal funds can be used to match state funds in many cases. Municipalities must voluntarily opt into the Highlands landscape through a resolution (it can be voluntarily modeled after this one) in order for Highlands Funds to be used within the municipality. Additional FAQs are available here. Your role as SMP Partner: We will have further steps to get involved soon, stay tuned!! Presentation linked here. Email Dan Pierce with questions at:

4) State of the Region Implementation: The first Action Plan project has been started with the Natural Heritage Inventory updates for Adams, Cumberland, Franklin, and York counties. We gathered your feedback as we set out on the next Action Plan project: convening a regional trail coalition.

Science Summit Research Presentations:

The following presentations featured student research occurring on South Mountain.

  1. Investigation into the Irishtown Gap Hollow Settlement  Speaker: Amanda Reshelle Telep, IUP
  2. The Natural Water Chemistry of Cumberland Valley Springs  Speaker: Dr. Tom Feeney, Shippensburg University
  3. Southern Michaux Trail Assessment, Shippensburg Center for Land Use and Sustainability Speaker: Dr Russell Hedberg | Presentation Link
  4. Study for the presence of coliform bacteria in two South Mountain-originating roadside springs Speaker: Yara Amleh, Pennsylvania State University | Presentation Link
  5. Pollen Analysis & Radiocarbon Dating of a Vernal Pool on South Mountain Speaker: Emily Hegedus, Shippensburg University | Presentation Link
  6. Lithic and Radiocarbon Analysis of the Green Cabin Quarry Site (36AD0569),  South Mountain, Pennsylvania Speakers: Kristopher Montgomery, IUP

This meeting is generously sponsored in part by:

Twice annually (Spring and Winter), the Partnership holds a Partnership-wide meeting for all partners and any interested individuals or organizations to come together and build relationships and collaborations around the promotion and preservation of our region’s landscape resources. This event includes breakfast snacks and coffee. These meetings are a chance to:

  • Connect or reconnect with the Partnership, learning more about initiatives and on-going projects
  • Build and strengthen our network of people and organizations working throughout the region
  • Spark conversation and collaboration across political and sectorial boundaries
  • Engage 50+ partners in on-going work throughout the region
  • Involve partners in defining the direction of the Partnership

The same afternoon we are excited to host our third South Mountain Science Summit. The summit will feature presentations of important research conducted here in the South Mountain Landscape. This is also intended to be a gathering where students, faculty, land managers, planners, and land use professionals can meet, network, and envision the future of science and research in South Mountain.

About the Events

Our Spring Partnership Meeting will include a welcome and update from our host Cumberland County. Stay tuned for updates on their Comprehensive Plan update and specifically their Land Partnerships Plan. Other topics of interest include hearing an update on the Highlands Conservation Act and what new boundaries may mean for our region. We will also launch our first State of the Region implementation project during this meeting and hear from the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy on their planned update of the Natural Heritage Inventory (including surveys for protected plants and animals) in our four-county area! 

Over lunch enjoy a walk on the Cumberland Valley Rail Trail or visit Shippensburg University Fashion Archives and sign up for a paid lunch, or bring a bagged lunch to enjoy. Everyone is welcome to participate in the lunch regardless of which events you are attending .The South Mountain Science Summit will feature a welcome from the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and then will dive into research projects from students and land managers in the region. We will end with a discussion on research priorities for the region. Finally, we will have a networking reception following the event to connect student researchers, organizations, and land managers.


8:30AM | Breakfast Snacks and Networking 

9:00AM | Program Welcome 

9:20AM | Natural Heritage Inventory Update Process and Feedback 

What is the Natural Heritage Inventory and how does it impact the South Mountain Region? What does a four-county data update entail? Learn this and more from the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy

9:50AM | Cumberland County Planning Update

Cumberland County is updating its Comprehensive Plan & Land Partnerships Plan, learn what themes have emerged from this process and where the county is headed over the next ten years.

Speakers: Kirk Stoner and Stephanie Williams, Cumberland County Planning 

10:25AM | Break 

10:40AM | Highlands Funding Opportunity Q&A

Learn about the Highlands Conservation Act and Grant Program from state coordinator Dan Pierce.

11:00 AM | State of the Region Implementation Activity 

Help shape the implementation plan of the Partnership’s State of the Region Project by participating in this interactive session. 


11:45 AM |  Lunch and Explore

Lunch Served, purchase lunch in advance or bring a bagged lunch + explore Cumberland Valley Rail Trail, Fashion Archive, Little Red Schoolhouse


12:00PM | Registration Opens 

1:00 PM | Program Welcome 

Hear from the Department for Conservation and Natural Resources, Event Sponsors, and the South Mountain Partnership 

1:30 PM | Session 1

Hear from three specific research projects happening in the South Mountain. More details to come on presentations.

2:30 PM | Break and Snacks Available

3:00 PM | Session 2

Hear from three specific research projects happening in the South Mountain. More details to come on presentations.

4:00-4:30 PM | Closing Discussion 

4:30-5:30 PM | Networking Research Reception 

Join researchers and attendees for an engaging opportunity for good food and conversation!