Happy Spring! The vernal (spring) equinox has brought back to us more sunlight and warmth. Blooms and buds, as well as wildlife are literally springing forth again thanks to where spring begins: vernal pools. I hope that you have the ability to frequent a place where there are vernal pools so that you can experience the wildlife and natural areas that can only be found in the South Mountain landscape – that you hear spring peepers, see wriggling salamanders, newts, and fairy shrimp, and touch the new green shoots of native plants. So illustrious are South Mountain’s vernal pools that Jorge Ribas of Discovery Channel filmed this video about them at Kings Gap!
Unlike a lot of wildlife, we did not hibernate this winter. We invested a lot of time and effort into the future of the South Mountain Partnership:
- Leadership Committee members and staff met for a creekside planning retreat in December, where we penned the 2022-2025 strategic plan.
- Committee member training activities kicked-off. Our commitment to the professional development of our committee members led us to secure a highly customized and free three-part training with The Institute of Conservation Leadership.
- We were thrilled to have onboarded ten new committee members who stepped up to serve on our subcommittees. Please help us to thank and welcome them as we introduce them at upcoming events and through social media!
In every season we see the rare wildlife, natural areas, working farms, and historic places that make this region such a special place that wildlife and people depend on for homes, health, and fun. That’s why we have been hard at work over the winter advocating for more investments in conservation and recreation at the county level. Forty partners – many of you reading today – signed on to our joint letter that was sent to County Commissioners and administrators in Adams, Cumberland, Franklin, and York counties. As leaders make decisions about how best to stabilize our counties and the lives of residents, we recommended that now is the time to ensure the recovery includes investment in public health, environmental conservation, the outdoor recreation economy, and creating tools to best address the challenges of today and the future. As our region recovers from COVID-19, we are experiencing increased development pressure and degraded resources like air and water quality and overuse impacts to outdoor recreation facilities that are straining maintenance capacities and resources of local governments and organizatoins. ARPA funds can be used to pay for the projects that we propose and the U.S. Treasury has made it clear. We encourage each of you to reach out to your county Commissioners to discuss specific projects and funding needs. Until formal applications are created, consider sending a letter that states your interests and questions. You can view our letters to the counties and many more resources on our website.
We can’t stop here though – the next step is to advocate for Growing Greener III, a bipartisan strategy that would invest $500 million of Pennsylvania’s remaining $2.7 billion American Rescue Plan funds into conservation and recreation needs and opportunities like these. Our webpage makes advocating easy – it has everything you need to do it in only 5 minutes.
Please join us in April for the 2nd South Mountain Science Summit, a gathering where students, academic faculty, land managers, planners and land use professionals can meet, network, and envision the future of science and all types of research in South Mountain country. The program will include a welcome from DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams-Dunn and will feature a full afternoon of presentations and discussions on a variety of important environmental, geoscience, and historical/archaeological topics. Agenda and free registration are available here.
Finally, please help to spread the word: the pre-application process for South Mountain Mini-Grants opens on April 4th and ends May 27th. Most of our past mini-grants can be viewed in our Mini-Grant Program Story Map!
I hope to see you soon! Thanks for reading and for your support!