May/June Partnership Update

June 29, 2021

Happy early summer! By now, most of us are returning to a new, post-COVID-19 normal. As we reopen, please keep in mind that our municipal, county, and state representatives and leaders face decisions about how to spend resources. For instance, each county and each municipality in Pennsylvania will receive federal stimulus funds from the American Rescue Plan to aid in recovery efforts of all types. Your county and municipal leaders will need to hear from you as they determine how best to use those funds on your behalf.

Remember that COVID-19 revealed stubborn weaknesses and inequalities in our society – healthcare, economy, transportation, and food, as well as in our communities, institutions – and our own personal habits. While considering how to move forward as a community, county, and region, I ask you to tell your representatives and decision makers: each decision will either move us closer to or further away from health, sustainability, equity, and our shared vision of a future landscape of conserved resources and vibrant communities sharing a common sense of place and collaborating on well-planned growth and sustainable economic development. It is my sincerest wish that you find peace with this new, post COVID-19 normal and that you are working to help heal our communities in your own unique way.

Please join me in requesting that Rescue Plan funds be prioritized for the following uses: historically-disadvantaged owners and small businesses; the hospitality, food and retail sectors; non-profit organizations serving vulnerable populations; childcare providers; workforce development; and the outdoor economy, conservation, trails, parks, and outdoor recreation. (Why spend on these areas? Read on here.) “This is an unprecedented opportunity for counties and municipalities to invest in critical infrastructure and make the outdoor economy part of their post-pandemic recovery” wrote Silas Chamberlin, Vice President of Economic and Community Development at York County Economic Alliance. Don’t delay asking your county and municipality for a portion of funds for your conservation, preservation, or recreation project! We have also included a summary video and memo links in the newsletter.

I am happy to announce new additions to staff that will increase our ability to manage programs in a way that provides more support for you and Partners. These hires are pivotal in the evolution of the Partnership, as we cannot advance our work without additional human capacity. For the first time, the South Mountain Partnership will have two staff members. Julia Chain was officially hired as the first Program Manager for the Partnership – be sure to learn more about her background and new role. While Julia takes on much of the Partnership’s programming responsibilities, I will continue to serve as the Partnership’s director while also devoting a portion of my time to serving as the Director of Pennsylvania Landscape Conservation on behalf of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy. Additionally, Joe Baker will serve as the facilitator and manager of the South Mountain Research Corps & Science Summit through the Spring of 2023. I look forward to learning from these two individuals and to seeing you benefit from their great work!

We heard from many of you that the Spring Partnership Meeting (recording available here) about solar energy development was a huge success. For some of you, this was the most meaningful Partnership meeting that you had ever attended. We were humbled to get such good feedback. Hearing what you need and want – good and bad – is important because it allows us to adjust what we do to better serve you.

Let’s celebrate together at the next Partnership meeting in September! Save the date for Setpember 17th from 9:00am – noon. We will meet in person and the meeting will be held in Cumberland County.


Until then,

Katie Hess

Director, South Mountain Partnership & Director of Pennsylvania Landscape Conservation