South Mountain Partnership Research Awards

The South Mountain Research Corps includes a pilot program with small research awards to support student experiential applied research as well as natural and cultural resource conservation efforts of landowners and land managers throughout the South Mountain region.

Teams may apply to work on a project or question that originated through the South Mountain Research Corps network and occurs within Adams, Cumberland, Franklin, and/or York counties.

Current Funding Round

South Mountain Partnership Research Grants

Deadline: December 15th, 2023 Online application can be found here.

The South Mountain Research Corps (SMRC) is seeking opportunities to support academic and student-focused research in environmental sciences, forestry, agriculture, cultural and historic resources, geology, geography, and land use planning. Linked below is the grant packet document that lists potential inventory, research, and monitoring priorities that could be conducted on public or private lands within the South Mountain landscape.

The documents are organized by general program area. The potential projects listed are the result of priorities expressed by researchers and agencies, as well as community feedback over the last six months. More detailed problem statements for each potential project are available upon request, and there is a contact name and email attached to each one.

This year the SMRC will accept applications for research projects that help address our research priorities within the range of $1,000 to $5,000. Previous projects have averaged around $3,000. Priority will be given to proposals that address the research priorities, to proposals that are multidisciplinary in scope, and to proposals that help students develop the skills and expertise necessary for successful careers in land and resource management

Some important details to include regarding the proposals and grants:

  • The grants require a 1 to1 cash or in-kind match.
  • A succinct project proposal that addresses the chosen problem statement, includes who will conduct the research and who will supervise it, and states specifically what will be delivered to address the problem statement (e.g. a technical report, a journal article, a video, etc.)
  • A proposed budget (one page), and timetable/project schedule, the budget should note if your match is cash or in-kind and the source of the match.
  • Eligible costs include; research costs, travel, student stipends or compensation [hourly wage or honorarium].
  • Eligible match can include cash costs as well as in kind university’s match of staff time.
  • Curriculum Vitae of the supervising faculty member(s) and student(s) working on the project

Questions about this program and any technical assistance needed with this form, please contact Julia Chain at

Proposals must be submitted by COB Friday, December 15th.  

Funding for the South Mountain Research Corps Program is provided by a grant from the Community Conservation Partnerships Program, Environmental Stewardship Fund, under the administration of the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Bureau of Recreation and Conservation. 

2020 Research Awards

SMRC: Dickinson College/Michaux State Forest

Project: Macro and Chemical Parameters of an un-named stream flowing by private cabin

The Wildlife Ecology Class from Dickinson College in Carlisle PA. will conduct a macro-assessment of a small stream running next to a private cabin in Michaux State Forest. Students may also visit the site at night to shine lights into the water to determine what amphibians breed in the ore hole into which the stream flows. Data will be entered on a standard ALLARM form and distributed to South Mountain Research Corps, Cumberland County Conservation District, ALLARM, and Michaux District office. Project Team: Private cabin owner and Dickinson College

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SMRC: Harrisburg University/Michaux State Forest

Project: Ecological Evaluation of Stream Impacts Due to Unplanned Trail Use

Recreation on public lands is increasing in popularity, particularly for those within proximity of urban centers. Most public lands have a multi-use mandate that seeks to provide users with a positive outdoor recreation experience while maintaining ecological integrity. Past studies have shown that recreational trail use can have deleterious effects on stream ecosystems. Trail use can compact soils, increasing peak flow events during storms, increase stream sedimentation, alter stream flow, and decrease habitat quality for aquatic life. However, base-line data on trail impacts to streams is often lacking. Without such data, it is difficult for land managers to make informed decisions regarding trail management, including trail closures or issuing event permits. How many trail stream crossings can a public land sustain without deleterious effects? This study proposes to collect base-line data on stream impacts due to trail crossings along Tom’s Run and Mountain Creek within Michaux State Forest. Project Team: Michaux State Forest and Harrisburg Univeristy.

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SMRC: Dickinson College/Michaux State Forest

Project: Use of Fluorescence techniques, passive samplers, and geochemical parameters to monitor source characteristics and organic loading to Ebbert Spring

Ebbert Spring a critical water resource, that apparently has been utilized by humans since settlement of North America and continues to serve as a partial supply to Greencastle, Pennsylvania. Like many karst springs, it is likely vulnerable to surface influences, and little is known about its source waters. The proposed study will use physio-chemical measurements to characterize features of the contributing karst basin and fluorescence techniques to characterize organic loading from impervious, agricultural, or other anthropogenic sources. Project team: The Archaeological Conservancy and Shippensburg University.

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