The South Mountain Conservation Landscape is one of eight such landscapes across the Commonwealth that the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) recognizes for their unique cultural, historical, recreational, and economic features. Since 2004, Pennsylvania’s Conservation Landscape Program has used place-based partnerships to drive strategic investments and actions around sustainability, conservation, community revitalization, and recreation projects.
In 2019, an independent evaluation of the program was conducted to better understand the impact it is having, identify best practices, and recommend ways for improving and sustaining it. Findings from the evaluation can be found in the recently released report, 2019 Pennsylvania Conservation Landscapes – Models for Successful Collaboration, which can be downloaded at http://www.docs.dcnr.pa.gov/cs/groups/public/documents/document/PA_Conservation_Landscapes_Report2019.pdf.
The report identifies best management practices such as the power of partnerships, collaboration makes connections possible despite development pressures, and public investments are the foundation for locally-based entrepreneurship. DCNR and its conservation landscape partners in the South Mountain and across the state have already begun implementing these and other recommendations and will continue in 2020 and beyond to make Pennsylvania’s Conservation Landscapes a model for place-based partnerships across the United States.
The South Mountain conservation landscape, which encompasses portions of Adams, Cumberland, Franklin, and York counties, is made up of hundreds of partners from municipal, county and state governments, local businesses, nonprofits, academia, and concerned citizens. Since our creation in 2006, we have many successes to celebrate. This includes the White Rocks land acquisition project that ultimately protected 850 acres of valuable forestland on South Mountain in Cumberland County. The site was under serious threat of development and its protection helped provide a buffer and scenic viewshed of the Appalachian Trail.
“The South Mountain Partnership invests in building the capacity of its partners and uses a collaborative approach to tackle large projects like the White Rocks acquisition,” said Katie Hess. Director of the South Mountain Partnership. “That’s led to significant wins for the landscape including the conservation of 850-acres of valuable forested land on South Mountain, the rebirth of the Craighead House as a cultural and educational asset, and a current focus on clean water efforts for local communities and the Chesapeake Bay.”