Central Pennsylvania Conservancy Quarterly E-News

January - March 2023

Welcome back to our newsletter, we're glad you're here! Central Pennsylvania Conservancy has been busy this winter and we can't wait to tell you all about it.

Letter from the Executive Director

Red-winged Blackbirds have been serenading us on our Wednesday Walks as wintering flocks of birds begin to separate in breeding pairs. Snow Geese and Tundra Swans call from above as they migrate to their summer breeding areas in the north.

Like the flowers prepping underground for the joyful season ahead, we too have spent the winter preparing to blossom by completing and submitting materials for our land trust reaccreditation, working hard to reopen the trails and enhance habitat at our Juniata County preserves, increase communication with landowners, and finalize our plans for regular volunteer programming at our Letort Spring Garden Preserve.


Planning has also begun for our biggest fundraiser of the year, the Ironmaster's Challenge 15K and 50K Trail races, which has been confirmed for Sunday, September 24th at Pine Grove Furnace State Park. More details for runners and volunteers will be released, so stay tuned!


Yours in conservation,

Jason Andrew Beale

Match Madness is here! March 1-31, 2023

We are thrilled to announce our participation in The Partnership for Better Health's annual Match Madness campaign! The Partnership will match your donation during the month of March, providing CPC with crucial funding to continue preserving and protecting land across south-central Pennsylvania. Click the button below to access the donation page, and make sure to select Central Pennsylvania Conservancy as the recipient on the dropdown list!

Donate Here + Support Conservation!

Weekly Wednesday Walks

Join us every Wednesday at our Letort Spring Garden Preserve from 8-9:30 am at 1110 S. Spring Garden Street, Carlisle for a walk with a naturalist! Bring your binoculars and dress for the weather.


Call for Volunteers


We're so excited to start up our bi-weekly volunteer program at the Letort on Saturday, March 11!

Every other Saturday, join us at the Letort Spring Garden Preserve for hands-on earth care.

You could find yourself...


  • Planting native species
  • Participating in "urban archaeology" cleanups
  • Building and maintaining trails
  • Managing invasive species
  • Learning identification and hands-on stewardship skills
  • Collecting + propagating native seed
  • and so much more!


The first step to joining us is to fill out our volunteer application below, and we will reach out to you with the next steps. Please contact Stewardship Specialist Brennan Ka'aihue with any questions at 717-241-4360 or brennan@centralpaconservancy.org

Apply to be a Volunteer Land Steward!

Letort Volunteer Work Days

May - September: 10 am to 1 pm

October - November: 1 pm to 4 pm


  • March 11 + March 25
  • April 8 + April 22
  • May 13 + May 27
  • June 10 + June 24
  • July 8 + July 22
  • August 12 + August 26
  • September 9 + September 23
  • October 14 + October 28
  • November 11 + November 25

This could be you tending the earth, making it better for birds and bees and the babies who will someday inherit it.

It might not look like much now, but the little tree hiding in that tube will some day be a strong Black Oak if everything goes as planned. All planted trees are protected in plastic tubes to prevent their demise by hungry deer.

What's been happening at CPC?

Stewardship

Taking care of the land continues as long as the weather permits it! Over the winter we've welcomed several local groups to the Letort Spring Garden Preserve for hands-on earth care, including a Boy Scout troop who worked with our Land Steward Jesse Price to sew native wildflower seeds on the hillside above the parking meadow, and a wonderful group of volunteers from the Dickinson College Center for Civic Learning and Engagement, who planted over 125 native trees and shrubs. We also hosted an "Urban Archaeology" event where volunteers unearthed vintage dump sites and discarded the refuse for a safer and more beautiful preserve.

Students from Dickinson College's Center for Civic Learning and Engagement with CPC Stewardship Specialist Brennan Ka'aihue

Discoveries from "Urban Archaeology" Day, including locally produced bottles we dated back to the 1920's.

Pack it in, pack it out... CPC Land Steward Jesse Price hauls equipment out from our Greg's Woods Preserve in Juniata County

CPC Stewardship Specialist Brennan Ka'aihue is all smiles after a productive day clearing trails at Greg's Woods.

CPC Land Steward Jesse Price guides a Boy Scout troop in sowing native seed

Volunteers sift through decades of old refuse hoping to find treasures

CPC Executive Director Jason Beale helps monitor a property we have protected with a conservation easement.

Aside from community based stewardship, CPC also engages in an important annual process called monitoring, which mostly takes place when the trees have no leaves and the understory is dormant for maximum visibility. As a land trust, CPC's business model is to protect the conservation values of land by placing a conservation easement on it, which legally defines what can and cannot be done to the land. By visiting each eased property annually to observe and document the current conditions, CPC can track changes over time and ensure that the protected ecological values are being upheld. If you are interested in helping us with this process as a volunteer monitor, please indicate your interest by filling out and submitting our volunteer application here.

Progress on clearing trails at two of our three Juniata County preserves continues, as evidenced by the photos to the left. Be on the lookout for upcoming guided walks, volunteer opportunities, and birdwatching events!

Our Port Royal Wetland in all its snow-free winter glory. Buffleheads, a migratory waterfowl species, were recently spotted here, along with resident Wood Ducks!

Land Protection

This winter has been a productive season for the Conservancy, as we’ve closed on two transfer acquisitions and moved forward a handful of other projects which were slowed down by the pandemic. The 60-acre Spangler Tract in Dauphin county was successfully purchased and transferred to DCNR in late December, connecting the 1025-acre Boyd Big Tree Conservation Area with a municipal park on the Blue Mountain Parkway in Lower Paxton Township. Also in December, the Conservancy transferred its Windemaker Preserve on Blue Mountain to the PA Game Commission, adding 80 acres of prime, forested wildlife habitat to State Game Lands #230.


Carrying the momentum of these finished projects, the Conservancy is currently working with the Boy Scouts of America to acquire 916 acres of land surrounding Camp Tuckahoe in Cumberland and York Counties. The final sum of funding needed to move the project forward was granted in December 2022, and since then the Conservancy has been completing title work and soliciting a survey of the property in anticipation of a subdivision. Additionally, CPC is working with two separate landowners in Franklin County to conserve their land in perpetuity. The parcels to be protected include a farm property near the Borough of Chambersburg and a forested tract on Amberson Ridge, which contains the historic “Catholic Path”, a popular alternative route on the Tuscarora Trail.


Looking forward, the Conservancy is eager to continue working on easements with landowners in the Great Valley, and to actively engage landowners on the Kittatinny Ridge in conversations about conservation by mailing informational postcards seasonally through 2024. If you are reading this newsletter and know folks who own large tracts on the Kittatinny Ridge and are interested in discussing a conservation easement or sale, please reach out and let us know!

For more information on the Kittatinny Ridge, visit this handout from DCNR.


Biodiversity

is a big deal, but why?

Simply put, biodiversity refers to the variety of lifeforms on earth and how inextricably interconnected they all are. Without biodiversity, our ecosystems would collapse.

Every living being on earth performs specific activities in its day to day life, perfected over millions of years of evolution, that ultimately result in a healthy, balanced ecosystem. These activities possess inherent value simply by virtue of their existence, and utilitarian value by ensuring health and food security, fighting disease (more species = less disease), providing human livelihoods and half of the world's gross domestic product, and protecting us with nature-based solutions such as flood control, water filtration, and soil regeneration.

Unfortunately, human activities have severely affected biodiversity, causing the loss of 83% of all wild mammals and half of all plants. One link in the metaphorical chain missing means the rest of the chain's strength is compromised.

Protecting biodiversity means that we must act in ways that strengthen the chain of biodiversity, not weaken it. At Central PA Conservancy, preserving biodiversity is at the forefront of why we do what we do.

Here are some tips on how you too can help protect our most precious resource; all of life itself!

  • Government legislation - Make a difference by advocating for policy and law that puts the planet first


  • Nature preserves - By legally protecting the ecological values of places forevermore, we can save biodiversity together. CPC has four local nature preserves where you can experience the magic of our local ecosystems for yourself!


  • Reducing invasive species - Without managing invasive species, our native plants and animals stand no chance to survive, much less thrive.


  • Habitat restoration - Restoring ancient relationships between species leads to a healthy, resilient Earth, and healthy, resilient humans.


  • Captive breeding and seedbanks - Native species are struggling to reproduce on their own due to the conditions we have left our ecosystems in. Growing local species from seed and removing invasives to see what natives pop up go hand in hand with supporting biodiversity.


  • Research - Supporting the ability of scientists to learn more about our world will allow us to act in thoughtful and informed ways.


  • Reduce climate change - If climate change is allowed to continue unchecked and humans make no changes to our extractive lifestyles, biodiversity will pay the ultimate price. We have a moral imperative as a species to act accordingly and save all of life as we know it.


  • Purchase sustainable products - While the problems facing biodiversity are systemic issues, not brought about or the sole responsibility of any one person, we can still make a difference as individuals by being thoughtful consumers and holding companies accountable for how they treat the planet.


  • Sustainable living - Understanding how our lifestyle choices impact the world around us and finding ways for everyone to live better and lighter is key.
  • Education - Because when you know better, you do better, and when you care, you share.


We hope these tips empower and inspire you to make a difference! Don't hesitate to reach out to us if you'd like more resources about these ideas.

Photo Key

Left column from top: Tree Climacium Moss (Climacium dendroides), Chlorociboria fungus (Chlorociboria aeruginascens), and White tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus)

Right column from top: Grass-leaved goldenrod (Euthamia graminifolia) with Locust Borer (Megacyllene robiniae) and Common Eastern Bumblebee (Bombus impatiens), Nannyberry (Viburnum lentago), and Polyphemus moth (Antheraea polyphemus)

Bottom: Round lobed hepatica (Anemone americana)

Thanks for reading and supporting our work to protect and preserve land in south-central Pennsylvania!

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