This landscape is home, it is where we live. Together, the Partnership strives to collaborate in sustaining all that makes our home landscape so special and all that supports the quality of life that we enjoy.

News Around South Mountain
Register Now for Spring Partnership Meeting

Join Us for the Spring Partnership-wide Meeting
Topics include Cutting-edge Multi-Municipal Stormwater initiatives; 
Land Preservation Programs, Threats, and Approaches in York County; 
and general announcements and updates.

Friday, April 27th
9:30am to 12:00 noon + optional potluck lunch
Mapleshade Barn in Dillsburg, York County 

Recap: 7th annual  "Power of the Partnership"  Year-End Celebration

On January 26, 2018 over 130 attendees from the following professions gathered at the 7th Annual "Power of the Partnership" Year-End Celebration to celebrate the successes of 2017, to have fun and spend time together, and to participate in the awarding of the 2017 South Mountain Mini-Grants and the 2017  Spirit of South Mountain Award.
  • Conservation
  • Planning
  • Recreation
  • Tourism
  • Preservation
  • Local government
  • Education
  • Revitalization
  • Arts
  • Agriculture
  • Health
  • +more

Join your fellow regional advocates and leaders at the next "Power of the Partnership" event in 2019. Until then, see what happened this year, organization you could get involved with, and how you can help to strengthen the 'power' of the Partnership in the p lace we all call 'home'. 

Apply Now! for a South Mountain Mini-Grant

The South Mountain Partnership's Mini-Grant Program was created in 2009 to catalyze on-the-ground projects that further the goals of the Partnership, and to advance the capacity of partners to complete projects throughout the region. The Program provides funding, on a competitive basis, to projects that sustain the South Mountain landscape's sense of place by protecting and promoting the region's Landscape Resources.

Examples of past project include trail and outdoor recreation infrastructure development (including signage); habitat restoration efforts; ecological research projects (targeting specific, defined management challenges); regional resource promotion and guides; resource interpretation; historical preservation; adaptive reuse and feasibility studies; education programming and development; and planning and revitalization studies and supportive efforts. Please note: land-use planning efforts at the municipal level (i.e. updating comprehensive plans or drafting zoning or subdivision and land development ordinances) are an acceptable use of Mini-Grant funding.

The South Mountain Partnership Mini-Grant Program was developed in 2009 and is administered by the Appalachian Trail Conservancy. Financial support is provided by the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources through the Environmental Stewardship Fund. To date, over $345,000 in grants have been awarded, with over $750,000 in matching funds leveraged by the grantees - a return of over double.

Public Input Hearings Scheduled Regarding  29 Mile High Voltage Electric Transmission Line

Image courtesy of Herald Mail Media

Landowners and area residents continue to organize against the proposed high voltage, high tension electric transmission line and new electric sub-station that would bisect the historic Cumberland Valley from the Shippensburg area to the Smithsburg, Maryland area. For more background information, see our previous article about the proposed power line project in the September issue of Around South Mountain Franklin County Visitor's Bureau and Franklin County Economic Development Corporation appose the project.  According to   concerned Citizens of Franklin County under the initiative of Stop Transource in Franklin County

"The proposed Transource Independence power line project does not benefit Franklin County in any way. It fulfills no need of our citizens. It's construction and presence would destroy farms, homesteads, historic culture, rural landscape, and the natural environment of the Cumberland Valley."

 The Public Utility Commission (PUC) is the Pennsylvania state agency will approve or deny the project. According to the PUC, "Transmission line siting cases present two distinct issues: [1] whether the need for the line exists; and, [2] whether the proposed route is the best of all alternatives considered...The proposed route must be established as the best out of other alternatives considering safety; environmental impacts; impacts on scenic and historic sights; existing land use; soil and sedimentation; plant and wildlife habitats; terrain; hydrology; and landscape. Factors such as location of airports and archeological sights are also considered."

Many local residents, local officials, and Franklin County representatives have expressed concerns about the need for the project and its proposed location. According to them: 

1. There seems to be no need for the proposed high voltage, high tension transmission line. The only response from Transource is that the proposed line would be built simply to get cheaper power from electricity plants in northern Pennsylvania to potential customers in northern Virginia, Maryland, and D.C. 

2. No benefit to Franklin County can be found in this proposed project - only negative impacts to agricultural, economic, and environmental, and historical/cultural resources.

3. It is clear to Franklin County leaders and residents that  the proposed route is not the best of all alternatives  and they continue to question why the currently proposed final path through high value and preserved agricultural land was chosen instead of  a path along Interstate 81, a corridor that is already aesthetically and ecologically degraded. 

Public Hearings Scheduled
Tuesday, May 22 - one at 1:00pm and one at 6:00pm
Wednesday, May 23 - one at 1:00pm and one at 6:00pm
Location: New Franklin Fire Department Social Hall, 3444 Wayne Road, Chambersburg, PA.
The PUC and locals encourage all locals to testify under oath at the public hearings so that their statements become part of the formal record and are taken into account in the decision making process. Everyone is invited and allowed to speak about how the power line project would affect them. A representative of Stop Transource Franklin County stated, "We have longed for our voices to be heard and this is our opportunity," and stated that this is the most important time to speak about how this affects the county, the landscape, and friends, family, and neighbors. 

Changes to our Historic & Rural Landscape
The project affecting Franklin County, PA and Washington County, MD (known formally as the Independence Energy Connection - west) is expected to cross twenty-nine miles through the heart of the historic and highly-productive Cumberland Valley in Franklin County. I t will degrade property values for farmers and home owners, is likely to disturb and compact prime productive high quality soil and its construction may cause soil runoff from farms into local high quality trout fishing streams. At least  153 individual metal lattice or monopole structures would be erected, each one 135 feet, or 13 stories, tall. The scenic and historic vistas and viewsheds that are iconic to Franklin County would be adversely impacted. These are all things that everyone who lives and visits Franklin County currently benefits from. 

For more information about the environmental issues and concerns raised by the construction and operation of electric transmission lines and facilities, please see: 
The proposed transmission line route cuts through and/or disregards the well-being of our residents and the unique and valuable natural, agricultural, historical, and recreational resources and legacy of our lands, including:

- Residential homes and communities;
- Protected farmlands, (farms having participated in a publically-funded conservation easement program to keep the farmland as farmland forever);
- Exceptional prime soils;
- Public Forests and Parks (Michaux State Forest, Caledonia State Park, Mont Alto State Park, Appalachian National Scenic Trail);
- Cultural Heritage Area (Lincoln Highway Heritage Corridor);
- Districts, sites, and properties that are Listed or Eligible for the National Register of Historic Places;
- Appalachian Trail Community (Waynesboro area);
- PA Natural Heritage Program areas (Supporting landscapes, Core habitats; Priority conservation watersheds);
- High Value Forests (USDA Forest Service)
- Priority Conservation Areas (The Nature Conservancy)
- + more

Recent News Stories

Quincy Twp. joins list of Franklin County groups to question Transource power line project

South Mountain Partnership recently assisted local residents to organize an information meeting about the high voltage, high tension electric transmission line proposed by Transource and PJM .  We worked with the group to coordinate the meeting content and logistics, and secured speakers Doug Wolfgang, Director of Farmland Preservation at PA Department of Agriculture and Darryl Lawrence, Senior Assistant Consumer Advocate at the PA Office of Consumer Advocate . In addition, we had the privilege of moderating the question-and-answer session. This meeting is one example of how communities and South Mountain Partnership often work together to bring needed resources and information to people so that they can make the best decisions possible for their communities.  

Click above to play video by Jonathan Hunter, Local DVM

Over $950,000 from Special Funds Awarded to South Mountain region in 2017
Photo courtesy of PA Environmental Digest

$976,664 was awarded by PA Department of Conservation & Natural Resources (DCNR) to local governments and organizations throughout the South Mountain landscape region on December 5th. This money comes from Pennsylvania Special Funds known as  the Keystone Recreation, Park and Conservation Fund (Key 93), which includes the Keystone-Community and Keystone-Land Trust Funds and the Growing Greener/Environmental Stewardship Fund (ESF),  plus other special funds known as  the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF); Pennsylvania Trails fund (PRT - federal source); Pennsylvania Heritage Area Program (HA); and the Snowmobile/ATV Fund (S/ATV). 

The money is awarded for projects that will create new recreational opportunities, conserve natural resources, and help revitalize local communities, enhancing the health and economic well being of communities (see list below). This year,  DCNR received 442 applications from throughout Pennsylvania requesting more than $87 million in project funding but could only award 266 projects totaling $44 millio n.  That means that 40 percent of those who applied for funding were denied.   Funding for conservation in Pennsylvania has fallen since the mid-2000's. Funding for Growing Greener has decreased by nearly 75 percent since the mid-2000's (  

The special funds used to award these projects were under threat earlier in the year when many of our local State Representatives (including Bloom, Delozier, Keefer, Kauffman, Moul, Shemel, Rothman, Tallman) in the House crafted and supported a strategy that would have taken Special Funds and used them to fill the hole in the state budget.  By definition, a Special Fund is an account established, by law, to collect and distribute money for a very specific purpose. Special Funds are needed by our communities for things like environmental protection, substance abuse treatment, clean water, 9-1-1 call centers, trails, parks, agricultural preservation, and more. The Growing Greener/Environmental Stewardship Fund and the Keystone Fund are Special Funds that provide much of the money needed to do environmental, conservation, and preservation work in Pennsylvania. The money in the Growing Greener/Environmental Stewardship Fund, of which South Mountain Partnership relies on to serve you and the counties of Adams, Cumberland, Franklin, and York, comes from a fee for dumping trash into landfills, known as the "Tipping Fee." Some of that money is directed to the PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources; from there local governments and organizations throughout Pennsylvania compete in an annual competitive grant program to receive funds. Read more about this in our September issue of Around South Mountain article, Special Funds Needed By Your Community Threatened by State Budget Proposals.

Special Funds awarded to your community in 2017:

ADAMS COUNTY - 2017 total $271,664

Carroll Valley Borough, $84,564, Development of the Carroll Valley Path System in Carroll Valley Borough, Adams County. Work to include construction of approximately 0.75 miles of trail from Northern Pike Trail to Sanders Road; ADA access, landscaping, project sign and other related site improvements. David Hazlett, (717) 642-8269 ext. 201, PRT 

Germany Township, $87,000, Development of Germany Township Municipal Park, Germany Township, Adams County. Work to include construction of baseball field, multi-purpose field, pedestrian walkway, parking area and boardwalk; installation of rain garden; ADA access, landscaping, project sign and other related site improvements. Susan Hansen, (717) 359-7537, Key - Community 

Gettysburg Area Recreation Authority, $31,600, Prepare a trail study for the development of approximately 12 miles of the Grand History Trail in Cumberland, Freedom, Liberty, and Mt Joy townships, Adams County. Work to include a written, bound report. Dennis Hickethier, (717) 337-2932, Key - Community Hamiltonban Township, $68,500, Further development of Hamiltonban Community Park, 

Hamiltonban Township, Adams County. Work to include construction of pedestrian walkway and multi-purpose fields; installation of play equipment and fitness stations with required safety surfacing, meadow restoration area and interpretive signage; ADA access, landscaping, project sign and other related site improvements. Nina Garretson, (717) 642-8509, Key - Community

CUMBERLAND COUNTY - 2017 total $555,000

Carlisle Borough, $150,000, Further development of Fairground Avenue Linear Park, Carlisle Borough, Cumberland County. Work to include construction of entrance plaza, retaining wall and seating; installation of utilities, lighting and native plantings; ADA access, landscaping, project sign and other related site improvements. Andrea C. Crouse, (717) 240-6951, Key - Community 

Central Pennsylvania Conservancy, $95,000, Payment toward the acquisition of approximately 77 acres located in North Middleton Township, Cumberland County adjoining two tracts of State Game Lands #230. Anna Yelk, (717) 241-4360, Key - Land Trust 

Craighead House Committee Corporation, $70,000, Rehabilitation and further development of the Craighead House, South Middleton Township, Cumberland County. Work to include renovation of parking area; construction of comfort station; installation of utilities; ADA access, landscaping, project sign and other related site improvements. Tom Benjey, (717) 258-9733, ESF 

East Pennsboro Township, $195,000, Rehabilitation of Adams Ricci Park, East Pennsboro Township, Cumberland County. Work to include installation of play equipment with required safety surfacing; ADA access, landscaping, project sign and other related site improvements. Cheri Matter, (717) 732-0711 ext. 1206, Key - Community 

Mount Holly Springs Borough, $40,000, Development of Mount Holly Springs Borough Veterans Park, Mount Holly Springs Borough, Cumberland County. Work to include construction of parking area, pedestrian walkway, fishing platforms and memorial plaza; installation of swings with required safety surfacing and rain garden; ADA access, landscaping, project sign and other related site improvements. Joe Andreatti, (717) 486-7613, Key - Community 

MULTI-COUNTY - 2017 total $175,000

Silver Spring Township, $25,000, Prepare a trail study for the development of approximately 8 miles of the South Mountain Trolley Greenway in Mechanicsburg Borough, Monroe and Silver Spring townships, Cumberland County and Dillsburg Borough and Carroll Township, York County. Work to include a written, bound report. Kristy Owens, (717) 766-1657 ext. 2503, Key - Community

South Mountain Partnership/Appalachian Trail Conservancy, $125,000, Coordinate and fund activities of the South Mountain Partnership Conservation Landscape including the 2018 mini-grant program and Go Local for Health Wellness Summit. Work to include a written summary report. Katie Hess, (717) 258-5771, ESF

(Key - Community) - Keystone-Community 
(Key - Land Trust) - Keystone-Land Trust Funds 
(ESF) - Growing Greener/Environmental Stewardship Fund
(LWCF) - Federal Land and Water Conservation Fund
(PRT) Pennsylvania Trails fund
(HA) - Pennsylvania Heritage Area Program
(S/ATV) - Snowmobile/ATV Fund 


USDA Seeks Proposals for Conservation Innovation Grants

USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is now accepting applications for up to $225,000 in funding to promote the development and adoption of innovative approaches for agricultural production in Pennsylvania.
Grants will be awarded for projects between one and three years' duration with individual awards not exceeding $75,000. State and local units of government, non-governmental organizations, and individuals interested in applying for these competitive grants must submit proposals by 4 p.m. Eastern Standard Time (EST) April 27, 2018.
This year, NRCS is seeking proposals focused on non-industrial private forestland, urban and micro scale agriculture, soil health, and pollinators. CIG does not fund research projects but makes an exception for on-farm conservation research as defined in the funding announcement. Projects must involve landowners who meet eligibility requirements for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP).
"CIGs explore on-the-ground conservation pilots and field demonstrations that can offer new opportunities for technology transfer to communities, governments and other institutions," says NRCS State Conservationist Denise Coleman. "We have provided over $1.4 Million in funding for 24 state CIG projects since 2010, and look forward to working with our partners on the next crop of CIGs to offer Pennsylvania farmers more options for sustainable production methods."
Applications must be submitted electronically on, and emailed in PDF format to Denise Coleman, Pennsylvania State Conservationist, at Questions about this announcement can be directed to: or (717) 237-2173. 
The CIG Announcement of Program Funding can be found here on and on the Pennsylvania CIG web page.


From Penn State News (Read the full article here):  Two new faculty members in Penn State's  Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering  will advance research and academics in agricultural engineering and technologies. 

The addition of Daeun Choi and Long He fulfills a priority of the department to strengthen research that supports mechatronics, robotics, automation, precision agriculture and unmanned aerial vehicles, according to Paul Heinemann, professor and head of the department, which is administered jointly by the  College of Agricultural Sciences and the  College of Engineering.

According to Heinemann, Choi and He will work closely with the state's growers to develop automation and artificial intelligence technologies aimed at providing practical solutions for labor shortages and safety issues.

An industry professional eager to work with the duo is Bruce Hollabaugh of Hollabaugh Bros. Inc., a 500-acre, family-owned-and-operated, fruit and vegetable farm and direct marketing operation in Biglerville. Hollabaugh also serves as chairman of the research committee for the State Horticultural Association of Pennsylvania, an organization that supports research for the betterment of the industry.

"There is a significant movement in the industry for increased uniformity in production, and how the use of robotic technology can increase efficiency and add value to crops and operations," he said. "We are appreciative of College of Agricultural Sciences Dean Rick Roush and Dr. Heinemann for providing us with not just one, but two individuals that are fantastic and have a complementary skill set. Penn State is positioning itself to make a significant impact in our industry -- with these two new faculty on board, we can explore new technologies in a way we've never done before."

From Franklin County Visitors Bureau (Read the full article here ): Agri-tourism, recreational tourism, and heritage (historic) tourism in Franklin County is growing. As Franklin County Visitors Bureau (FCVB) moves closer to creating the 11/30 Center in downtown Chambersburg, it is joining the Certified Tourism Ambassador (CTA) program. The CTA program empowers communities, residents, organizations and businesses to better serve residents and visitors with consistent, quality information. To develop the program in Franklin County, FCVB hired Doug Harmon as CTA Director.

Benefits of the CTA Program are numerous. Each builds on the other and leads to a benefits cycle, which includes enhancing the visitor experience. In turn, the CTA program builds a positive destination image, increases community economic impact and then continues the cycle.  The CTA Program is a nationwide certification, customized to each destination. In Franklin County, the CTA curriculum will highlight the county's natural, historic, and cultural assets. 

The initial hiring of a dedicated CTA Program director was funded with a Regional Capacity Building Grant, which is made by possible by the Chesapeake Bay Funders Network, Environmental Protection Agency, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and the Chesapeake Bay Trust. Led by South Mountain Partnership, FCVB was part of the South Mountain Collaborative and received a Regional Capacity Building Grant for $20,000. 

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Do you have news to share with the South Mountain Region?  We welcome you to submit announcements and updates of projects and events that are strengthening our quality of life.  

Include an image and brief description of the event or call to action (approximately 3 sentences). 

CALL TO ACTION - VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITIES  Looking for ways to get involved in the South Mountain community? The following organizations and events are looking for volunteers:

Appalachian Trail Museum

Concerned Citizens of Franklin County

Cumberland Valley Rail Trail 
contact:, 717-860-0444

Friends of Pine Grove State Furnace Park
contact: 717-486-7174

Friends of Caledonia State Park
contact: 717-352-2161

Three Creek Century Bike Race
Marilyn Chastek at 717-798-4537

LeTort Stream Studies Field Program
contact: Holly Smith at , or call  (717) 514-4607

South Mountain Partnership
contact: Katie Hess at 717-258-5771
* Event Planning - Seeking individuals with event planning and management experience to volunteer to plan and coordinate the Annual "Power of the Partnership" Celebration.  
* Speakers Series - The Partnership is always looking for events to include in future sessions of the Speakers series.  Would you like to help coordinate the series? Is your organization planning a talk/event that would fit well within the South Mountain Speakers Series? Contact us!

PA Parks & Forest Foundation

South Mountain Partnership | Appalachian Trail Conservancy | 717-258-5771 |  |