Community leaders from throughout the South Mountain region are invited to a summit in February to discuss ways to enhance its sense of place and expand the region's economy by capitalizing on its natural and cultural resources.
Scheduled for February 19, the first South Mountain Summit is part of the region's Conservation Landscape Initiative – an effort by the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources to engage communities and local partners with state agencies and funding partners to conserve and protect the high-quality natural and cultural resources and enhance the region's economic viability.
"With its fertile farmlands, clean waterways, renowned trout streams and vast woodlands, the more than 400,000-acre South Mountain region is truly blessed," Acting DCNR Secretary John Quigley said. "This summit will help leaders discover the natural and cultural assets of the region and learn why they are important to the local economy; learn about the partnership working to promote the region's assets; and share their thoughts on what future actions will be crucial to the economic vitality of the region and its sense of place."
The South Mountain Conservation Landscape Initiative – one of seven such regional initiatives in the state – encompasses Adams, Cumberland, Franklin and York counties. The South Mountain Partnership working on the initiative, led by DCNR and the Appalachian Trail Conservancy with many others, promotes and hopes to encourage economic growth and revitalize local communities based on the abundance of recreational and heritage tourism opportunities.
The summit will be held at the Penn Township Fire Hall in Newville, Cumberland County, on February 19 from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Registration is required. The cost per person is $15.
Acting Secretay Quigley will begin the summit by discussing an innovative model of conservation and preservation of sense of place on the state and local scale.
Three speakers will share the importance of the region's resources. Scott Weidensaul, an internationally known wildlife biologist and author of two dozen books, is a featured speaker. Also featured will be Dan Marcucci, a scholar of landscape studies and planning and a South Mountain native. The last speaker will be Lenwood Sloan, the Director of Culture and Heritage Tourism in Pennsylvania.
Feb. 18 Program
Prior to the summit, the first of the South Mountain Speaker Series will be held the evening of February 18 at the Woods Center at the Capitol Theatre in Chambersburg. A reception will begin at 6 p.m., followed by a lecture at 7 p.m. The lecture, "South Mountain: Cradle of Conservation," will be given by Shippensburg University professor Susan Rimby. A panel discussion will follow.
South Mountain is at the northern end of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Communities surrounding South Mountain have thrived off the fertile limestone agricultural lands, the timber that fed the iron furnaces, the plentiful game and wildlife, and off the abundance of pure spring water that is captured by the mountains permeable soils and released into the valleys. A rich cultural heritage exists in communities like Gettysburg, Chambersburg and Carlisle, and many smaller quaint villages.
The foresight of visionaries like Joseph Rothrock and Gifford Pinchot has protected thousands of acres of state forest land in the region. The 85,000-acre Michaux State Forest in the region is one of the largest intact forests between Harrisburg and Washington, D.C.
For registration and other information, visit the South Mountain Conservation Landscape Initiative webpage or call the Appalachian Trail Conservancy at 717-258-5771.