The PA Land Trust Association honored West Lampeter Township, Lancaster County, with the 2016 Government Conservation Leadership Award for demonstrated leadership in the conservation of our special landscapes and critical natural resources.
West Lampeter Township has been and continues to be a leader in employing innovative methods to cost effectively improve the quality of local waterways and the Chesapeake Bay. The township has adopted a progressive land use policy that protects both agricultural and natural resources.
(Photo: Jeffrey Marshall, President/CEO of Heritage Conservancy and PALTA President; Andy Loza, PALTA Executive Director; DeeDee McGuire, West Lampeter Township Manager; Jeff Swinehart, Deputy Director of Lancaster Farmland Trust and PALTA Policy Committee Member.)
Many municipalities do not view the agricultural industry as a benefit to meeting MS4 requirements. Frequently townships prefer to parcel out agricultural lands; however, agricultural lands have the most cost-effective best management practices (BMPs) available.
West Lampeter Township embraced this philosophy and used it to achieve success.
Through a unique public/private partnership with Lancaster Farmland Trust, the township completed a township-wide assessment of farms to document BMPs, create an accurate baseline database, identify farms that do not have conservation plans, identify farms for additional BMP implementation, and educate and improve relationships with local farmers.
West Lampeter Township has consistently recognized the importance of agriculture to its residents, local economy, and the rich, cultural heritage of the municipality.
Information collected during the assessment set the stage for a new, innovative model to improve overall stormwater and runoff issues concerning nutrient and sediment loading to local waterways, and ultimately, the Chesapeake Bay.
West Lampeter Township is also the first township in Lancaster County other than the city of Lancaster to have a stormwater manager on staff. The township shares the position with neighboring East Lampeter Township. This position ensures consistency in reporting across the watershed.
West Lampeter Township’s comprehensive plan highlights farmland preservation and the importance of agricultural resources.
Thanks to the township’s leadership, over 2,000 acres of farmland have been preserved in the township and an additional 2,510 acres are enrolled in Agricultural Security Areas.
Andy Loza, Executive Director of the PA Land Trust Association stated, “West Lampeter Township is a model to other communities. We commend the township’s efforts to manage stormwater, protect productive farmland and precious landscapes implement effect outreach strategies to the community. On behalf of PALTA’s board of directors and members, I congratulate the township leadership and thank them for their efforts.”The award was presented May 21 in conjunction with the 2016 Annual PA Land Conservation Conference in State College. DeeDee McGuire, Township Manager, accepted the award.