Thursday, March 24, 2022

Lancaster Conservancy Moves To Protect 1,066 Acres In York County Hellam Hills Conservation Area

On March 23, the
Lancaster Conservancy announced it is in the process of acquiring almost 1,100 acres in Hellam Township, York County, where the Codorus Creek flows into the Susquehanna River. 

The largely wooded tract was sought by the Conservancy because of its critical water and forest resources and its proximity to Conservancy preserves within the Hellam Hills Conservation Area, including Hellam Hills and Wizard Ranch Nature Preserves.

The Hellam Hills Conservation Area, which currently protects 1,040 acres, will expand with the addition of this new property to over 2,100 acres of contiguous forests – preserving the last large wooded area along the Susquehanna River between the cities of Harrisburg, York, and Lancaster. 

The property is just a few minutes from York County’s popular Rocky Ridge and John C Rudy County Parks, contains a long section of the Mason Dixon Trail System, and will provide much needed passive recreational opportunities in addition to protected habitat corridors. 

The Conservancy is currently working to raise the $12 million needed to acquire and undertake stewardship of the land.

The Conservancy’s efforts in York County are centered around the Susquehanna Riverlands, a Department of Conservation and Natural Resources designated Conservation Landscape, which consists of lands that fall within the York and Lancaster County municipalities that border the river. 

These critical forests along the Susquehanna River are located in an area rich with history and natural resources including waterfalls, glens, and rocky cliffs. 

The approximately 1,100-acre property the Conservancy is acquiring protects the watershed of Wildcat Falls and includes nearly a mile of Susquehanna riverfront and 1.5 miles of the Codorus Creek. 

A rock outcropping on the property locally known as Schroll’s Rock provides beautiful views of the Susquehanna River and looks down on the stone arches of Shocks Mill Bridge.

To date, the Conservancy has protected nearly 5,500 acres in the Susquehanna Riverlands, of which over 2,000 acres are in York County. With the acquisition of this new nearly 1,100-acre tract, the Conservancy’s protected lands within the Susquehanna Riverlands of York County will climb to over 3,000 acres.

“The work the Conservancy does to protect our region’s natural lands is a mission that reaches across geographic and ideological divisions. Our supporters include hunters and anglers who believe in conservation, but also environmentalists who are concerned about climate change, the water we drink, and the air we breathe,” said Conservancy President, Phil Wenger. “Unchecked development is putting pressure on our already fragmented natural landscape, particularly on wooded parcels of land. We are in a race against time to strategically set aside those natural places that are too critical for habitat, clean water, and public recreation to lose forever.”

The Conservancy is working with its York County, State, and regional partners to raise the total funds needed for this project, which will include both the costs of acquisition as well as the initial implementation of a management plan.

Click Here for the complete announcement.

March 30 Meeting

This new nearly 1,100-acre acquisition will be added to the Hellam Hills Conservation Area, which just underwent a vigorous master planning process identifying habitat improvements, restoration initiatives, and necessary infrastructure to expand public access. 

Many of these initiatives will be applied to this property which shares the same landscape and watersheds. 

A public meeting for the final presentation of the Hellam Hills Master Plan is scheduled for Tuesday, March 30 at 6:00 p.m.. 

For more information on the plan and how to attend, please visit the Lancaster Conservancy’s Hellam Hills Master Plan webpage.

To donate or learn more about Conservancy land protection efforts, hiking trails, educational programming, and volunteer opportunities, please visit the Lancaster Conservancy website.

(Photo: View from Schrolls Rock.)


-- LancasterOnline - Sean Sauro: Lancaster Conservancy On Track To Make Largest-Ever Acquisition For Expansion Of York County Preserve

[Posted: March 24, 2022]  PA Environment Digest

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