Natural Resources Conservation & Protection
Mission: The mission and charitable purpose of the lancaster county conservancy is to preserve and protect natural lands and to promote and support public policy, laws, and actions towards open space preservation in lancaster county, pennsylvania, "because clean air, fresh water and wild places are vital to every generation".
Programs: Land protection and acquisition-the conservancy is a land trust accreditation commission accredited land trust. We partner with local, county, state, and national governmental entities and non-profits to identify and acquire lands of high conservation value and are one of the most successful land trusts in the commonwealth of pennsylvania. We work with landowners and our partners to protect land through acquisition and conservation easements by donation, bargain sale, or a fair market value purchase. Currently the conservancy owns 4,439 acres in fee and holds 1,031 acres in conservation easements for a total of 5,470 acres of protected natural lands. We have 38 nature preserves located in lancaster county and within the riparian buffers that border york, chester, and dauphin counties. Our work is critical to clean air and water. Only 15% of lancaster county is in forest, impacting our air quality. Our waterways flow to the susquehanna and ultimately the chesapeake bay. The forests of our preserves filter the air and water, protect critical habitat, and provide recreational opportunities which enhance health and well being. We work in large landscape protection. The conservancy serves as the external lead for the susquehanna riverlands, a pennsylvania department of conservation and natural resources conservation initiative encompassing the lower susquehanna. Our work in the susquehanna riverlands includes land protection, education, land use regulations, work on water resource protections, marketing, historic interpretation and engagement, and outreach. We partner with the pennsylvania highlands coalition on protection of the resources of the highlands. Taking a large landscape approach to land protection provides us with more partners, greater opportunities, and the ability to work on long term goals. Specific 2014 program activities included the following:acquired 195 acres of land, forming part of the shenks ferry wildflower preserve in conestoga township, lancaster county and the otter creek nature preserve in lower chanceford and chanceford townships in york county, from ppl. Funding was provided by the conservation fund and padcnr. The otter creek lands are adjacent to lands owned by padcnr which include the urey overlook, and the forested buffer and upland forests adjacent to otter creek. The shenks ferry wildflower preserve is a nationally known native wildflower preserve visited by thousands of people, and the subject of much academic research. Advocated for protection of our natural lands from proposed pipeline projects. The rock springs project included an initial proposal for crossing an old growth section of our fishing creek preserve with a gas line and a proposal for a water line impacting our rock springs preserve. The atlantic sunrise project was initially proposed to bisect our tucquan glen preserve and the newly acquired shenks ferry wildflower preserve and later proposed to impact steinman run. We worked with staff, volunteers, state and national government, citizens, local government, non-profits, national agencies and organizations, and the pipeline companies to develop alternative approaches. This work resulted in the current plans for these pipelines which now avoid our preserves and reduce the permanent impact on our scarce forests which play such an important role in providing clean air and water to lancastrians. The conservancy continues to serve as the external lead to the padcnr susquehanna riverlands conservation landscape work. This work includes land protection; marketing and tourism development; cultural resources identification, research, and protection; trail development and management; outreach and public events; and running a mini-grant program to support these efforts. We continued to work closely with padcnr, the national park service, lancaster and york counties, susquehanna gateway heritage area, business leaders, hiking and other organizations, local government leaders, the indian steps museum, york farm and natural lands trust, and others who work and play within the susquehanna riverlands. These efforts protect our water resources and the chesapeake bay, our air quality, habitat and habitat corridors, and cultural resources, and provide for enhanced recreation, heritage tourism and economic growth within the region and the river towns.
land stewardship-lands owned by the conservancy are managed in accordance with donor wishes and best management practices as defined through comprehensive management plans prepared for each preserve. Conservancy preserves are open to the public free of charge for activities including hiking, bird watching, cross country skiing, nature walks, passive recreation, and education. Many preserves are open for hunting under agreements with the pa game commission. Our stewardship staff works with volunteer land stewards and paid staff to manage the preserves. We provide educational programming for our volunteer land stewards and engage with the community to inventory resources, design and clear trails, create and install interpretive signage, and enhance habitats. Our nature preserves provide safe and enjoyable opportunities to the public while ensuring protection of the natural resources. Specific 2014 program activities included the following:continued ongoing investment in volunteer education and outreach. Conducted a successful 2nd year volunteer land steward workshop providing education topics such as tree identification, invasive species identification and management and signed up more than 50 volunteers with our program. Continued training increased volunteers' understanding of the natural world and active stewardship management of preserves. Implemented rain garden projects at climbers run and welsh mountain nature preserves and in lancaster city. Implemented additional storm water initiatives including dry creeks, rain barrels, riparian buffers, and meadows on preserves and through joint partner projects which demonstrate tangible ways the public can safeguard local water resources and protect the chesapeake bay while creating valuable wildlife habitat. Installed new parking areas, trails & kiosks on our preserves. Coordinated the new welsh mountain parking lot project working with east earl township and the welsh mountain committee. Worked with boy scouts to install kiosks on the steinman run and fishing creek preserves. Added 2. 5 miles of trails for public use on the turkey hill trail from the enola grade access to the safe harbor preserve parking area. Constructed 1. 5 miles of new trail at the welsh mountain preserve. Organized and coordinated 15+ stewardship activities throughout the year on various preserves. Organized events with the scouts, and both the great pa cleanup and the day of caring gave the community an opportunity to clean-up trash, remove invasive species, plant native trees, and to help with trail maintenance. Completed annual monitoring of the conservancy's 67 conservation easements in 11 townships and provided information to landowners on topics including wildlife habitat programs, riparian buffer maintenance, and forest management planning to protect conservation values of our easements. Our ongoing easement monitoring program builds positive relationships with landowners to help protect over 900 acres of private and public natural lands held in conservation easements.
education-our education programs include newsletters, internet information, annual reports, general programs and events, and school based programs. Our education programs assist school districts in meeting the state department of education standards for environment and ecology. Using the conservancy's preserves as outdoor classrooms, classes from different school districts engage students and teachers in the study of natural sciences and ecology. The conservancy provides summer outdoor education activities for urban youth through head start and other programs, and hosts an education center on a mixed habitat preserve. Specific 2014 program activities included the following:we continued to connect people with nature by creating extended and personal experiences that support an environmental ethic in lancaster county. We expanded our ability to provide direct environmental education programming while motivating and enabling others to do the same. Our master naturalist certification program included 18 students who will provide over 500 hours of community service in lancaster county in 2015 and over 2,000 hours over the next 3 years. Collaboration for this program included millersville university, franklin and marshall college, lancaster county parks, the lancaster herpetological society, and pennsylvania master naturalist. Focus areas include youth education, protection and enhancement of our natural areas, especially forest, stream, and riparian buffer health, and urban projects that benefit the public. Our upstream/downstream program included 2 local middle schools and provided the opportunity to learn and experience how lancaster county impacts on our local, state, and chesapeake bay watershed. Fifty students and five instructors took part in pre-teaching units, pre and post assessments, field trips and hands on activities in lancaster city, climbers run nature preserve, and arthur sherwood state park in annapolis, maryland. Conservancy sponsored field trips and field experiences provided students of all ages with the opportunity to experience lcc preserves and programming. Four year old children from lancaster headstart fourth graders from james buchanan elementary elementary and middle school age children from arbor place, crispus attucks, chestnut hill daycare, and lancaster rec middle school students from wheatland and marticville high school students from penn manor college students and instructors from millersville university and franklin and marshall college. Climbers run nature preserve bio-blitz - college, high school and elementary students, instructors, toddlers, parents, scientists, citizen scientists, volunteers, local organizations, and community members joined together to tally over 460 species of birds, fishes, fungi, herbs, invertebrates, mammals, and plants. Collaborators included millersville university, lcc staff, members and volunteers, and pennsylvania master naturalist trainees. Participants were provided a rich learning experience and opportunities to learn about, connect, and enjoy nature. This activity allowed us to launch the susquehanna riverlands education and research center. This is just the beginning of our ability to serve all of lancaster county.
urban greening-this program is an urban greening initiative working to build strong and healthy communities through environmental projects in the city of lancaster, pennsylvania and its suburbs. Through the watershed initiative, the conservancy works alongside the city of lancaster to conduct community education and outreach. Through the infrastructure plan, the conservancy conducts a city-wide storm water campaign aimed at reducing runoff which would eventually reach the chesapeake bay. Specific 2014 program activities included the following:our urban greening program leveraged several partnerships in 2014 to expand our ability to show local residents how the use of simple techniques such as rain barrels, rain gardens, and infiltration trenches can be used to capture and retain water flow from homes. With good planning these approaches can be affordably implemented in a way that helps municipalities achieve their storm water goals while beautifying properties. The conservancy worked with the wolf museum and the city of lancaster to create a public demonstration green infrastructure project in their native plant garden capturing over 40,000 gallons per year off an adjacent property. This demonstration site has hosted multiple tours and events reaching over 300 people in the first nine months after completion. Supported the implementation of the city of lancaster green infrastructure plan and save it campaign with city focused programs that reach property owners; with a strategic focus on residential property owners, churches, and schools. We worked directly with an average of 50 people per month while reaching over 600 local residents per month via the saveit. Org web portal and social media. Expanded outreach from the city of lancaster to include municipalities along the conestoga, little conestoga and susquehanna rivers. Assisted in outreach to municipal officials and the implementation of residential green infrastructure projects in lancaster township, manor township, columbia borough, and marietta borough in lancaster county and wrightsville borough and hellam township in york county. Members of our staff serve on boards and committees at the local, state, and national level and provide presentations at national conferences and to local community groups. For more information about our programs and events visit our website at www. Lancasterconservancy. Org and like us on facebook.