2010-05-27 / Features

Tree Farm Now Belongs To Pa.

Two-year effort to preserve 2,500 acres at Michaux State Forest complete

The Conservation Fund announced on Monday the transfer of the 2,500-acre Tree Farm #1 property in Hamiltonban Township, Adams County, to the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR), completing a two-year partnership involving federal, state, and local governments, private organizations and the citizens of Adams County. The property is now part of the Michaux State Forest.

“We sincerely thank all of the partners for their steadfast support for this project over the past two years,” said Todd McNew, Pennsylvania state director of The Conservation Fund. “This demonstrates Pennsylvanians’ strong commitment to preserving our natural legacy for current and future generations.”

“The 85,000-acre Michaux State Forest is one of the largest intact forests between Harrisburg and Washington, D.C. We are thrilled to add the Tree Farm property to our system, particularly in an area that faces great pressure from development,” DCNR Secretary John Quigley said. “At the direction of Governor Rendell, in recent years we have added 75,000 acres to our system, already among the top five in the country in the amount of state forest acreage. The forest products industry is important to the local economy, and this project ensures the Tree Farm #1 will continue to provide economic benefits to Adams County.”

Quigley added that the Tree Farm acquisition is an important accomplishment for the South Mountain Conservation Landscape Initiative, which is working to promote economic growth and revitalize local communities based on the abundance of recreational, agriculture and heritage tourism opportunities in Adams, Cumberland, Franklin and York counties.

Since becoming Pennsylvania’s first designated Tree Farm in 1947, Tree Farm #1 has been a local natural and recreational resource while being actively managed for timber production. When the Glatfelter Pulp Wood Co. listed the property in late 2007, strong interest from a diverse field of potential buyers concerned local citizens. Many worried that the property’s water resources, wildlife habitat and recreational amenities were threatened. Zoning would have allowed for the construction of approximately 500 homes on-site.

In March 2008, The Conservation Fund purchased the property and has since served as a temporary owner while more than $13 million was raised to complete the project and transfer it to the commonwealth.

The Conservation Fund worked with a coalition of partners to raise the funds, including: the Pennsylvania congressional delegation; the United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service; DCNR; Adams County; Hamiltonban Township and other townships and boroughs throughout the region; nonprofits such as the Land Conservancy of Adams County and The Nature Conservancy; and local citizens.

“This initiative will help protect some of Pennsylvania’s most pristine land,” said Sen. Arlen Specter. Sen. Specter, along with Sen. Bob Casey and Rep. Todd Platts, supported this project in Congress and secured $3.5 million through the federal Forest Legacy program. “I am pleased to have helped facilitate the federal contribution, which was combined with state, local and private funding to acquire the land. Tree Farm #1 will continue to serve as a recreational and economic asset for the community for years to come.”

“Today marks the end of a long journey to secure this property for the people of Adams County, but it is only the beginning of its legacy in Pennsylvania,” said Sen. Casey. “Our actions have helped ensure that this land will be preserved for generations to come, and I am glad to have played a role in getting us to this point. It’s a perfect example of the county’s and Pennsylvania’s commitment to maintaining its natural resources.”

“Thanks to the great leadership of The Conservation Fund, and a coordinated effort between the federal, state and local government and the citizens of Adams County, this project will enhance air and water quality, while also increasing opportunities for hunting, fishing and outdoor recreation that will improve quality of life and yield significant economic benefits for Adams County and the region,” said Rep. Platts.

“The public can look to the Forest Legacy Program with trust and confidence owing to the high standards the program participants agree to uphold,” said Deirdre Raimo, Forest Legacy program manager for the Northeastern area. “These standards range from the competitive process to choose projects for funding, to the due diligence conducted for each project. Congratulations to the Tree Farm #1 project partners, who competed well and labored through some tough issues in order to complete the acquisition.”

“This is a great day for all the residents of Adams County,” said Adams County Commissioner George Weikert. “This is a unified effort from our generation to provide a clean water resource, clean air and recreational opportunities for our children and grandchildren. Well done, Adams County!” Adams County provided $3.7 million from the Water & Land Protection Bond, which Adams County voters overwhelmingly passed in 2008.

The commonwealth contributed $4 million through the Growing Greener II program and the Pittsburgbased Richard King Mellon Foundation provided $2 million. Contributions from local municipalities and private donations secured by the Land Conservancy of Adams County and The Nature Conservancy totaled more than $130,000.

Pat Naugle, president of the Land Conservancy of Adams County, said, “The Land Conservancy of Adams County is proud to participate in the Tree Farm #1 project and is thankful to The Conservation Fund and the other partners for the successful transfer of this property to DCNR as part of the Michaux State Forest. The project will provide recreational and environmental benefits for generations to come.”

“The Nature Conservancy had identified this parcel as part of a priority forested area within the globally significant Central Appalachian Mountains, one of the most biologically diverse, temperate broadleaf forests in the world,” said Todd Sampsell, director of conservation operations. “We were very proud to partner with The Conservation Fund and others to help protect this important piece of forest and even more pleased to work with the citizens of Adams County to help secure local public support for open space protection through a successful county bond referendum.”

“The Board of Supervisors of Hamiltonban Township is pleased that the deed transfer of the Glatfelter property to DCNR’s Michaux State Forest has finally taken place,” said Township Supervisor Coleen Reamer. “Future generations will applaud our efforts. It is an important part of our regional watershed that supplies Hamiltonban Township and its many neighboring communities with a precious, clean water supply. We would like to thank The Conservation Fund, Adams County commissioners, our state and federal legislators and all the other organizations and citizens who came together to preserve these very important 2,500 acres.”

The 2,500-acre property abuts the Strawberry Hill Nature Preserve, serves as a buffer to the popular Appalachian Trail corridor and lies within the viewshed of Gettysburg National Park. It sits at the headwaters of much of western Adams County’s water supply and its protection will help provide clean air and water to county residents. Increased opportunities for hunting, fishing, hiking, wildlife viewing and other forms of recreation, combined with on-site sustainable forest management by DCNR, will provide a long-term boost to the local economy.

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