On June 16th, the Central Pennsylvania Conservancy (CPC) purchased several tracts atop Blue Mountain in Dauphin County via a bargain sale acquisition, intended as an eventual transfer to the PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources as an addition to Boyd Big Tree Preserve Conservation Area, a popular natural area for local residents.

Herm Wolfersberger and his wife, Bessie.

Owned by father and son, Mr. Jim and Tim Spangler, the land was in the family since the 1880’s and first owned by Jim’s grandfather who ran a small sawmill operation in Linglestown. It was purchased from him by Jim’s “Uncle Herm” Wolfersberger, who paid for it with the wages he earned at the sawmill. The Spanglers’ willingness to donate value as part of a bargain sale to the Conservancy stems from Uncle Herm’s legacy of always allowing his land to be available to the public to enjoy. Uncle Herm was an old school survivalist who understood how to live in harmony with nature and share his love of nature with the community. Mr. Jim Spangler adds, “Uncle Herm was the finest gentleman I’ve ever known, and I know he would be happy to see this land protected for future generations.”

Jim Spangler knew that in 2002, CPC purchased the Shreckengaust Tract from his neighbors to extend the Boyd Big Tree Preserve further east on the ridge and aimed to follow this example. That goal was achieved almost 20 years later, and not only does it extend the preserve on the Kittatinny Ridge and protects the East Shore Darlington Trail, but it also connects the Boyd Big Tree Preserve to a major access point and future trailhead, Hocker Park, owned by Lower Paxton Township. The park is located on the ridgetop just off of Blue Mountain Parkway, the road that connects Linglestown Rd. to Fishing Creek Valley Rd. Now, recreationists will be able to enter the Boyd Preserve from the ridgeline and enjoy convenient access to novel acreage of open space within this vulnerable landscape.

In additional to the Spangler’s donation of part of the value of the tract, CPC received generous grant awards from DCNR’s Bureau of Recreation and Conservation’s Keystone Recreation, Park and Conservation Fund for land trusts; the Alexander Boyd and Jane Starke Boyd Charitable Foundation; and, The Nature Conservancy—PA Chapter, as it falls within a top tier priority area for protection of the Kittatinny Ridge corridor. CPC extends its gratitude to these generous funding sources, which it relies upon to achieve its land protection goals.

The grant agreement ensures that CPC will work in partnership with Lower Paxton Township and other partners to install sufficient signage at the trailhead and maintain the 2-mile “Janie Trail” or East Shore Darlington Trail on the ridge that connects to the state conservation area prior to transfer. CPC looks forward to collaborating with their partner, Susquehanna Appalachian Trail Club (SATC), on volunteer trail maintenance.