On September 3, 2020, Central Pennsylvania Conservancy purchased 404 acres of ridge and forest land along Peters Mountain in Middle Paxton Township, Dauphin County. The newly acquired parcel adjoins DCNR’s Joe Ibberson Conservation Area and State Gamelands #211, and it contains the historic Victoria Trail. This acquisition is intended for future transfer to adjoining public lands owned by the PA Game Commission (SGL #211) and the National Park Service (Appalachian National Scenic Trail Corridor). This project received critical financial assistance from the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources’ Keystone Recreation, Park, and Conservation Fund. It is also funded by a generous donation in value by Flemish Down LLC, former owners committed to protecting Clarks Creek Valley and Peters Mountain.
With this project, CPC expands the protection of the Peters Mountain landscape, eliminating prospects for new development on the mountain as Dauphin County and Harrisburg continue to grow. It preserves views and recreational opportunities, both hiking and hunting, while protecting forestland, wildlife habitat, and water resources, including a natural spring used by hikers on the Appalachian Trail.
The popular Peters Mountain shelter is located on the ridge of the acquired property. Built in 1994, the shelter accommodates up to 20 people and replaced the original Earl Shaffer shelter, which is now in the Appalachian Trail Museum at Pine Grove Furnace State Park. Earl Shaffer was the first northbound AT thru-hiker in 1948 and the first southbound thru-hiker in 1965. A natural spring providing a water source to hikers is located down a steep trail of over 300 stone steps below the shelter on the north side.
“This is CPC’s second bargain sale project with landowner Flemish Down, a family committed to preserving Clark’s Creek Valley for future generations,” says Anna Yelk, CPC’s executive director. The first project was the 27-acre Bailey’s Grove Fishing Access and Natural Area. Initially donated by Flemish Down in 2010, CPC transferred the property to the PA Fish & Boat Commission. That project opened up one mile of public access to Clarks Creek, a designated High Quality Coldwater Fishery and popular site among anglers and kayakers. Barely 3 miles away lies the current Peters Mountain parcel. Rising 1,000 feet above Clarks Creek, this acquisition will open up 404 acres for public use in perpetuity.
“Our family owned and took care of this land since early in the last century. We are happy and proud that, from now on, it will be open to the public, thanks to the forward-thinking work of the Central Pennsylvania Conservancy, the State Game Commission, and the National Park Service. We hope hunters, hikers, nature lovers and bird watchers flock to this land, forever enjoying the beauty of the forest and the majestic views it affords of both Clarks Valley and Powells Valley.”— Michael Blum, Manager, Flemish Down, LLC
“I know my parents would have been delighted by this project. From my father laying out maps of Peters mountain on a table, to my mother leading groups of Girl Scouts on the Appalachian Trail, to a family story of my grandmother handing out snake-bite kits to workers up on the mountain, our property on Peters Mountain has been important to my family. Now it can be enjoyed by all for many years to come.”— Annette Alger Cameron Blum, Member, Flemish Down, LLC
“This property’s many conservation values add up to an especially high return for the public. Joe Ibberson would have been thrilled about this. Joe was a friend of mine, and long ago he and I had sat together on the northern stretch of the Victorian Trail, on his property that ended up becoming Pennsylvania’s first Conservation Area, and talked about adding this part of Flemish Down to his own public lands conservation legacy. Well, we did it, Joe, thanks to Flemish Down, DCNR, and CPC.”
— Josh First, President, Appalachian Land & Conservation Services LLC
Central PA Conservancy members and volunteers are in the process of completing more acquisitions, transfers, and conservation easements to secure other natural areas and public lands. You can contribute or help by becoming a member. CPC is a 501(c)3 land trust committed to conserving natural resources for the benefit of current and future generations through land acquisition, conservation easements, and outreach. CPC serves Cumberland, Perry, Franklin, Dauphin, and Juniata counties from offices in Carlisle.