One of the most important natural areas in Pennsylvania, the Kittatinny Ridge, will soon benefit from an additional 1,100 acres of protected land within its borders to help conserve important habitats for native species, reinforce climate resiliency and protect the irreplaceable views and hiking experience on the Appalachian Trail (A.T.).
In an effort led by The Nature Conservancy and directly supported by the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) and the A.T. Landscape Partnership, this new acreage will be added to the Cove Mountain Preserve in Perry County, Pennsylvania, protecting a fragile landscape that has been targeted for potential development in recent years.
“The expansion of the Cove Mountain Preserve along the Kittatinny Ridge will create a 14-mile stretch of protected land that will be managed in support of forest health, climate resilience and wildlife habitat, providing a critical forest corridor for migratory birds and other animals,” said Mari-Beth DeLucia, Land Conservation Manager for The Nature Conservancy in Pennsylvania and Delaware. “Just outside of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, the land will increase outdoor recreational opportunities, with trails on Cove Mountain and Pennsylvania state game lands connecting to the Appalachian Trail.”
The Kittatinny Ridge is the core of the most significant bird and butterfly migration corridor in the northeastern U.S., making its fall raptor migration a world-famous phenomenon. Beyond habitat protection, the ATC estimates that the Cove Mountain Preserve addition will help conserve multiple scenic views from the A.T. on Peters Mountain, including views of the Susquehanna River and Cove Mountain. The expansion will also help fulfill the ATC’s goal of further reinforcing the Trail and its surrounding lands as a climate-resilient corridor, helping to mitigate the growing effects of climate change along the A.T. and beyond by ensuring Appalachian forests remain connected and healthy.
“The Appalachian Trail Conservancy is proud to partner with The Nature Conservancy to conserve this important part of the Appalachian Trail landscape, helping to reinforce protections for the Kittatinny Ridge,” said Sandra Marra, President and CEO of the ATC. “The conservation of this area is key not only for maintaining the world-class hiking experience the A.T. provides, but also in maintaining the health and quality of the ecology surrounding the Trail.”
The ATC contributed $100,000 toward the Cove Mountain Preserve expansion through its Wild East Action Fund, which provides funding for projects that will help further the protection of fragile Appalachian natural resources.
The A.T. Landscape Partnership, co-led by the ATC and the National Park Service, includes close to 100 conservation partners from Maine to Georgia dedicated to greater A.T. protection. To learn more about the ATC’s landscape protection efforts and the A.T. Landscape Partnership, visit appalachiantrail.org/landscape.