The Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) purchased two islands in the Susquehanna River in Harrisburg recently: Independence Island and Bailey’s Island. Purchased for $160,000 from former owners (and brothers) Robert and John Ensminger, whose family owned the islands for generations, DCNR plans to maintain the current wild and undeveloped islands as conserved forest areas.

The two islands lie alongside downtown Harrisburg near the Harvey Taylor Bridge. They have been available for public use by boaters and kayakers for a long time, and DCNR intends to continue allowing for this public recreational boating usage, while preserving the wild forest coverage of the islands in perpetuity. These islands add to DCNR’s collection of hundreds of conserved island spaces in the wide Susquehanna River.

Historically, Independence Island has long been a popular local spot for swimmers and boaters, stretching back over a hundred years. A pavilion once stood on Independence Island, but now there are no longer any man-made structures remaining on either island.

Representatives from the Bureau of Forestry extolled the virtues of river island conservation for forest preservation, wildlife habitat preservation, scenic beauty, and more.