Photo: Jenn Teson

The Lancaster Conservancy announced its acquisition of 270 acres of forested land in Lower Chanceford Township, within the Susquehanna Riverlands Conservation Landscape. This new preserve will be named after the family that owned and cared for the land for over 100 years, the Reist family. The Conservancy worked with the family and conservation partners, including the Farm and Natural Lands Trust of York, for almost a decade to permanently protect this special place. The Conservancy has begun an intensive management planning process and hopes to formally open the new Reist Nature Preserve to the public in the next few years.

Funding for the purchase of this tract was secured through the PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR), with matching funds from the York County Open Space and Land Protection Grant Program, The Conservation Fund, the Reist family, and other private donors. “The York County Open Space and Land Preservation Program provided matching grant funds for the Reist Nature Preserve. The program priorities include protecting working agricultural properties, natural resources, and recreational open space,” said President Commissioner Julie Wheeler. “The Reist property is an excellent example of a property rich with natural resources that make it worthy of protection. This is important, not only for our current York County residents to enjoy, but to ensure the on-going protection of our natural resources for all future generations.”

The new Reist Nature Preserve connects to an over 1,000 acre corridor of contiguously protected natural lands that include Susquehannock State Park, State Game Lands #181, and Brookfield Renewable land donated to the Conservancy as part of a large landscape protection effort. The new preserve includes an important part of the viewshed across Lake Aldred from popular Conservancy preserves like Tucquan Glen & Pyfer, House Rock, Reed Run, and Pinnacle Overlook. “The Susquehanna Riverlands is a top-notch outdoor playground,” said Kyle Shenk, Northeast Regional Director of The Conservation Fund. “It’s a joy to support the Conservancy’s vision with the addition of the Reist Nature Preserve.”

Reist Nature Preserve resides in the DCNR Susquehanna Riverlands Conservation Landscape for which the Conservancy serves as the community lead, helping to protect, enhance, and grow economic initiatives within the landscape. “DCNR is pleased to partner with the Lancaster Conservancy to conserve this regionally significant property in the Susquehanna Riverlands Conservation Landscape that will provide a unique area of public open space connecting to Susquehannock State Park, and play a big role in addressing the watershed’s resiliency and pollution absorbing capacity,” said DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn. “This property will safeguard wildlife habitat, provide new recreation opportunities, and protect the waters of Pennsylvania and the Chesapeake Bay.”

Photo: Jenn Teson

The Reist Nature Preserve provides important natural habitat for birds, amphibians, reptiles, and other wildlife, and contains nearly a mile of Counselman Run, a scenic and vital headwaters stream, that cascades through the property into the Susquehanna River. Its scenic and steep sloped forests are home to beautiful stands of tulip poplars, maple, hemlock, and oak, with a lush understory ranging from ferns and ephemerals to mountain laurel.

“Large wooded parcels of privately owned land are rare,” said Conservancy President Phil Wenger. “Chris Reist, along with his brothers Joel and Hans, was instrumental in caring for and then permanently protecting this treasured natural place. I first explored these rocky outcroppings, amazing streams, and mature forests on the banks of the Susquehanna 40 years ago. Today, we are blessed to protect this iconic land for our community, forever.”

The Lancaster Conservancy is grateful to all the partners who work together on the Susquehanna Riverlands Conservation Landscape and is committed to stewarding its nature preserves for public enjoyment, habitat, and natural sustainability.