Surrounded by a forest full of chestnut oak, sassafras, and mountain laurel, and the fresh mountain air at the Witmer’s property in Jefferson Township, you would never know that the world is enduring a pandemic. Despite this time of social distancing, the Witmer family, Manada Conservancy, and the Ward Burton Wildlife Foundation were able to work cooperatively, with a little help from Zoom, to permanently protect 89 acres of woodland.

Completion of this conservation easement project marks another success for Fort Indiantown Gap’s Army Compatible Use Buffer (ACUB) program that seeks to preserve high priority conservation land near military facilities in an effort to avoid nearby uses that would be incompatible with their training. FIG’s need for dark skies and limited development around the military base mesh with our priority to protect land on the Kittatinny Ridge and surrounding area due to its high conservation value. In Brenda Witmer’s words, “It’s everything we believe in” –aware that they are both furthering a conservation mission and a military mission.

As development pressure never seems to cease, preserving this land not only helps to protect the water quality of Clarks Creek but also ensures a reprieve for wildlife; the black bear, deer, bobcat, and many others that call this area home. Contiguous with another Manada Conservancy preserved property, this project helps to fulfill our goal of piecing together a corridor of protected land on the Kittatinny Ridge, recognized around the globe as an important migratory flyway and climate resilient landscape.