Pennsylvania Land Trust Association member, Manada Conservancy, announced in April 2020 that they successfully protected a property located in the Kittatinny Corridor in Lower Paxton Township, Dauphin County. Here’s Manada Conservancy’s story as told by their stewardship director, Mark Vibbert.
Forty years ago, a pair of landowners purchased a 30-acre homestead in Lower Paxton Township on the lower slopes of Blue Mountain. They did so with a promise to the former landowner that they would protect the land from future development.
“Ultimately, we met her, and assured her that we did not plan to develop the property. She sold it to us on the spot,” recalls one of the landowners. “She even said we could begin renovations before the sale was final, so by the time we signed the final papers the home was move-in ready.”
Despite offers from interested buyers over the years, the landowners have always felt a strong attraction to the property’s wooded hills and turn-of-the-century farmhouse.
Throughout the years, the family has accumulated many fond memories. During the years when they had horses, their nephews loved to ride on the network of trails crisscrossing the woods. The bounty of their land has been shared with neighbors and friends as well. The landowners have hosted “pickathons” on their property, yielding pint after pint of raspberries. The berries find their way into jams, pies and pancakes, and make a fresh topping for ice cream and breakfast cereal. Other friends enjoy the abundant wildlife, and a handful of them have been permitted to hunt deer. Bird watching, especially in the spring and fall when songbirds and raptors are migrating, has been an enjoyable pastime. In addition, one young man practices falconry on the land, hunting squirrels with his Red-tailed Hawk.
The landowners kept their promise for forty years and they intend for it to last. Their decision to work with Manada Conservancy to put a conservation easement on the property ensures that the land will be preserved in perpetuity. For Manada Conservancy, the decision to preserve this ecologically rich patch of woodland in an increasingly developed landscape was an easy one.
The property lies within the Kittatinny Corridor, a stretch of land that spans the state from New Jersey to Maryland and is a top conservation priority for the Kittatinny Ridge Coalition comprised of Audubon Pennsylvania, Appalachian Trail Conservancy, The Nature Conservancy, and a number of fellow land trusts throughout Pennsylvania, as well as federal, state, and county partners.
Thanks to the vision and commitment of the landowners, another piece of the Kittatinny Corridor has been preserved for future generations to enjoy.
Photograph by Mark Vibbert