As you cross the Schuylkill River traveling west on route 422 from Reading toward Pottstown, PA, two stunning landmarks rise above the horizon to the south: Gibraltar Hill and Seidel Hill. The first of these was conserved by Natural Lands in 2014. The second mountain, the 103-acre Seidel Hill, was just preserved at the end of February. Natural Lands purchased the land and transferred it to the PA Bureau of Forestry.
The Seidel property is located in Robeson Township, Berks County, just a few miles southeast of downtown Reading. When trees drop their leaves in winter, the hilltop provides stunning views of Reading and the surrounding area. Without protection, those views and Seidel Hill’s beautiful woodland habitat would have eventually been lost to development. A two-year conservation effort, led by Natural Lands and the PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR), brought together federal and state funds to purchase the property as an addition to the state forest system.
“Seidel Hill is a powerful, visible reminder of how important open spaces are to us all,” said Oliver Bass, Natural Lands’ president. “Under the Bureau of Forestry’s care, generations of Pennsylvanians will have the opportunity to explore its woods and enjoy the countless benefits of time spent in nature.” In 2015, Natural Lands brokered a similar conservation outcome for the nearby Gibraltar Hill, which also was purchased by the non-profit conservation organization and immediately transferred to the Bureau of Forestry’s William Penn Forest District.
“Never has the value of our state forestlands shined brighter than during this pandemic when more and more people are seeking out the calm of unspoiled places where streams flow clean and greenery abounds,” said DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn. “DCNR is proud to partner with Natural Lands to achieve yet another invaluable addition to its William Penn State Forest. It’s all here at Seidel Hill—watershed protection, stunning vistas, and increased public access protected for generations to come.”
The federal Highlands Conservation Act, a fund established to protect an almost unbroken band of forested hills running through Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania—including this portion of Berks County—provided leadership funding for the preservation of Seidel Hill. Seidel Hill lies within the Schuylkill Highlands, a DCNR-designated region at the nexus of two landscapes that have been prioritized for protection: the Highlands and the Schuylkill River Watershed. Allegheny Creek winds around the base of Seidel Hill to the west as it makes its way to the Schuylkill River. Seidel Creek flows to the eastern base of the hill. Both waterways are popular fishing
Funding for preservation of Gibraltar Hill was provided by the U.S. Forest Service through the Highlands Conservation Act and PA DCNR’s Community Conservation Partnership Program.