The upcoming Pennsylvania Land Conservation Conference (April 26-28, Reading) allows attendees the chance to engage in mobile seminars to tour conservation projects (land conservation, agribusiness, watershed restoration, trails, and more) all over Berks County and the City of Reading.
Wednesday Mobile Seminars (April 26)
Agrotourism in the Boyertown Area (10AM-4:30PM, includes lunch) (PRPS CEUs)
Discover the unique agriculture and agrotourism in the Boyertown area. Conservation best management practices and sustainability will be highlighted, as well as spotted lanternfly research. Participants will learn about diversifying operations and adapting to new technologies, crops, and consumer preferences and how these fit with existing operations and the history of the region. Attendees should bring appropriate outerwear and footwear for the physical activity of riding the railbikes. This tour includes a rail bike excursion. Rail bikes are people-powered and require peddling. [Eligible for .4 PRPS CEUs]
Tour stops include:
Wild Fox Farm: CBD and hemp production on an organic farm that also operates a CSA.
Butter Valley Harvest: A hydroponic vegetable facility on an existing family farm.
Colebrookdale Railroad: A scenic railroad partnering with local businesses and farms to revitalize the area’s tourism. Includes lunch and rail biking through the forest.
Manatawny Creek Winery: A winery that still grows its own grapes and is a hub for spotted lanternfly research. Includes optional winetasting.
Landscape Scale Conservation in Southern Berks County (NOON-4:30PM, includes lunch) (PRPS CEUs)
Participants will explore the forests, fields, and farmlands of landscape-scale conservation efforts converging in Southern Berks County, including the Highlands Region, Hopewell Big Woods and the Delaware River Watershed Initiative. Hike a portion of the Horse-Shoe Trail and tour a fruit farm. Along the way, attendees will learn about multiple strategies used for land and water protection in this region through federal, state, county, and private funding programs. [Eligible for .3 PRPS CEUs]
Tour stops include:
Weavers Orchard: Have lunch while learning about the orchard’s position as a node in Berks County’s ag economy. After lunch participants will walk to adjoining property to learn about restoration projects and easements in the DRWI Schuylkill Highlands cluster.
Drive by Love Farm. Speakers will cover the Love Farm restoration project.
Buck Hollow. Includes an introduction to the site, as well as a guided hike to and along the Horse-Shoe Trail. Participants will hear about site management and the importance of forested headwaters for maintaining and improving water quality.
Drive by other points of interest. Including an emerging land protection cluster around Gibraltar Hill, with context from presenters.
Stormwater and Source Water Protection in Berks County (NOON-4PM, includes lunch) (PRPS CEUs)
Kent Himelright, watershed specialist with Berks County Conservation District, and Larry Lloyd, Senior Ecologist with Berks Nature, will lead participants on an adventure as they highlight exceptional stormwater and source water protection projects in Berks County. [Eligible for .275 PRPS CEUs]
Tour stops include:
Papermill Dam, located at Cacoosing creek (slated for removal to restore and enhance habitat). Participants will hear from American Rivers, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, and Berks Nature regarding the dam removal process and the corresponding benefits to water quality, wildlife habitat, aquatic passage, and stormwater capacity.
Kreider Family property. Presenters from Stroud Water Research Center and the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) will join us to discuss work completed on the property, and the benefits of the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) and the Farm Stewardship Program. A brief walking tour will highlight implemented best management practices.
Wilson West School. Participants will tour a stream restoration project on the Little Cacoosing Creek. The project addressed channel instability and anthropogenic channel alterations by removing floodplain legacy sediments and restoring stream flow to historical channels; it also enhanced hydrological connections to precolonial hydrologic soils, and increased floodplain capacity. Inherited by Lower Heidelberg Township, the project is part of their overall MS4 Pollution Reduction Plan.
Friday Mobile Seminar (April 28)
Forests and Trails of the Reading Prong (PRPS CEUs)
Attendees will travel to the forested mountains of Berks County’s ‘Reading Prong’ section of the New England Province. Visitors will learn about the ecological significance of the prong, as well as the partnerships that have formed to protect and preserve its natural diversity. Through an interconnected system of trails and shared stewardship, the area has become a hub of eco-tourism. This tour includes an extensive amount of walking and many trails are not ADA accessible. [Eligible for .2 PRPS CEUs]
Tour stops include:
Mount Penn Preserve and the landmark Pagoda. Speakers will discuss the creation of the MP3: a non-profit organization formed by local municipalities to jointly ‘protect, promote, and enhance the natural beauty, heritage, and attractions of the Preserve.’
Antietam Lake Park. Owned and managed by Berks County’s Park & Recreation Department, this 643-acre park (pictured, right) contains numerous trails and amenities.
Angora Fruit Farm to Antietam Reservoir. Participants will take a ~.4-mile hike (dirt/stone) and learn about the development of the site’s master plan.
Bus ride along the former Gravity Railroad route to Egelman’s Park. Eat lunch in one of the historic pavilions.
Berks Nature’s Neversink Mountain Preserve. Participants will hike ~.5-mile up a somewhat steep trail (paved), while learning about the Greater Reading Trails Partnership. This partnership was formed to enhance the public greenways and recreational opportunities within the region.
Thanks to our hosts:
WeConservePA would like to recognize our hosts for the 2023 Pennsylvania Land Conservation Conference: