by Brad Barkdoll, WeConservePA Advocacy Manager

WeConservePA’s Advocacy Manager Brad Barkdoll, along with staff from the Central Pennsylvania Conservancy, engaged with local elected officials and their staff on August 23, 2023, at Central Pennsylvania Conservancy’s Letort Spring Garden Preserve. Staff were accompanied by: Cumberland County Commissioner Jean Foschi; South Middletown Township Manager Shelly Capozzi and Director of Parks & Recreation Sarah Colondrillo; and staff from State Representative Barbara Gleim, Tom Kutz, and Torren Ecker’s offices.

Acquired by the Conservancy in 2018, the 40-acre former watercress farm features a variety of outdoor spaces, including: forested lands, meadows, wetlands, and stream habitats. With its growing network of trails, the preserve connects visitors to a variety of different habitats, as well as the historic Melester Barn & springhouse. The preserve itself is part of a broader conservation and recreational effort along the Letort Spring Run, and includes lands owned and managed by Cumberland Valley Trout Unlimited, Letort Regional Authority, Carlisle Borough, and South Middletown Township. By leveraging state and private dollars, the Central Pennsylvania Conservancy has been able to hold, manage, and steward the preserve to ensure optimal public recreation benefits while beautifully conserving the landscape.

Walking the grounds of the tour, guests were fully immersed in the natural scenic beauty of the Preserve, where a multitude of springs fed into the wetlands, creating optimal habitat for local biodiversity. Guests we also greeted by a series of wildlife, from a flock of turkey to a water snake den expertly nestled along the edge of the once active watercress field. Bisecting the Preserve is the roughly two-mile long Letort Spring Run Nature Trail. Upon completion of the one-mile extension to Heisers Land in South Middletown Township, the trail will extend towards Boiling Springs, the Appalachian Trail, and the Yellow Breeches Creek, creating a broader connectivity of the trail system in Cumberland County.