by Brad Barkdoll, WeConservePA Advocacy Manager
WeConservePA Advocacy Manager Brad Barkdoll, along with co-hosts Manada Conservancy, recently hosted a multi-site tour of several conservation areas in Dauphin County under easement with the conservancy. Along on the tour was State Representative Justin Fleming and a staff member from State Representative Joe Kerwin’s office.
The tour began with a visit to lands owned by the Laudenslager family. Partnering with the Manada Conservancy for over fifteen years, Murray and Rhonda Laudenslager donated a 100-acre conservation easement on their family farm as their first project with the conservancy. After a brief stop at the family farm, the tour continued on to what has been the Laudenslager’s largest collaborative project with the conservancy yet, Laudenslager Mountain. Funded in part through DCNR grants and conserving over 225-acres, this project protects pristine wetlands and upland forest on Peter’s Mountain in Wayne Township. Adjacent to this landscape is Peter’s Mountain Swamp, a Pennsylvania Natural Heritage Site, that was preserved by the conservancy through the US Fish and Wildlife Small Grant Program along with a matched donation by the landowner.
The second location on the tour is the Camp Small Valley Girl Scout camp. Bordered on the North by the Haldeman Tract of the Weiser State Forest and to the East by the Manada Conservancy protected Koerber Woodlands and Smith property, this 762-acre property serves as a fully operational girl scout camp, hosting hundreds of scouts over the summer months. This vast conservation area is home to wetlands, vernal ponds, the headwaters of two major streams, nesting habitat for songbirds, endangered mammal habitat, and a variety of plant species, making it a hot spot of natural resources. In addition to the scenic, habitat, and scout facility benefits, the property is also within the Kittatinny Migration Corridor and the viewing area of the Appalachian National Scenic Trail. Funded through the Keystone Fund and matching funds raised through the Conservancy, this easement allows over 300 acres to be open to the public for passive recreation.