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Berks County Conservancy
In 2012, the Berks County Conservancy permanently protected the 170-acre Gehman property and received an OSI grant of $14,021. The Gehman tract is the largest, forested private property in the Oley Hills region of Pennsylvania’s Schuylkill Highlands. The Oley Hills, encompassing over 27,000 acres, is one of the largest undisturbed forests in Berks County. Recognized in federal, state, and county conservation plans, the Oley Hills has been designated a Critical Treasure by the Highlands Coalition and includes Berks County's most pristine watershed area, forming the headwaters of six state-designated “Exceptional Value” streams. Protection of the 170-acre property will safeguard the headwaters of Upper Saucony Creek, a tributary to Maiden Creek which supplies drinking water to the Borough of Kutztown and the City of Reading. The property adjoins a previously preserved 256-acre tract and contributes to a network of protected properties totaling 1,555 acres.
Oley Hills - Gehman Property
Pike and Rockland Townships, Berks County, PA
Lancaster County Conservancy
Welsh Mountain Preserve, 408 acres
East Earl and Salisbury Townships, Lancaster County, PA
The Welsh Mountain Preserve project is part of an assemblage of 1,179 preserved acres and has been supported with multiple grants from the state and the county, East Earl and Caernarvon Townships and donations from individuals and foundations.
In 2011, the Lancaster County Conservancy (LCC) permanently protected 408 acres of forest on Welsh Mountain with an OSI grant of $250,000. Rising over 1,000 feet in eastern Lancaster County and western Chester County, Welsh Mountain contains the second largest contiguous forest in Lancaster County providing scenic views of the highly productive farmland in the valleys below. The waterways of Welsh Mountain feed the Chesapeake Bay, and also provide groundwater recharge for the headwaters of Mill Creek and numerous vernal ponds. There is habitat including deep forest breeding grounds for neo-tropical migratory songbirds. The acquisition will offer public access through what will become LCC’s Welsh Mountain Preserve. Lancaster County Conservancy.
Welsh Mountain Preserve: Phase 4
32 acres, Lancaster County
East Earl and Salisbury Townships
In June 2013, the Lancaster County Conservancy expanded Welsh Mountain Preserve by acquiring two wooded parcels totaling 32 acres in East Earl and Salisbury Townships. These properties are inholdings surrounded by over 1,100 acres of protected forest. Protecting these lands will prevent fragmentation of a core forest from development.
Lancaster Farmland Trust,
Agricultural Easements on Lancaster County Farms
From 2011 through 2013, Lancaster Farmland Trust acquired agricultural easements on five farms, partially funded by an OSI loan of $234,175 to permanently protect 282 acres in the northeastern Lancaster County farm belt around Welsh Mountain. To help LFT leverage additional private contributions to the project, 50 percent of the loan was designed to be converted to a grant as funding-raising targets were met.
LFT works primarily with traditional Amish and Mennonite farmers and has preserved 362 farms encompassing almost 23,000 acres in Lancaster County. Lancaster County farmers grow and raise food for over 26 million people each year. Lancaster County farmland also plays a key role in the health of local and regional watersheds. Water flowing from the forests of the Highlands and the headwaters of Welsh Mountain pass through these agricultural lands before making their way to the Susquehanna River and the Chesapeake Bay. Every acre of undeveloped farmland can provide 400,000 gallons of groundwater recharge each year.
Salisbury Township, Lancaster County
In December 2012, Lancaster Farmland Trust protected the 98-acre Fisher Farm with an agricultural easement and an OSI grant of $52,639. The farm is large for Lancaster County and has over 50% prime statewide important agricultural soils and borders a tributary of the Pequea Creek. The Fishers operate a dairy and grow corn, soybeans and alfalfa. A Farm Conservation Plan protects water quality in the stream through best management practices.
Stoltzfoos Farm Phase 1
Strasburg Township, Lancaster County
In December 2012, Lancaster Farmland Trust protected with an agricultural easement partially funded through a Bayshore-Highlands grant of $43,020, the 73-acre Stoltzfoos dairy farm that grows crops of corn and alfalfa. Stoltzfoos I farm has over 50% prime or statewide important agricultural soils, adjoins other preserved farms and includes a tributary of the Pequea Creek. A Farm Conservation Plan protects water quality in the streams and the landowner has implemented a variety of best management practices including stream bank fencing, no-till farming and strip cropping.
92 acres Eden Township, Lancaster County
In February 2013, the Lancaster Farmland Trust acquired an agricultural easement on the Beiler farm, a 92-acre Amish dairy farm. The farm is adjacent to other preserved farms and borders two tributaries of the Octoraro Creek. The farm produces milk, corn, hay, tobacco and other field crops.
Natural Lands Trust
Hopewell Big Woods
Warwick Township, Chester County, PA
In July 2013, Natural Lands Trust acquired the small but important 4.4-acre Henderson parcel, partially funded by a $49,260 grant. The Henderson tract lies within the 74,000-acre Hopewell Big Woods focus area and provides the only trail access on the east side of the 6,000-acre French Creek State Park and affords critical access for firefighting equipment. The property will be owned and managed by the Park.
McCarthy Easement, 82 acres
Springfield Township, Bucks County, PA
In December 2012, the Heritage Conservancy protected the 82-acre McCarthy property with a conservation easement in Springfield Township, Bucks County, PA funded by a grant for $53,448 from OSI’s Bayshore-Highlands Fund. The property is within the Northampton Highlands focus area. The site includes a wooded stream corridor of an unnamed tributary of the Cook’s Creek, a State designated Exceptional Value (EV) stream. The easement protects and buffers the Cooks Creek from sediment and pesticide runoff by limiting the scope of agricultural uses on the property. The woodland is flanked on either side by agricultural fields and hedgerows. Heritage Conservancy obtained funding from the Bucks County Natural Areas Program, Springfield Township and a bargain sale donation by the landowner to match OSI’s funding.
35 acres Springfield Township,
Bucks County, PA
In August 2013, Heritage Conservancy acquired an easement on 32 acres of the 291-acre Metzger farm. The easement protects headwaters of the Cooks Creek, a PA designated Exceptional Value, Cold Water Fisheries stream by limiting tillage and other farming practices, buffering the stream from agriculture on the adjoining preserved farm. Coordinating the use of agricultural easements with conservation easements is an innovative way to achieve the best sustainable balance of land uses and resource protection. The remainder of funding for acquisition of the easement was provided by Springfield Township and included a bargain sale donation by the landowner. This small transaction was integral to the earlier preservation of the adjoining Metzger Farm. The ability of HC to find a way to fund protection of this environmentally sensitive parcel through the Bayshore-Highlands Fundencouraged landowners to proceed with protecting the larger adjacent farm with an agricultural easement.
French and Pickering Conservation Trust
Nestorick/Heilner Farms Easements
East Nantmeal Township, Chester County, PA
In 2013, the French and Pickering Creek Conservation Trust protected with agricultural easements a total of 96 acres of the adjoining Nestorick and Heilner farms, partially funded by an OSI grant of $106,000. These multi-generation farms produce grass-fed longhorn beef, goat’s milk, hay and row crops. The Nestorick “Why Not Farm” includes a farm market operation. Both farms border Hopewell Big Woods, buffering its southern boundary from development. A Farm Conservation Plan will help protect water quality in a headwater stream flowing into the nearby Great Marsh, noted as the most biologically rich inland freshwater marsh in eastern Pennsylvania, home to 155 bird species. Other funding for the project was supplied by Chester County’s’ new Northern Conservation Initiative that targets preserving lands critical for watershed protection.
Montgomery County Lands Trust
The Montgomery County Lands Trust received an $150,000 grant to acquire an 81-acre property in the Unami Hills in 2012. Characterized by steep forested slopes, dramatic diabase boulders, streams, floodplains and wetlands, the Unami Hills is a 16,000-acre block of contiguous woodlands. The area provides breeding habitat for 176 neotropical migrant birds and has been designated Important Bird Area by the Audubon Society.
Unami Hills - 81 Acres Addition
Upper Salford and Marlborough Townships, Montgomery County, PA
This site has been a top conservation priority for years. In 2001, the Unami Creek Valleys Landscape Conservation Plan designated the property as a “critical parcel” for habitat conservation. The property includes portions of two high quality streams, the Unami Creek and the Ridge Valley Creek, which converge on the property. The property may become a future trailhead for the 19-mile Perkiomen Trail, part of a major regional trail network with 400,000 annual users.
In addition to its conservation significance, the acquisition includes the Daniel Heister House, a historic house built in 1757 which MCLT subdivided to be used for historic purposes. The remaining 78 acres of the property will be manged as a private NLT preserve by the Natural Lands Trust. In addition to OSI funding, MCLT has secured funding for the Rogers acquisition from Montgomery County, Pennsylvania Division of Conservation and Natural Resources and private fundraising.
The Natural Lands Trust
Burden Hill Preserve Addition
Quinton Township, Salem County, NJ
In 2011, the Natural Lands Trust protected 50 acres of forested wetlands, partially funded by a $20,000 OSI grant covering transaction costs. Addition of this parcel will expand the size of NLT’s Burden Hill Preserve to 791 acres. The site is representative of the Burden Hill forest, a 14,000-acre forested wetland landscape in Salem County. New Jersey’s Wildlife Action Plan identifies the Burden Hill Forest as a conservation priority in the Delaware-Bayshore because of its high quality interior forests and wetlands. Studies funded by the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation have verified numerous rare species in this area, including the federally listed Swamp Pink and State-endangered Allegheny Chinquapin. Burden Hill is also home to state-listed wildlife including reptiles and amphibians, red-headed woodpeckers, the state-threatened barred owl and some of the state’s largest populations of nesting red-shouldered hawks. Several vernal ponds – locally known as “spungs” – are located on the property.
Additional funding for the project has been secured a nonprofit grant from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Green Acres Program. In addition, the conservation-minded landowner is making a donation. Notably, the landowner will retain a seven-acre parcel that includes his home, with lifetime deer and turkey rights on the protected parcel, Retention of hunting rights is important to landowners in the Bayshore region and this project represents an innovative model which may interest local landowners in land conservation.
Natural Lands Trust
Sheppard’s Mill Girl Scout Camp
Greenwich and Hopewell Townships, Cumberland County, NJ
The Natural Lands Trust (NLT) has been approved for a grant of $235,000 for the preservation of the 405-acre Sheppard’s Mill Girl Scout Camp, located in the Cohansey River watershed, which is mostly wooded and includes a 52-acre impoundment lake. The lake provides an important foraging and roosting area for bald eagles. Surrounds forest, streams and wetlands provide critical habitat for river otters and other rare wildlife, including the state-listed barred owl and marbled salamander. The property is covered by diverse coastal plain forest including oak/pine woodlands, American holly and areas of Atlantic white cedar with a native understory of mountain laurel, high and low-bush blueberry, sweet pepperbush, sweet bay magnolia and other species.
NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife’s Wildlife Action Plan cites the area as a conservation zone in the Delaware-Bayshore’s landscape region for its importance to southern New Jersey’s forest-interior wildlife populations. The property itself is a priority for protection in Cumberland County’s Open Space Plan. Once acquired, the property will be transferred to NJDEP Division of Fish and Wildlife to expand the 819-acre Cohansey River Wildlife Management Area. Preservation as public open space will facilitate a variety of recreational uses: hunting, fishing, boating, swimming for township residents in the beach area and recreational hiking and bird-watching. A six-acre portion of the property is to be transferred to Greenwich Township for a swimming beach.
Natural Lands Trust
Country Meadows addition to Howard Peek Preserve
City of Millville, Cumberland County, NJ
In November 2013, Natural Lands Trust protected the County Meadows property, 88 acres of freshwater tidal marsh and uplands on the Maurice River partially funded by a $48,566 grant. The property includes one of the most intact and healthy wild rice marshes on the entire Delaware-Bayshore region, along with adjacent red maple and white cedar swamp and oak/pine uplands. The site provides important habitat for bald eagles and ospreys nesting nearby and migratory songbirds, shorebirds and waterfowl. The property will expand NLTs adjoining 256-acre Howard Peek Preserve and will be managed by NLT staff. NLT will extend public access trails from the Peek Preserve for passive recreation and nature study.
American Littoral Society
Barrett’s Run, 132 acres
Bridgton, Hopewell Township, Cumberland County, NJ
In 2013, the American Littoral Society protected 132 acres on Barrett’s Run, a headwater stream of the Upper Cohansey River. The site adjoins a school and the 1,100-acre Bridgeton City Park which serves an underprivileged community with trails and recreational land. The acquisition was partially funded by a $300,000 grant. The site protects the stream corridor, riparian wetlands, forest and agricultural land. Preservation will facilitate best management practices on the land to improve water quality the Barrett’s Run, Sunset and Mary Elmer Lakes and the Cohansey River downstream. It is significant that this land protection project helped engage several Bayshore communities who had never participated in open space preservation with state funds. The City of Bridgeton, Hopewell Township and Cumberland County all accessed NJ Green Acres grants for the first time to help acquire this tract.
New Jersey Conservation Foundation
Adamucci Farm, 48 acres
Hopewell Township, Cumberland County, NJ
In 2012, the New Jersey Conservation Foundation acquired an agricultural easement on the 48-acre Adamucci Farm with a $57,800 OSI grant. The farm is located on an elevated bluff overlooking a tidal marsh on the scenic north shore of Cohansey River, known as Dutch Neck and includes 20 high- quality farms that will be part a greenway along the river. The Adamucci farm is part of a landscape mosaic of farms and woodlands along the river which provides wildlife habitat for bald eagles, osprey, and state-listed grassland birds, migratory shorebirds and other wildlife.
NJCF received additional funding required for preservation of the Adamucci Farm through a federal Farm and Ranchland Preservation Program grant and County of Cumberland Farmland Preservation Funds obtained from State Agriculture Development Committee. OSI funding thorough the Bayshore-Highlands Fund helped leverage the Cumberland County share.
D&R Greenway Land Trust
Carpenter Farms Phase I, 67 acres
Mannington Township, Salem County NJ
In 2013, D&R Greenway Land Trust protected 67 acres with an agricultural easement in the Mannington Meadows focus area. This was part of a 2-phase project to preserve two neighboring Carpenter family farms as part of an assemblage begun several years ago with the nearby 200-acre Carpenter family farm which has been owned the same family since the 1730s. The easement purchase was partially funded by a $64,162 grant. The Carpenter farms are part of several thousand acres of protected farmland in Mannington Township, known as one of the richest, most diverse and intensive farming areas on the NJ Bayshore. The farm borders and protects freshwater marshlands of Mannington creek which provides important habitat for locally nesting bald eagles, migratory shorebirds, waterfowl and other wildlife. The Carpenter farm is nearly contiguous with the 2,000-acre Seabrook Farms assemblage – the largest single agricultural preservation project in southern NJ.
The Nature Conservancy
Diocese of Camden Project Description
City of Vineland, Cumberland County, NJ
In 2011, The Nature Conservancy acquired two adjoining parcels totaling 318 acres from the Diocese of Camden, in two phases partly funded by a $200,000 grant. These acquisitions completed TNC’s three-phase purchase of land from the Diocese that will protect 492 contiguous acres. The Diocese properties will connect two arms of the state’s 25,000-acre Peaslee Wildlife Management Area. The project will add to nearly 5,000 acres of existing preserves in the Maurice River system, including the 3,672-acre Manumuskin River Preserve. The Manumuskin watershed is characterized by intact oak-pine and white cedar forest and borders working farmland and small rural communities.
This assemblage of forested parcels protects the headwaters of the Manumuskin River, a tributary to the Maurice River, a federally designated Wild and Scenic River and one of the most pristine freshwater systems in the state. The project also harbors a wide variety of rare plant communities, wildlife including state-listed reptiles and amphibians and an array of migrating and breeding birds including state-listed species such as bald eagle, red-headed woodpecker and barred owl. The NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife Action Plan cites this area as a targeted conservation zone in the Delaware-Bayshore landscape, important for forest-interior wildlife populations, wetlands and water quality.
The Nature Conservancy
Formicola 2 & 3, 100 acres
Additions to Lummis Pond Preserve
Lawrence Township, Cumberland County NJ
In 2013, TNC completed two adjoining preservation projects in the Fund’s Maurice River focus area. The projects, totally over 100 acres, protect bottomland forest and wetlands in the headwaters of the Cedar Creek, a tributary to Delaware Bay on the border of the Wild and Scenic Maurice River watershed. The two acquisitions will be added to the 1,300-acre Lummis Pond Preserve which protects populations of federally endangered swamp pink and many rare and listed wildlife including bald eagles, barred owls, red shouldered hawks, rare amphibians and reptiles.