WPC Protects Land Along French Creek

 The Western Pennsylvania Conservancy has permanently protected 66 acres in Rockdale Township, Crawford County, the Conservancy announced today.

Located downstream from another WPC-protected property, this property has approximately 1,600 feet of creek frontage along French Creek, one of the most ecologically significant waterways in the northeastern United States.

“The conservation of this property will help to protect French Creek, its water quality and aquatic life, and forestland along the creek,” said Thomas Saunders, WPC president and chief executive officer.

Niknar1_zpse05ae0baThe property includes a wetland and a forested, riparian buffer along the creek. Forested riparian corridors help to regulate the temperature of streams and create conditions that contribute to improved water quality and habitat for the federally endangered and threatened freshwater mussels and numerous fish species of special conservation concern in Pennsylvania that live in the watershed.

WPC purchased the land from the Niknar Sportsmen’s Club, which has owned the property since the 1950s. This property will be managed as a natural area and be open to the public for low-impact recreation, such as hunting, hiking and wildlife watching.

“The mission of the Niknar Sportsmen’s Club was to promote, foster and protect wildlife and natural resources, and encourage participation in recreational activities and sports,” said George Varzaly, president of Niknar Sportsmen’s Club, who now lives in Georgia. “Thanks to the Conservancy, we are able to uphold the original charter of the organization and keep the land natural forever.”

The acquisition was made possible through one family’s generous financial contribution in memory of their son and brother, Brad Barnes. Barnes, who lived in the area, was dedicated to conservation and to protecting endangered plants and animals. His family has conserved several ecologically significant properties in northwestern Pennsylvania with WPC in his memory. Funds from the estate of Helen B. Katz also contributed to this acquisition.

John F. Logue Conservation Easement Completed

December 16, 2014 – Another 109.5 acres in Lycoming County’s Cascade Township were conserved through the on-going support of our members and the generous donation by landowners Genevieve Neff Logue and Matthew and Kimberly (Logue) Smargiasso.

For decades, the Logues drove from their home in northwest Pennsylvania to Williamsport for family visits. During those visits, Genevieve and her late husband, John “Jack” F. Logue, Jr. – Williamsport natives – and their son Kevin, daughter Kim and son-in-law Matt, would sometimes head north to hike the former Charles and Catherine (McCrystal) Logue property. Jack provided the commentary about Cascade Twp. and childhood visits to this place—his grandparents’ farm.

Locating the homestead’s small stone foundation and a nearby spring, spotting the apple tree and lilac, admiring broad stone walls crafted by Irish Catholic hands, appreciating the wetlands, and taking in the long view at the top of Frymire Road were all part of the outings.

This lOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAand is where Jack’s father John F. Logue, Sr., his uncle Vincent Logue, and a special aunt Katherine Logue Kilby grew up. Cascade Twp. was a place where Jack’s extended family lived and gathered. It was a magical place for him, an only child who lived a long 25 miles away in the city of Williamsport. It was open space to ramble, observe, think, and daydream. It fed the soul and shaped the man.

It turned out he wasn’t the only one who loved that land. It has remained in the family as one contiguous tract thanks to his aunt Katherine first and then to Jack and Genevieve. Katherine and Jack seemed to share an unspoken “leave the surface alone” philosophy.

Legacy. That’s what prompted Kim and Matt to travel from Mercer County to the Northcentral Pennsylvania Conservancy (NPC) office to ask about conservation easements. Their first exposure to the easement concept came through more than 30 years of membership with the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy. (Sometimes conservancy organizations are working together and don’t even realize it!) Genevieve, who is 88 and no longer travels, was on board with the idea of a conservation easement…as long and Kim and Matt took the lead. And they did. Knowledge of options, a mission to conserve the tract as Kim’s father had done for decades, and respect for ancestry quickly gelled into a plan.

The rolling and irregular property has changed a bit over the decades. Stonewalls, a trademark of Irish homesteads in the area, still exist. However, the property is no longer recognizable as a farm. The fields have been gradually reverting to woodland. Trees have matured and some areas have always been wooded. The forest consists of a mixture of northern hardwoods, including beech, birch, cherry, oak and maple, and associated species. Some light timbering in one area was done in 2011 in accordance with the property’s Forest Stewardship Plan. A variety of ferns have grown; deer have prospered; a short walking trail was created.

The property contains several wetlands including an abandoned beaver pond that is now approximately five acre wetland. The property’s springs and wetlands contribute to an   un-named tributary of Wallis Run flowing through the property. Wallis Run is an EV (Exceptional Value) designated waterway in Pennsylvania. The water from this property eventually reaches the Chesapeake Bay, whose protection and restoration is a multi-state priority.

The family didn’t fully realize the significance of the water resources on their Lycoming County property until November 2014 when Kim and Matt joined NPC staff, interns, and the technical committee to walk the land and then discuss it. By conserving this property, the landowners aLogue-2014-6re helping to protect not only this region’s water quality but also that of the Susquehanna River and ultimately the Chesapeake Bay. During the meeting, NPC staff members were also able to relay to the landowners the importance of preventing erosion and siltation as well as overly compacted soil that can be caused by disturbances, including ATV use and horseback riding.

Before he died in 2009, John F. Logue, Jr. talked to Kim about his lucky life. He became a professional musician, mathematician, teacher, and computer programmer / systems analyst. Hearkening to his childhood appreciation of open space and with Genevieve’s willingness and capable assistance, he also added gentleman sheep farmer to the list. The Mercer County property grew to include fields, pastures, and woodlands with a ravine and small creek. It was an ideal setting for their kids and the neighborhood kids to explore, play, and embrace the natural world. And they did. And it shaped them too. The Logue family believes that this easement is yet another opportunity to inspire future generations to respect and appreciate the natural world.

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Northcentral Pennsylvania Conservancy ♦ PO Box 2083, Williamsport, PA 17703 ♦ 570.323.6222

Local Landowners Choose Preservation over Development

This fall two local landowners rejected plans they had made to subdivide their land into a housing development—choosing instead to preserve their 135-acre Highland Township farm through a conservation easement with the Land Conservancy of Adams County.

“We even went so far as to have all the surveying done and all the development plans drawn up,” said landowner Paul Davis. But Paul and his wife Julie found that by the time they received final approval to move ahead with their development, they weren’t so sure they wanted to go through with it. “We looked at each other and said, ‘We don’t want to do this anymore,’” Julie said. “We’re surrounded almost completely by preserved land, and the more we talked to the people who had preserved their property, the more we thought that’s what we wanted to do. We don’t want to look out and see houses—we want to see corn.”

An offhand comment by a friend started the Davises down the preservation path. “It was during our annual Super Bowl party,” Julie said. “We were talking about our plans for our land, and Mark Berg asked us, ‘Have you thought about the Land Conservancy?’ Then we learned that other couples who are friends of ours have their land preserved with the Land Conservancy also.”

Once they started thinking about it, the Davises found more reasons to preserve their land. “We started paying attention to things that were being printed about water quality, because one whole side of our farm borders on Marsh Creek,” Paul said. “We were concerned about what might happen to the creek if we developed the land.”

So the Davises contacted the Land Conservancy’s conservation coordinator, Sarah Kipp, to begin working on developing a conservation easement for their property. A conservation easement is a legally binding document attached to the property deed that spells out the kind and amount of development the landowner wants to allow on his or her land, forever.

The Davises learned that their farm was a perfect candidate for preservation. “The Land Conservancy has recognized the importance of preserving this property for many years, as its half-mile, forested border along Marsh Creek provides wildlife habitat and protects the creek’s water quality,” Kipp explained. “On top of that, this farm has excellent soils that are now permanently available for agricultural production, and it’s wedged between two other preserved farms, so this conservation easement resulted in the formation of a contiguous block of permanently protected lands. Protecting our water resources, our farmland, and our rural landscape are essential elements of our mission, and they all came together in this project.”

Paul Davis, a retired United Airlines pilot, bought his Highland Township farm in 1971 to escape the suburban sprawl growing up around his home in northern Virginia. The Davises have researched their property at the Adams County Historical Society, learning that the land was originally settled in about 1739. The central section of their home is a log cabin dating to 1790, and a stone barn still stands on the property built at the same time. Over the 40 years Paul Davis has owned his property, the land has supported a Christ???????????????????????????????mas tree farm and a fully functioning landing strip for private pilots.

Grant funds for the purchase of the Davises’ conservation easement were provided by the federal Farm and Ranchland Protection Program (FRPP), which is overseen by the United States Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service. These funds were matched by contributions from Sharon and Peter Sheppard through the Eva K. Sheppard Trust, the Highland Township Board of Supervisors, and the Land Conservancy.

“The success of this project is due in large part to the willingness of the Highland Township supervisors to invest in the future of agriculture here in Adams County and in their township,” said Land Conservancy president Norma Calhoun. “Without their contribution we would not have qualified for the FRPP funding. With diminished availability of county Green Space funding, we are heartened to see that townships, local organizations, and individual donors are willing to step up to continue making land conservation a priority in Adams County.”

“Along with the more immediate and visible considerations such as roadways, construction, sewer and water, and public safety, local government also has a responsibility to promote future land use that is desirable, appropriate, and sustainable,” said Craig Rockey, chairman of the Highland Township board of supervisors. “The unique opportunity afforded by the preservation of the Davis property assists residents in retaining the rural character of Highland Township by protecting its natural and agricultural resources, while at the same time enhancing property values, dampening infrastructure costs, and retaining a premier, strategic viewshed. Partnering with the Land Conservancy of Adams County, and leveraging the available resources of the federal government, was an efficient and expedient means of obtaining these benefits for the current and future Highland Township community.”

As far as the Davises are concerned, the experience of preserving their farm could not have been more pleasant. “The Land Conservancy made the whole process as easy as possible,” said Paul. “They knew what had to be done and how long it would take.” Julie especially enjoyed working with Kipp on the project. “Sarah is delightful and so smart and so good at what she does,” she said. “We both have enjoyed working with her so much. I can’t come up with any real good reasons why a landowner shouldn’t preserve their land.

 “We’re happier with our decision??????????????????????????????? every day,” Julie said. “I watched four bucks in the back yard the other day, and I see wild turkeys often. It’s perfect.” The Land Conservancy of Adams County is a member-supported, fully accredited nonprofit land trust established in 1995. Its mission is to preserve Adams County’s beautiful rural lands and character by working with interested landowners to protect their property from unplanned development both today and in the future.

The Land Conservancy partners with local landowners to preserve their land through conservation easements—voluntary legal agreements tailored to the landowner’s wishes and attached to the property title that specify the development the landowner wants to allow on the property, both now and in perpetuity. To date the Land Conservancy has worked with more than 100 Adams County landowners to preserve more than 9,000 acres of land through 133 easements. For more information about the Land Conservancy, visit www.LCACnet.org, email lcac@adamscounty.us, or call (717) 334-2828.

Hawk Mountain publishes new book Hawk Mountain: A Conservation Success Story arrives November 29

Hawk Mountain Sanctuary will cap its 80th anniversary year with a new publication: Hawk Mountain: A Conservation Success Story, and copies will be available Saturday, November 29 during the Sanctuary’s annual Holiday Open House festivities. Authors Jim Brett and Keith Bildstein will be on hand on this day to sign copies from noon until 3 pm.

The book includes updated essays by Jim Brett on the cultural and natural history of Hawk Mountain and pairs it with completely new information by Dr. Keith Bildstein on raptor conservation, the threats raptors face today, Hawk Mountain’s role in conservation ornithology, and finally, the Sanctuary’s optimism for raptors, thanks to our conservation science training program and global reach.

“This book is the perfect mix of old and new, and with illustrations by Julie Zickefoose, incredible photography, text by Keith and Jim, a foreword by Pete Dunne … it all combines into a must-have for our Hawk Mountain supporters,” says Sanctuary President Jerry Regan.

This project is made possible thanks to the generosity of the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Peter Bennett and Jean Nevins, Cameron and Diane Fowler, the grandchildren of Sanctuary founder Rosalie Edge, and the Pennsylvania Game Commission, and is being published during Hawk Mountain’s 80th anniversary year.

The attractive 8×8″ trade edition features a laminate, full-color cover and will be available during a book signing at the Sanctuary’s annual Holiday Open House on Saturday, November 29 (Cost $35), and a limited-edition, leather-bound hard cover costs just $100 and will be shipped in advance of the holidays during early December. Limited edition copies are selling fast, are signed and numbered, and finished with satin ribbon bookmark, gold-gilded edges, and foil-stamped front and spine.

ALL proceeds support Hawk Mountain raptor education programs.

Special Edition: The special edition copy is signed and hand-numbered, bound in leather and limited to just 500 and already selling fast. Special edition copies will be in stock during early December and are for sale online or in the Hawk Mountain bookstore. To learn more, call 610-756-6961.

BOOKSIGNING: Saturday, November 29, Noon to 3 pm
Meet the authors Jim Brett and Keith Bildstein. Held during Holiday Open House festivities. Includes complimentary hot cider.

Order a special edition copy nowspecial edition graphic only300

Order the Trade Edition Now ($35 pre-order special)

Order the Leather-Bound, Signed/Numbered Limited Edition Now ($100 while supplies last)

Women and Their Woods Initiative Receives Environmental Partnership Award

UPPER DELAWARE REGION, PA and NY— On Thursday, October 30th, the Northeast Pennsylvania Environmental Partners awarded their twenty-fourth annual environmental partnership awards. The Women and Their Woods initiative, led by the Delaware Highlands Conservancy with Penn State Renewable Natural Resources Extension and funding support from the U.S. Forest Service at Grey Towers, was the recipient of an Environmental Partnership Award. The awards pay tribute to those organizations and individuals of Northeastern Pennsylvania that have achieved environmental protection or conservation through partnering with others.

The Women and their Woods program is designed specifically for the needs of a growing number of women forest landowners. Women and their Woods is a network of forest landowners and professionals who work together in order to cultivate women’s connections to and care of healthy forests. Through quarterly newsletters, meetings and workshops, forest landowners learn about forest management topics such as forest ecology, tree identification, forest hydrology, wildlife habitat, and silviculture as well as network and learn from professionals and forest landowner mentors.

The Conservancy’s Stewardship and Education Coordinator, Amanda Subjin accepted theWomen_Woods award and had this to say: “It would be impossible to coordinate this initiative without the numerous dedicated, creative and conscientious women forest landowners with whom I am fortunate to work. Additionally, I am thankful to all of the professionals and partner organizations who have helped to build a strong network of women forest landowners and resources.”

The Northeast Pennsylvania Environmental Partners include Northeastern Pennsylvania Alliance, Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, Pennsylvania Environmental Council’s Northeast Office, PPL Corporation, Procter & Gamble Paper Products Company, and Wilkes University.

For more information on the Delaware Highlands Conservancy and the Women and Their Woods initiative, visit www.DelawareHighlands.org/watw or call 570-226-3164.

Peace, Love, Land: Celebrate 20 Years with the Delaware Highlands Conservancy

UPPER DELAWARE REGION, PA and NY— Do you love where you live? Celebrate the Upper Delaware River region, our local communities, and twenty years of conservation and education with the Delaware Highlands Conservancy at the Peace, Love, Land 20th Anniversary Celebration and Concert on November 22, 2014 at Bethel Woods Center for the Arts in Bethel, NY.
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The evening begins at 5:00 pm with cocktails and live music from Sullivan County Americana band Little Sparrow, featuring Rounder Recording artist Van Manakas. Guests may also arrive early and enjoy a complimentary visit to the Woodstock Museum at Bethel Woods. The four-course farm-to-table dinner begins at 7:00 pm, where we will honor the supporters and partners who have made our successes possible. The fun continues after dinner with more live music with Little Sparrow and very special guests. Tickets are $125 per person, which includes a $75 contribution to the Conservancy and a chance to win in an exciting raffle drawing.

The concert will kick off an important initiative, using music to spread the message of environmental stewardship throughout our community, and in particular to our youth. Young aspiring local performers will take the stage with professional musicians. By combining our environmental mission with the powerful voice of music, we intend to create a positive change in the way our entire community relates to our environment.

Opportunities to support the Delaware Highlands Conservancy as an event sponsor are available, at levels that will set the stage for the next twenty years of conservation. The Gold Level for $2,000 includes 8 guaranteed tickets to the dinner (a table); Silver Level for $1,000 includes 4 guaranteed tickets to the dinner; and the Bronze Level for $500 includes 2 guaranteed tickets to the dinner. Sponsorships are a charitable contribution to the Conservancy less $50 per person attending.DHC_image004Reserve your seat or sponsor the celebration today by contacting the Conservancy at info@delawarehighlands.org or 570-226-3164 or 845-583-1010. Visit www.DelawareHighlands.org  to learn more about the Conservancy’s work and other ways you can get involved. The nonprofit Delaware Highlands Conservancy works in partnership with landowners and communities of the Upper Delaware River region to conserve our natural heritage and quality of life.

Tussey Mountain land purchased by ClearWater now part of Rothrock State Forest

(STATE COLLEGE, Pa.) ClearWater Conservancy completed the purchase of 281 mountainside acres on Tussey Mountain in Harris and Ferguson Townships and transferred the land to public ownership as part of Rothrock State Forest Oct. 29.

The land, purchased from Richard and Bernadette Hale, is immediately to the east of Musser Gap, a property conserved by ClearWater in similar fashion in 2006. Since 2007, ClearWater Conservancy has added 928 acres on Tussey Mountain to Rothrock State Forest, creating conserved land for wildlife and recreational use in perpetuity.

Tussy View of Mt. Nittany2

View of Mt. Nittany: One of the nice features of the newly conserved land is public access to scenic views of the Happy Valley and Mt. Nittany on lands previously posted private.

“ClearWater Conservancy is delighted to acquire the properties and transfer ownership to Rothrock State Forest. We trust in the land management philosophy and stewardship of the forest resources carried out by the Bureau of Forestry in our community. Land conservation activities like this are at the core of ClearWater’s mission of conserving the special, beautiful, natural places that give our region its character,” said ClearWater Conservancy President Steve Miller.

As part of Rothrock State Forest, the land will now be owned and cared for by the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) Bureau of Forestry.

“The Forest District and the users of the Rothrock owe a debt of gratitude to ClearWater Conservancy for their diligence in this almost two-year project to make this acquisition happen. The tract will now be evaluated by District staff for forest stand health and for recreational opportunities,” said Mark Potter , District Forester for Rothrock State Forest.

Tussey Hale Closing3

Hale Closing: At the closing for the recently transferred land are, from left: Mark Potter, District Forester for Rothrock State Forest; Dan Pierce, DCNR Real Estate Specialist; Steve Miller, ClearWater Conservancy president; Bernadette and Richard Hale; and Jennifer Shuey, ClearWater executive director.

Conserving and protecting mountain land does more than secure scenic views and recreation, it helps ensure safe drinking water for the entire region.

“This adds 280 acres of protected mountain land to the mountain recharge area and creates an excellent source water protection area for Slab Cabin Run and both the Harter and Thomas   well fields. This is very important for the community’s drinking water supplies because it has been estimated that mountain runoff provides upwards of 50 percent of the groundwater recharge to the carbonate aquifers that support the State Borough Water Authority’s Thomas and Harter well fields, ” said Brian Heiser, SCBWA Water Production Superintendent.

Funding for the acquisition was from DCNR Bureau of Recreation and Conservation via The Keystone Recreation, Park and Conservation Fund, DCNR Bureau of Forestry and ClearWater Conservancy.

ClearWater Conservancy’s Land Conservation Program seeks to balance the rapid growth of central Pennsylvania with the conservation of important ecological, cultural, and historic places.  We work with interested landowners and managers to determine appropriate and voluntary conservation methods, including land management recommendations, conservation easements, and land acquisitions.

ClearWater Conservancy of Central Pennsylvania, Inc. is a 501(c)(3), Centre County based land trust and environmental conservation organization formed in 1980 with the mission of promoting the conservation and restoration of natural resources in central Pennsylvania through land conservation, water resource protection, and environmental outreach to the community. For more information about ClearWater Conservancy’s conservation, restoration, or education projects or to view an upcoming schedule of events, visit www.clearwaterconservancy.org.

159 Acres in Newlin Township Permanently Protected

Conservation easement surrounding Superfund site is the first of its kind in the country

Media, Pa. – Natural Lands Trust announced recently the conservation of Laurel Hill, a 211-acre property in Newlin Township, Chester County.

With towering oaks, maples, and tuliptrees overhead—a riot of color with their autumn-tinted foliage—and the cold, clear waters of Briar Run beneath, Laurel Hill is a sylvan paradise. It is this beauty that prompted Laughton Company, LLC, owned by Cyndy and Barry Olliff, to purchase the property in 2007. “We didn’t want it to be developed,” said Cyndy. “We knew if we didn’t step up, the developers would.”

A few years later, Laughton decided to go a step further to protect the land and contacted Natural Lands Trust, a regional conservation organization that has protected more than 100,000 acres in its 61-year history. Last month, an agreement was finalized to place 159 acres under conservation easement with Natural Lands Trust. Under an easement, property remains in private ownership, but is protected from future development in perpetuity.

The easement area includes 94 acres of high-quality deciduous woodlands that are bisected by Strasburg LandfillBriar Run, a tributary to West Branch Brandywine Creek and one of a handful of trout-breeding streams in southeastern Pennsylvania. It also protects the scenic views along Laurel Road; the property includes more than 2,000 feet of road frontage.

While every conservation easement is tailored to the specific property and the goals of its landowners, the Laurel Hill transaction included one rather unique challenge: the property is the site of the former Strasburg Landfill, which the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) designated as a “Superfund site” in 1989.

The conservation easement is believed to be the first of its kind in the country: the permanent protection of many acres of desirable, undeveloped real estate surrounding a federal Superfund site by private, non-government parties.

For six years, the landfill accepted municipal and industrial waste; it was closed in 1984. Between 1989 and 2001, the EPA capped and fenced-off the fill site and installed a collection and treatment system to mitigate contaminants leaching from the fill. Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, which maintains the 24-acre retired landfill, has determined that the fill no longer poses a measurable risk to the surrounding community. Though the conservation easement does not include the landfill, it virtually surrounds the remediated site.

“While at first glance, Laurel Hill might seem like an unlikely target for development, make no mistake about it: this property was at risk,” said Molly Morrison, president of Natural Lands Trust. “Hundreds of subdivisions and shopping malls have been constructed on or adjacent to other Superfund sites across the country, including the infamous Love Canal. And the scenic and natural attributes of this land made it a priority for conservation.”

Natural Lands Trust is the region’s foremost land conservation organization and is dedicated to protecting the forests, fields, streams, and wetlands that are essential to the sustainability of life in eastern Pennsylvania and southern New Jersey. Since its founding in 1953, Natural Lands Trust has preserved more than 100,000 acres, including 42 nature preserves totaling more than 22,000 acres. Today, millions of residents enjoy the healthy habitats, clean air and water, bountiful recreational opportunities, and scenic beauty provided by the lands the organization has preserved. For more information, visit www.natlands.org.

Vote for Hawk Mountain Now

Time is running out, and Hawk Mountain is still in second place. Please share in your social media and other outlets and encourage people to vote Hawk Mountain this election day, and once a day, every day through noon on Monday, November 10. Hawk Mountain is the only destination in the state.

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Hawk Mountain Sanctuary, Pennsylvania, has been selected one of 20 nominees in the USA Today’s 10 Best Birdwatching destinations across the nation. An expert panel selected Hawk Mountain for the Best Birdwatching category on October 13, and the world-famous hawkwatching destination currently is in second place.

Any individual with an Internet connection can vote once a day for the candidate of their choice at http://www.10best.com/awards/travel/best-birdwatching/ until noon on Monday, November 10.

“This is huge for Hawk Mountain and shows that our 2,500-acre Sanctuary can go up against places like the Platte River Valley in Nebraska, southeastern Arizona, the Everglades, and the Lower Rio Grande Valley in Texas, and we already beat every single one of them,” says Mary Linkevich, the Director of Communications at the Sanctuary.

“But let’s face it: if we’re in this, we want Hawk Mountain to be number one,” she adds.

Currently the only location standing in the way is Magee Marsh, Ohio, which Linkevich says has been promoting votes on social media since the contest opened.

” Hawk Mountain has been busy promoting fall migration, fall foliage and our October events and programs, so we haven’t been able to focus exclusively on this contest. Now we can, and I know the community can push us over the top, and that it can happen in this last few days of the contest, ” she explains.

Whether the Sanctuary finishes first or not, the contest already brings enormous reach. The 10Best is promoted by USA Today across all Gannett media outlets, including the websites of its 81 local papers and 43 television stations, and in USA Today Travel Media Group’s digital and mobile products, as well as via social media.

“USA TODAY is thrilled to have this method of sharing what 10Best and USA TODAY readers and users love most,” said John Peters, president of USA TODAY Travel Media Group. “Our readers are well-informed, well-traveled and opinionated. At the end of the day, content on our platforms is a reflection of them. A destination, organization or business which finds itself the recipient of a 10Best Readers’ Choice Award has really accomplished something.”

Stretching across the Berks and Schuylkill county border, Hawk Mountain Sanctuary this year celebrates its 80th anniversary as the world’s first refuge for birds of prey, and today is an international center for raptor conservation. The 2,600-acre Sanctuary, scenic overlooks and eight mile trail system attracts an average 70,000 visitors yearly, many from across the country and around the world, ranging from hikers to dedicated birders looking for bald eagles, ospreys and broad-winged hawks.

Lancaster Farmland Trust Raises Over $125,000 at Annual Dinner 2014 Award Winners Announced

With the support of generous sponsors and over 250 attendees, Lancaster Farmland Trust’s “Saving the Land We Love” annual dinner and silent auction raised over $125,000 for farmland preservation.

A live “Acres for Auction” event garnered $62,000 of the total amount. Acres for Auction featured two farms in Rapho Township; 52 acres are owned by Earl and Sandra Geib and 42 acres are owned by Barry and Dawn Geib. Attendees bid to preserve the two properties by giving $125 to preserve a quarter acre, $250 for a half acre, or $500 for a full acre.

The Geib brothers both recently decided to preserve their farms which are adjacent to each other. The properties were originally owned by Earl and Barry’s father who passed the farms down to his sons. Both farms are located in the Chiques Creek watershed and the brothers grow corn and soybeans.

The event also honored owners of preserved farms and the following awards were presented:

Distinguished Benefactor of the Year:

This award is given to a person or persons whose support for Lancaster Farmland Trust embodies generosity. The recipient is awarded not just on the amount of their support, but also the spirit of generosity that they embody. This year’s recipients are Bernice and Jack Gerhart (posthumously).

Jack and Bernice have been generous supporters of Lancaster Farmland Trust and advocates for farmland preservation in the community. They often shared stories about favorite farms that had been lost to development and their hope that the Trust would be able to preserve what remained.

Although Jack passed away a few months ago, the enthusiastic and generous support he provided over 20 years will have a lasting impact on the Trust.

Amos H. Funk Spirit of Cooperation:

The Amos H. Funk Spirit of Cooperation was developed in 1999 to recognize cooperative efforts among partners to promote land preservation. Regarded as the father of land preservation in Lancaster County, Amos Funk was a tireless leader in land, soil, and water conservation. This award is given to recognize the importance of collaboration in conservation and honor partnerships that make Lancaster County a special place to live and work.

This year’s award is presented to the Lancaster County Conservancy. Both the Conservancy and Lancaster Farmland Trust were founded by Amos Funk and in the years since, the two organizations have worked in partnership on many projects. The Conservancy and the Trust have worked together on four preservation projects that protect both farm and natural lands. Last year, the two organizations collaborated on a flood plain restoration project at Pool Forge on the Conestoga River and, most recently, have come together to provide outreach and education about the proposed Atlantic Sunrise natural gas pipeline.

Volunteer of the Year:

Whether helping at events or serving on the board of trustees and committees, volunteers are the lifeblood of the Trust’s effort. These advocates give their time and efforts to promote farmland preservation in Lancaster County. This award is given to individuals who perform extra effort in service to the Trust during the year.

This year’s recipient is Scott Weaver. Since 2009, Garden Spot Village in New Holland has been our generous host site for Pedal to Preserve, the Trust’s community fundraising event. With about 1000 riders each year, the Trust could not hold this event without the generosity of Garden Spot Village and the leadership skills of Scott Weaver. Scott participates on the Pedal to Preserve planning committee and works with Trust staff for six months prior to the event to make sure it is executed flawlessly. Scott puts in countless hours planning the event and making sure that participants have a wonderful time in a beautiful setting.

Darvin E. Boyd Service to Agriculture: 

This award, named for the late Darvin Boyd, is presented to a leader in the community who, through their professional and personal activities, supports farming and raises the status of agriculture in the community.

The Darvin Boyd Service to Agriculture Award is given to Herman Brontrager, Chairman and CEO of Goodville Mutual Casualty Company. Herman has served on numerous non-for-profit boards including current service as chairman of the Clinic for Special Children which serves children with genetically transmitted diseases, especially in the Amish and Mennonite communities. Her has served for over 30 years as Secretary-Treasurer of the National Committee for Amish Religious Freedom which assists Amish communities  when their way of life is in conflict with sate or federal regulations. The Nickel Mines Amish community asked him to serve as their official spokesperson and liaison to the media after the October 2006 shooting at the Amish school in Nickel Mines

Herman has been a trusted advisor and friend of Lancaster Farmland Trust for many years and currently serves on the Advisory Council as well as the Finance Committee.

Distinguished Service:
The Distinguished Service Award is given to those individuals who have faithfully served as members of Lancaster Farmland Trust’s Board of Trustees. The award is given to the following in honor of their service and commitment to the Trust and farmland preservation:

  • David Breniser
  • Dennis Grimm
  • Jim Lafferty
  • Ken Lewis
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