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Things Looking Up For Mountains In PA Highlands

March 28, 2011

LANCASTER, Pa. - A conservation group is working to protect a sizeable chunk of forest land within Pennsylvania's Highlands and farmland-heavy Lancaster County. Kathie Gonick is the director of land protection with the Lancaster County Conservancy. She says through purchase, donation and easements, they've pieced together an 873-acre parcel of contiguous forest in the Welsh Mountains.

They acquired the land in three stages, she explains, and when the tough economy left them short of funding, the cities and towns connected to the land pitched in.

"When we reached out to them, they were very much engaged, and I think they will be moving forward with the stewardship, as well."

Gonick says a project like this one happens after the land in question is put through a list of criteria that the Conservancy uses for every prospect.

"So when someone comes to us and says, 'I have some land I'd like to donate or sell,' the first step we will do is run it through our gems analysis and it gives us a score. "

The preserve will also feature visitor information about its makeup and history, including tales of vagabonds and gypsies wandering there in the late 1800's, she adds.

"Eventually there will be kiosks throughout the walking trails, interpreting different areas and telling people about this, and it's part of our presentations when we go out and talk about the preserve, as well."

The Highlands is a federally recognized and heavily forested region that supplies and protects drinking water for millions of people. Gonick says the Welsh Mountain Nature Preserve will provide miles and miles of hiking trails, and also contains one of the few interior forests in Lancaster County.

Tom Joseph, Public News Service - PA