-Power of the Partnership Year-End Celebration
On January 26, 2018 over 130 attendees from the following professions gathered at the 7th Annual “Power of the Partnership” Year End Celebration held at Bongiorno Conference Center near Carlisle to celebrate the successes of 2017, to have fun and spend time together, and to participate in the awarding of the 2017 South Mountain Mini-Grants and the 2017 Spirit of South Mountain Award.
- Local government
Join your fellow regional advocates and leaders at the next “Power of the Partnership” in January 2019. Until then, keep scrolling to see what happened this year, how you can get involved now in your own backyard and help to strengthen the ‘power’ of the Partnership in the place we all call ‘home’.
The highly successful projects highlighted this year included:
- “The stuff that dreams are made of” / Ben Kishbaugh, Big Hill Ciderworks
- “You don’t need a silver fork to eat good food” / Diane Staz, South Central PA Harvest Hub
- “This is the beginning of a beautiful partnership” / Kirk Stoner, Cumberland County Planning
- “There’s no place like home” / Shireen Farr, Cumberland Valley Visitors Bureau
- “If you save it, they will come” / Stephanie Williams, Cumberland County Planning
What it is: The annual Spirit of South Mountain award recognizes exemplary projects and organizations that significantly and positively impact the South Mountain region by contributing to its sense of place through promoting or conserving its natural and cultural resources. This annual award celebrates collaborative spirit that is so central to the Partnership’s work. We were very pleased to again be able to present the award of a cutting board made from Pennsylvania hardwoods and crafted by a local artisan within the South Mountain landscape.
Who won & why: The Cumberland Valley Rails-to-Trails Council (CVRTC) is an all-volunteer, non-profit, charitable corporation. The organization is dedicated to conservation, historic preservation, recreation and alternative transportation in the Cumberland Valley of Pennsylvania through the development of multi-use trails along former railroad corridors. The Council was created in 1992 and has been active for over 25 years planning and constructing the Cumberland Valley Rail Trail. In 2010, the Cumberland Valley Rail Trail was designated as a National Recreational Trail.
Trail development first became a reality in 1995 when Conrail donated an 11-mile segment of the old Cumberland Valley Railroad which extended from Shippensburg to Newville. The first 4 ½ miles of trail was completed in 2004 with another 5 miles completed in 2006. In 2017, the Council completed the final stretch of this 11-mile segment which included a bridge making a critical connection to Shippensburg University and the downtown area. Through a creative partnership with Shippensburg Township, Rotary Club and others, a trailhead building was constructed in Shippensburg to look similar to a train station – acknowledging the trail’s history as a train track. At that same location, plans are underway to develop a railroad museum and unique event space from a salvaged railroad car. Additionally, a feasibility study to look at extending the trail into Franklin County will begin in 2018 as part of the South Mountain region’s participation in the Chesapeake Bay Trust’s Capacity Building Initiative.
Those projects alone would be enough to demonstrate success, but CVRTC didn’t stop there in 2017. There was significant progress on their vision to extend the trail from Newville east to Carlisle. This 10-mile segment was purchased from PPL in 2011. In 2017, a massive infrastructure project was completed in Newville, which included a bridge and an underpass addressing major safety issues and opening up the trail to the east. At the Carlisle terminus, one mile of trail was also built, now connecting it with the Carlisle Bicycle and Pedestrian Network and beyond to the Letort Nature Trail. Plans for 2018 include construction of two miles of additional trail in Newville and design of two miles of trail near Greason.
The Cumberland Valley Rail Trail is recognized as a premier outdoor recreation area in Cumberland County and the South Mountain Region. The trail is representive of a true South Mountain “nexus” project in that recreation, economic and heritage resources intersect here. The trail provides a variety of recreation opportunities including hiking, biking, horseback riding and nature exploration. The economic benefits of the trail are well documented in a 2012 user study which estimates the annual economic impact to be between $440,000 and $460,000 and growing. Additionally, the trail corridor offers numerous opportunities to interpret the rich history of the Cumberland Valley Rail Road, the Civil War, and agriculture.
CVRTC is worthy of this Spirit of South Mountain award, not for just one action or project, but for the collective work of the last 25 plus years. Their hard work, dedication and passion for the trail is creating a legacy for the communities of the South Mountain Region.
The South Mountain Partnership Mini-Grant Program has been in place since 2009, and is administered on behalf of the Partnership by the Appalachian Trail Conservancy. Over the past eight years, 45 projects have been funded – totaling just over $345,000 and leveraging over $750,000 in local matching funds – a return of over double. The program is funded through the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources’ Community Conservation Partnerships Program, with the monies derived from the Environmental Stewardship Fund. The Partnership continues to seek opportunities to catalyze and support projects that preserve and promote the natural and cultural resources of the South Mountain region.
- $5,500 to Franklin County Planning, to improve and promote the Franklin County Eco Park, providing direct benefits to Falling Spring stream, increasing public awareness of the park, and educating visitors about the natural and recreational resources found on the site and throughout the great Chambersburg area;
- $6,600 to Indiana University of Pennsylvania, to develop best management practices and practical conservation measures for the culturally sensitive Native American metarhyolite quarry complex in Michaux State Forest, leading to practical conservation measures that allow for both forestland management and archaeological site stewardship;
- $12,800 to Cumberland County Historical Society, to create and execute a Historic Resource Preservation Education and Marketing program, building off of their 2015 Greater Carlisle Heart and Soul project while building the local government and the public’s capacity to interpret, promote, and preserve historic resources;
- $12,000 to Historic Gettysburg-Adams County, to build their existing barn survey program into a replicable barn inventory system, complete with materials and trainings that can be used throughout the region to inventory barns, leading to better promotion and preservation of these historic landscape resources and better informing county planning and tourism efforts;
- $5,600 to Cumberland Valley Visitor’s Bureau/Cumberland Area Economic Development Corporation, for a South Mountain region-wide agritourism guide, building upon their previous Cumberland Valley Local Food, Farm, and Outdoor Guide and helping to establish the economic conditions needed to support local farms and associated farmland;
- $2,400 to the Land Conservancy of Adams County, for a trail feasibility study that would connect three wineries in the historic South Mountain Fruit Belt, serving as the first of its kind in the region, allowing the region to better understand issues related to placement of recreational trails within or adjacent to preserved farmland challenges related to the frequent application of pesticides and herbicides;
Past Recipients of the “Spirit of South Mountain” Award
2016 – Pennsylvania Parks & Forest Foundation + Partners for Hammonds Rocks Anti-Graffiti Campaign
2015 – Franklin County & Greene Township for support of the Eagle Rock Project
2014 – Land Conservancy of Adams County, and
Conococheague Creek Trout Habitat Enhancement Project
2013 – not awarded
2012 – South Mountain Speakers Series Steering Committee
2011 – Middlesex Township and the Trindle Road A.T. Trailhead project