Photo by Loy Elliott

Past Mini-Grants

The Appalachian Trail Conservancy has administered a Mini-Grant Program on behalf of the South Mountain Partnership since 2009. The projects that have received funding through this program are briefly described below within each funding round.

You can also learn more about the Mini-Grant program through an interactive story map that the Center for Land Use and Sustainability at Shippensburg University created by clicking here.

2020 Funding Round

Adams County Farmers Market

Project: Strategic Planning and SMP Partner Cross-Promotion

This mini-grant will address food insecurity in the region while supporting local farmers. View a video about this project below.

Conodoguinet Creek Watershed Association

Project: Creek Clean-up Equipment and Commemorative Booklet

This mini-grant will fund the purchase of a trailer for creek clean-up and riparian buffer planting events and allow them to do more outreach. View a video of the project below.

Mt Tabor Preservation Project and Mount Holly Springs Borough

Project: Phase 1 of the Mt Tabor AME Zion Church Restoration

This mini-grant will help begin the preservation process for this historic church built in 1870. View a video of the project below.

Cumberland County Historical Society

Project: Two Mile House Management Plan and Interpretation

This mini-grant will preserve the historic building that was built in 1820 and build a connector trail to a nearby hospital for patients and staff to use. View a video of the project below.

2019 Funding Round

Appalachian Trail Museum

Project: 3-D map and exhibits at the Appalachian Trail Museum

This mini-grant will be used for a 3-D Relief Map, as well as the Wild East Initiative and Landscape Conservation Exhibits project at the Appalachian Trail Museum near Gardners, PA.

Friends of Toms Creek

Project: Field stream assessments on Toms Creek

This mini-grant will be used to conduct field stream assessments of Toms Run Creek near Fairfield with project partners at Upper Potomac River Keeper and Sierra Club.

Keystone Conservation Trust

Project: Use of the Return on Environment Report for land use planning and development goals

This mini-grant will go toward Penn Township's Return on Environment Land Use Study project to assist the Township in exploring how the Report can help to establish self-determined land-use planning and development goals. Project partners also include PA Audubon.

North Newton Township

Project: Trail feasibility study

This mini-grant will be used to develop a trail feasibility study what will provide safe bicycle and pedestrian access between the Cumberland Valley Rail-Trail and the North Newton Township Park near Newville, PA.

Northern York Historical and Preservation Society

Project: Self-guided tour implementation

This mini-grant will be used to implement a self-guided tour of the Dill’s Tavern Property and downtown Dillsburg for educational and tourism purposes, promoting the natural, agrarian, and downtown resources in Dillsburg, Cumberland County.

South Middleton Township

Project: Retrofit a bioretention swale for water quality improvements

This mini-grant will be used to address water quality concerns affecting the Yellow Breeches Creek by retrofitting a township bioretention swale near Boiling Springs. The project will earn credit under the Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) program.

Strawberry Hill Foundation

Project: Conservation plan implementation and educational exhibits

This mini-grant will be used for the implementation of a conservation plan that will restore Middle Creek, install interpretive panels, and design and build boardwalks and platforms for creek access and education near Fairfield, PA.

2018 Funding Round

The Archeological Conservancy

Project: Trail building and education at Ebbert Spring Archaeological Preserve and Heritage Park

This mini-grant will be used for trail building, installation of interpretive signage, and to pay for a morning teaching aid at the Ebbert Spring Archaeological Preserve and Heritage Park, all with the purpose of getting people outdoors to appreciate and protect natural resources.

Central Pennsylvania Conservancy

Project: Develop a Letort Spring Garden Preserve management plan

This mini-grant will be used to develop a Letort Spring Garden Preserve management plan that will protect the high value coldwater spring. The management plan will also serve as a model for the protection and management of high value natural resources within agricultural and urban contexts.

Land Conservancy of Adams County

Project: Planning and design of the Orchard Ales Trail

This mini-grant will be used to plan and design the 2.7-mile long Orchard Ales Trail, which will connect three permanently preserved farms and popular agritourism destinations to each other. It will also promote broader support for land preservation across the South Mountain region.

Messiah College

Project: Education about and protection of honeybees

Messiah College's Office of Sustainability was awarded a mini-grant for the conversion of one acre of campus into a honeybee forage area, as well as the establishment of six Pennsylvania stock bee colonies. The project also includes changes to the college's sustainability major curriculum to provide student experience in programming for community-wide education and on-campus apiary and ecological conservation.

Biglerville Historical and Preservation Society

Project: Restore the structural integrity of the National Apple Harvest Museum

This mini-grant will restore the structural integrity of the National Apple Harvest Museum so that the facility can be promoted once again for educational and tourism purposes. This renovation will also help promote the natural resources that make the South Mountain landscape a specialized agricultural region.

National Wild Turkey Federation

Project: Restoration and management of Big Pine Flat "Oak-Savanna" in Michaux State Forest

This mini-grant will contribute to the landscape scale Big Pine Flat "Oak-Savanna" Restoration Project that will restore and manage approximately 470 acres of wildlife habitat in Michaux State Forest. The Big Pine Flats project will restore the area from overgrown hardwood forest into a mosaic of savanna and barren-like habitat, restoring landscape function while creating useable space for wild turkeys and other wildlife species.

2017 Funding Round

Franklin County Government

Project: Improve and promote the Franklin County Eco Park

While providing direct benefits to Falling Spring stream, the project will also increase public awareness of the park, and educate visitors about the natural and recreational resources found on the site and throughout the greater Chambersburg area.

Indiana University of Pennsylvania

Project: Cultural Resources Predictive Model & best management practice recommendations

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.

Cumberland County Historical Society

Project: Preservation Education Outreach

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.

Historic Gettysburg-Adams County

Project: Replicable Barn Inventory System, Materials, & Trainings

To build their existing barn survey program into a statewide 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

Cumberland Valley Visitor’s Bureau/Cumberland Area Economic Development Corporation

Project: South Mountain Agri-Tourism Guide

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.

Land Conservancy of Adams County

Project: Trail Study

For a trail feasibility study that would connect three wineries/breweries 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 and challenges related to the frequent application of pesticides and herbicides

2016 Funding Round

Center for Land Use and Sustainability at Shippensburg University

Project: Predictive Model for historic and prehistoric cultural resources

A predictive model will be developed for the locations of historic and prehistoric cultural features in the Carbaugh Run Natural Area of Michaux State Forest. After this predictive model has been tested for Carbaugh Run, it will be used to predict cultural features more broadly across South Mountain. Known historic and prehistoric cultural features found at Carbaugh Run will be used to create a predicted cultural features map and dataset for areas surrounding Carbaugh Run. Field surveys will be used to determine and improve its accuracy and precision.

Center for Land Use and Sustainability at Shippensburg University

Project: Visualizing regional investments: A story map of South Mountain Mini-Grants

The Center for Land Use and Sustainability will develop a story map that illustrates the projects funded through the South Mountain Mini-Grant program, as well as establish a sustainable framework to update and maintain this product over the long term. The story map will show the locations of each funded project, either the geographic location of an on-the-ground project or the location of the lead organization, along with photos and text describing the project and, where relevant, links to documents or reports that came out of the project. A link to the story map can be included on the “Past Mini-grants” page on the South Mountain Partnership website and will be part of the Geography-Earth Science Department’s on-line map gallery.

Central Pennsylvania Conservancy

Project: South Mountain Landowner Outreach Initiative

To achieve permanent protection on high priority parcels in the South Mountain region, CPC will engage in a long-term process to develop and deepen effective outreach to priority landowners. The short-term goal is to re-establish and maintain a relationships between CPC, the only local land trust serving Cumberland and Franklin counties, and priority landowners in Cumberland and Franklin counties. Relationships with other organizations with relating or overlapping missions and visions will also be established and developed; such organizations include the County Woodland Owners Associations, Penn State Center for Private Forests, the Cumberland County Conservation District office, local municipal planning committees, local Environmental Advisory Committees, and legal/financial advisors in areas of estate and legacy planning.

Greene Township, Franklin County

Project: Corker Hill Adaptive Reuse Feasibility Study

The Township will prepare a feasibility and adaptive reuse study aimed at providing recommendations for the highest and best uses at the Corker Hill site, ultimately preserving its rich heritage. Greene Township will create and evaluate plans to restore the Corker Hill property, a historical site, consisting of two parcels: an 8.54-acre mansion house complex tract and a 26-acre adjoining historic barn complex and tenant house tract. Placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2003, this formalization of its historic significance is the rationale for the Township’s efforts to preserve Corker Hill as a valuable historic asset in the community. By restoring Corker Hill, local quality of live and the entire community will be enhanced by maximizing, integrating and building upon the existing recreational and historical amenities available within the Township. Due to its proximity to the Greene Township Municipal Park, the preservation and productive reuse of Corker Hill will build upon the Park’s rich community features providing residents and visitors a historical treasure to experience.

Main Street Gettysburg

Project: Baltimore Street Economic Revitalization Project Master Plan

The Master Plan will provide a blueprint for the economic revitalization strategy of the Baltimore Street corridor in Gettysburg. The corridor has significant cultural history but lacks a sense of place. Main Street Gettysburg will work with Baltimore Street residents and business owners, the Borough of Gettysburg, and other interested citizens and stakeholders to improve the safety, economic vitality, and sense of place within the corridor while connecting the corridor to the Landscape Resources of the surrounding South Mountain region. The project will promote the South Mountain region’s Landscape Resources (agricultural, cultural/historic, natural, and recreational) so as to broaden the visitor experience and engagement with other South Mountain region in the countryside communities surrounding Gettysburg.

South Central PA Harvest Hub (Northern York County School District)

Project: South Central PA Harvest Hub

Watershed Alliance of Adams County

Project: Reforesting Adams County Streams

This project will reestablish riparian forest buffers on 3 acres of land along the riparian stream corridor in Adams County. The project will assist local government and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in meeting nutrient and sediment load reduction rates and will increase biodiversity along the corridor. The project will also provide the opportunity for WAAC to work with local landowners, scouts, and students from local high schools and Harrisburg Area Community College (Gettysburg) in the reforesting of these critical habitat and historically forested areas.

2015 Funding Round

Appalachian Trail Museum

Project: Museum Restoration

  The Appalachian Trail Museum is continuing its efforts to improve the interior form and function of the Old Mill structure in Pine Grove Furnace State Park. The work items were identified from their 2012 architectural work and construction documents. This project will help the museum to accomplish several long-term objectives which include: increase visitors and relevancy and form the 2nd and 3rd floors into areas that highlight the contemporary Appalachian Trail hiking experience; expand staff by creating functional spaces for the museum manager, interns, and future staff; expand services such as programming, workshops, and seminars through the creation of the research library; expand partnerships with private collectors and museums by achieving greater exhibit space. Appalachian Trail Museum  

Cumberland County Planning Department

Project: Forest Management Plan for Mount Holly Marsh Preserve

The 900 acre Mount Holly Marsh Preserve, owned by Cumberland County and managed in coordination with The Nature Conservancy (TNC), is located along the rocky slopes of South Mountain near the Borough of Mount Holly Springs. It consists of 700 acres of upland forest and 200 acres of marshland. Through this grant, Cumberland County and TNC will develop a conservation/forest management plan for the Preserve's entire 900 acres. This conservation forestry management plan will go beyond the conventional forestry management plan that typically focuses primarily on timber harvest and deliver a holistic, sustainable plan for the preserve’s long-term management. More information about the Preserve can be found here.

Friends of Pine Grove Furnace State Park

Project: Mountain Creek Footbridge

Friends of Pine Grove Funace State Park will build a footbridge to connect the Mountain Creek Trail over Mountain Creek and provide for additional trail improvements. For more about their project, see the website of Friends of Pine Grove Furnace.

Greater Carlisle Project

Project: Heart & Soul Initiative

The Greater Carlisle Project's Heart & Soul initiative, a project framework developed by the Orton Family Foundation, will engage people from all segments of the community, in telling, listening to, and sharing of stories about the natural, cultural, historical, agricultural, and recreational resources that matter to them. This will lead to a shared understanding of what the community values most and what they want for their future - allowing the community to develop ways to promote and protect these vital community resources.

LEAF Project

Project: Local Food System Pop-Up Museum

The LEAF Project Inc is launching an interactive pop-up museum project that profiles local food system leaders and hosts a series of youth-led community engagement workshops. The project will empower youth to cultivate the region’s connection to food, land, and heritage by:

  1. Engaging the public in learning more about the local food system through the pop-up display (measured by a 5 question participant survey after participant has viewed the pop-up museum);
  2. Helping to facilitate community engagement workshops about food, land, and heritage (measured quantitatively and qualitatively through before and after skill assessment and open-ended survey questions).

South Middleton Township

Project: Structural Repairs to Old Carlisle Iron Works

This project will fund part one of Phase III restoration efforts per the recently completed Boiling Springs Historic Iron Furnace structural engineering review. The restoration work will be the first of two planned phases, with the first phase devoted to replacing the cap of the furnace, seal vent holes to prevent water infiltration, re-point sidewalls, and repair the interior support structure of the furnace. Recommendations of the structural engineering review will be implemented, and will be the first of two planned restoration phases.

2014 Funding Round

Cumberland Valley Rail-to-Trail Council

Project: Allen Road and Newville Trailhead Improvements

The Cumberland Valley Rails-to-Trails Council is launching efforts to expand the Cumberland Valley Rail Trail from its current terminus in Newville north into Carlisle. This project will install informational kiosks at the Newville trailhead and at a new Allen Road trailhead in Carlisle. Additional signage will be installed along the new one-mile stretch of trail accessed by this Allen Road trailhead. Collectively, these efforts will improve access to and safe use of a new one-mile stretch of the rail trail that is the first step in the eventual 11-mile extension of the trail north into Carlisle.

Dickinson College

Project: Laurel Lake Monitoring and Research Project

Laurel Lake, located in Pine Grove Furnace State Park (PGFSP), is a popular recreation destination in the South Mountain landscape. Increasingly the boating, swimming and fishing opportunities are being compromised by vegetative growth in the lake. This project will implement an initial year-long monitoring of physical, chemical, and biological properties of the lake; completed in collaboration with PGFSP staff, this data will be instrumental in helping to inform management choices related to the treatment and/or removal of aquatic vegetation within the lake. This year-long monitoring program is intended to be the initial dataset in a longitudinal study of the lake’s physical, chemical, and biological properties.

Franklin County Visitors Bureau, Inc.

Project: “Out of the Ore” Nature Trail Project


Download the "Out of the Ore: Birds and Blooms" Guide
  In the 1800s, the natural resources of South Mountain fueled the iron ore industry. Plentiful timber, water, and iron ore kept the furnace stacks of South Mountain working day and night. For decades the iron industry stripped the life from South Mountain, leaving a blank landscape, void of natural resources and habitats. Out of the iron ore industry, the Pennsylvania conservation initiative took shape. Today, the South Mountain landscape is home to hundreds of bird, wildlife, insect, tree, and plant species The legacy of the iron industry in South Mountain continues to shape our natural and cultural landscapes; one of the most inspiring stories to come out of this legacy has been the regeneration of the region’s forests. This project will improve a short 1-mile walking path near Mont Alto to interpret the history of the iron industry and the reforestation and return of important natural habitat for birds and plant species. This project too will help preserve an important historical resource, the Mont Alto Furnace Lime Kiln.

LeTort Regional Authority

Project: LeTort Nature Trail Improvements

The LeTort Nature Trail is a 1.5 mile nature trail located in Carlisle, PA. This project will improve the access and value of the trail to the community by installing distance markers and informational/interpretative panels along the trail. The trailhead area will be improved as well with the planting of native vegetation.

Northern York County Historical and Preservation Society

Project: Dills Tavern and Planation Distillery Project

The Dills Tavern and Plantation (Dillsburg, PA) is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is operated as a living history education and recreation center. This project will facilitate the construction of a 19th Century distillery to demonstrate the historically significant distillation of spirits from locally sourced grains that reflect the South Mountain landscape’s rich agricultural heritage.

South Middleton Township

Project: Carlisle Iron Works Engineering Study

The Carlisle Iron Works Furnace Stack, located along the Appalachian Trail and Children’s Lake in historic Boiling Springs, is a prominent reminder of the iron industry and its impact in shaping the South Mountain landscape. This project will enable the township, which recently acquired the stack, to complete a professional engineering study to assess the current condition of the stack and develop a scope of work for a comprehensive restoration project to be completed in the coming years.

2013 Funding Round

Capital RC&D/The LEAF Project

Project: Level II Internship Curriculum Development and Implementation for the LEAF Project

Capital RC&D served as the fiscal sponsor for a project for the LEAF Project. The LEAF Project (Leadership Education and Farming), a farm-based youth development and employment program for youth ages 14 to 18, is intended to engage and inspire youth through the meaningful work of building a healthy local food system. Youth collaboratively work and learn together, and partner with farmers and chefs, to motivate personal and social change while increasing knowledge about and access to locally raised food within communities. This project enabled the LEAF Project to expand its internship program to include a second tier for continued and deeper engagement for a select number of youth who have demonstrated exemplary leadership potential and capacity in completing the initial LEAF summer internship. Learn more about the LEAF Project here.

Trout Unlimited – Adams County Chapter

Project: Concococheauge Creek Trout Habitat Enhancement Project

The Adams County Chapter of Trout Unlimited, in collaboration with Michaux State Forest staff, The Nature Conservancy, the national Trout Unlimited staff and additional local Trout Unlimited chapters (Cumberland Valley and Falling Spring chapters), completed a targeted habitat enhancement project on an impaired stretch of the Conococheague Creek formerly impounded by the Chambersburg Reservoir (drained in 2003). This project was the second phase of a two-phase restoration effort, and resulted in the installation of 13 habitat improvement structures within the Creek. On-going physical and biological monitoring continues to track the improvements in the stream quality.

Strawberry Hill Nature Preserve

Project: Trail Feasibility Study

In partnership with Michaux State Forest, the Adams County Office of Planning and Development, the Land Conservancy of Adams County, and Penn Trails, Inc., Strawberry Hill Nature Preserve completed a feasibility study for a proposed trail connection from Hamiltonban Township into the Glatfelter Tree Farm tract of Michaux State Forest. This proposed trail connection is a regional connector as identified by the Adams County Greenways Plan. The project resulted in a multi-use trail feasibility/alignment study that inventoried and prioritized existing trails and outlined design needs for creating a connected trail system.

Central Pennsylvania Conservancy

Project: Goddard Leadership Legacy Institute

The Central Pennsylvania Conservancy launched a successful new program, the Goddard Leadership Legacy Institute, in 2013. A collaboration between CPC, Pine Grove Furnace State Park, and the Pennsylvania Parks and Forests Foundation, the Goddard Leadership Legacy Institute is a weeklong residential conservation leadership program for youth ages 13 to 15 held at the Ironmaster’s Mansion in Pine Grove Furnace State Park. This grant was designed to support the continuation of the program into a second year as the Central Pennsylvania Conservancy identifies sustainable funding sources moving forward.

Watershed Alliance of Adams County

Project: Watershed Teaching Curriculum

In collaboration with Strawberry Hill Nature Preserve, the Watershed Alliance of Adams County put together a Teacher Environmental Education Conference in Fall, 2013. This project provided an avenue for continued engagement with local classrooms by creating program that brought water resources topics into classroom curriculums. The program consisted of two components: organized field tripes to Strawberry Hill Nature Preserve for on-site watershed education experiences, and an extension program to bring watershed education experiences to schools/classrooms.

Pennsylvania Parks and Forest Foundation

Project: Pine Grove Furnace Stack Repair

The Pennsylvania Parks and Forest Foundation served as the fiscal sponsor for the Friends of Pine Grove Furnace State Park to allow them to undertake a project to repair and install a new concrete cap on the iconic Furnace State at Pine Grove Furnace State Park. The cold-blast charcoal iron industry was central to the South Mountain region’s economy in the 18th and 19th centuries, and the 30-foot tall stone furnace stack (in operation 1764-1895) is emblematic of this legacy. The “throat” of the stack had recently been exposed to the elements, with the plywood and rubber sheeting cover having collapsed; this put the historic landmark in immediate danger of rapid deterioration. The new concrete cap will protect the stack well into the future.

Cumberland Valley Appalachian Trail Club

Project: Children’s Lake Bench Replacement

In collaboration with the Boiling Springs Civic Association and local businesses, the Cumberland Valley Appalachian Trail Club spearheaded a project to replace deteriorating concrete and wooden benches around Children’s Lake in the village of Boiling Springs. Children’s Lake is the centerpiece of the village, and is a popular community and tourist attraction for hikers, fishermen, and families. The newly installed benches reflect the historic iron industry, and provide ample seating space from which to enjoy the ample natural and cultural resources of Boiling Springs, a gateway into the South Mountain landscape.

Borough of Mount Holly Springs

Project: Butler Park Improvements

This project enabled the Borough of Mount Holly Springs to rehabilitate the Butler Street Park, located in the heart of the Borough. Mount Holly Springs sits at the base of South Mountain and is a gateway into Michaux State Forest, Kings Gap Environmental Education Center and Pine Grove Furnace State Park. This project was phase one of a longer-term project to improve the park, including a walking path.

2012 Funding Round

Capital RC&D

Project: Developing Equity in the Food System workshop

Developing Equity in the Food System: Techniques and Strategies to Serve All Residents was held at Wilson College in January 2013. The program – a one-day training with a facilitator – provided organizations and businesses within the South Mountain region an opportunity to consider the issues surrounding equity and inclusion in their services and programming with specific emphasis on our region’s food system. The training was designed to provide the necessary information and guidance to ensure that underrepresented communities (socio-economic, racial, cultural, gender, etc.) are included in both voice and representation in the efforts of participating groups focused on agriculture, agritourism, and those whose recreational activities rely on the region’s agriculture. This training has helped to invigorate the South Central PA Food System Alliance (SCPA-FSA).

Central Pennsylvania Conservancy

Project: Goddard Leadership Legacy Institute

The Goddard Leadership Legacy Institute launched its inaugural program in July, 2013 with a week-long summer residential program that engaged 20 promising early level high school students in natural resources stewardship learning and training in leadership and civic engagement. Led by environmental educators and incorporating professional leaders in a variety of fields, the program included lessons in ecology and sustainability; leadership and citizen engagement were focused on as tools to resolving threats to sustainability. The week culminated with student-driven team projects that sought to integrate the technical and leadership skills that students had developed over the course of the week The Goddard Institute takes inspiration from Maurice K. Goddard’s legacy which includes a commitment to professionalism and civil service; leadership on environmental and watershed-scale approaches to water management; and dedicated funding for natural resource conservation. More information is available at

Cumberland County Planning Department

Project: Simply Moving Park & Trail Guide

The Cumberland County Planning Department (CCPD) in partnership with the Carlisle Area Health & Wellness Foundation (CAHWF) updated its popular park and trail guide, Simply Moving. Simply Moving is a comprehensive guide to public outdoor recreation in Cumberland and Perry counties. The guide serves a dual purpose: first, to generate awareness about the parks and trails within both Counties as a means of promoting nature-based tourism; and second, to encourage health and wellness by promoting these recreational facilities as great places for free, close-to-home physical activity. A printed version has been widely distributed; to access an electronic copy of the guide, click here.

Healthy Adams Bicycle/Pedestrian, Inc (HABPI)

Project: Gettysburg Inner Loop Greenway Mater Plan

Healthy Adams Bicycle/Pedestrian, Inc.(HABPI) is a non-profit group of volunteers working to develop walking and bicycling paths in Adams County for recreation and transportation. This project enable this group to produce a Greenway Master Plan for the section of the Gettysburg Inner Loop (GIL) from the Gettysburg Post Office on Buford Avenue to the new Bus Hub on Carlisle Street.

Pennsylvania Audubon

Project: South Mountain Birding Guide

Pennsylvania Audubon developed a web-based and printed guide for watching birds within and around the entire South Mountain landscape. The guide includes general information about the value of South Mountain to nesting and migrating birds, and identifies (via map and text) specific birding sites, directions, and interesting or unique species found at each site by season. For more information and to download the birding guide, click here.

2011 Funding Round

Healthy Adams County

Project: South Mountain Food Security Symposium

In conjunction with Capital RC&D and Wilson College, Healthy Adams County designed and implemented a food security symposium on “Closing the Food Gap” in the South Mountain region. The symposium enabled participants with tools to address the accessibility of sufficient, safe, and nutritious food within their own communities, and helped build a network of organizations, agencies, and institutions to take on food security issues across the landscape. This network has coalesced into the South Central Pennsylvania Food System Alliance, which quarterly convenes to discuss the status of the food system in this region. More information on the “Closing the Food Gap” event can be found here.

Shippensburg University

Project: Cumberland Valley Rail-Trail Trail Users Survey

Shippensburg University, in partnership with the Cumberland Valley Rails-to-Trails Council, completed a detailed trail count and trail user survey of the Cumberland Valley Rail Trail. The University utilized infrared electronic counters strategically positioned along the completed 11-mile stretch of the rail trail to create a rigorous estimate of the number of trail users. The study also was designed to identify use patterns. To supplement this data, a survey was created and distributed both in a printed format and electrically. Data obtained from this survey was utilized to create estimates for the economic impact of the trail within the community. Importantly, this project has demonstrated a potential methodology for implementing similar estimates of recreational use on trails throughout the South Mountain region. Read the report here.

Franklin County Visitors Bureau

Project: South Mountain Mobile Phone App

The Franklin County Visitors Bureau spearheaded an initiative to build a mobile phone app to enable residents and visitors to explore and experience the countless recreation and entertainment options that the South Mountain landscape has on offer. By engaging the Cumberland Valley Visitors Bureau, the Gettysburg Convention and Visitors Bureau and the York County Visitors Bureau, FCVB was able to compile a mobile phone app that highlights over 75 destinations across the landscape. Further, the app highlights five pre-set thematic tours that are designed to guide visitors along themes throughout the landscape. Learn more about the South Mountain Mobile App here.

Appalachian Trail Museum

Project: Appalachian Trail Museum Rampi-theater Installation

The Appalachian Trail Museum completed an extensive outdoor landscape and construction project to complete an ADA-compliant ramp structure to allow access to the expanded and newly renovated lower floor of the museum. The Rampi-theater not only allows accessible entry to both floors of the museum, but, with a re-routing of the Appalachian Trail through this section of Pine Grove Furnace, also creates an ADA-compliant section of the world’s foremost long distance hiking trail.

Borough of Gettysburg

Project: Gettysburg Inner Loop Biser Trail Connector

The Borough of Gettysburg, in collaboration with the Healthy Adams Bicycle/Pedestrian, Inc., oversaw a project to resurface and widen a 1/3 mile segment of the existing Biser Fitness Trail at the Gettysburg Area Recreation Park. This trail widening project is the represents the first section of the Gettysburg Inner Loop to be completed. Gettysburg is a gateway in many ways to the South Mountain landscape, and, with the GIL Project, the Borough and its partners are actively working to build a vibrant community with access to pedestrian and bicycle-friendly transportation options that connect key destinations within the Borough and its surrounding landscape.

Greene Township

Project: Greene Township Trail Feasibility Study

Greene Township undertook a feasibility study for an approximately 14- mile trail that follows the Conococheague Creek to connect the city of Chambersburg to Caledonia State Park. The study allowed the township to: (1) engage interested stakeholders in a public process leading to the identification of a proposed trail corridor; (2) review the current conditions of the proposed trail corridor; (3) understand property ownership patterns and begin to discuss and address potential concerns by owners; (4) consider right-of-way issues; and (5) estimate project costs. With the completed feasibility study, the township has demonstrated for itself that a trail is feasible, and is beginning to consider appropriate steps for achieving the creation of the trail. Equally importantly, the township has built a network of partners to participate in the process; partners include the County Planning Office, Guilford Township, Chambersburg Borough, the Greene Township Sewer Authority, Wilson College and private businesses.

Cumberland County Historical Society

Project: Pine Grove Area Historical Interpretation

The Cumberland County Historical Society lead a project to develop a historical exhibition entitled Pine Grove: A Lasting Legacy, which focused on four distinct activities in the Pine Grove area: the iron industrial complex at Pine Grove Furnace, the Civilian Conservation Corps Camp #51 (1933-1942), the Prisoner of War Interrogation Center (1942-1946), and the Camp Michaux Church Camp (1946-1972). In addition to the year-long exhibit at the CCHS Museum, the Historical Society also partnered with the Central Pennsylvania Conservancy and the Pine Grove Furnace State Park to install a permanent exhibit in the renovated Ironmaster’s Mansion. To learn more about the Pine Grove: A Lasting Legacy exhibit, click here.

Pennsylvania Parks and Forest Foundation

Project: Biodiversity Restoration Project at Pine Grove Furnace State Park

The Pennsylvania Parks and Forest Foundation managed a grant project on behalf of the Friends of Pine Grove Furnace State Park that helped protect a historical area within Pine Grove Furnace State Park by implementing invasive species control methods. Partnering with the park, Boyer Nursery, the Central Pennsylvania Conservancy, and the Michaux Forest Association, the Friends of Pine Grove manually removed invasive species from the Furnace Stack historical area in the park and planted native plants. Additionally, partners designed and installed an educational kiosk with information about the project, invasive species, and the value of preserving biodiversity.

Cumberland Valley Appalachian Trail Club

Project: Trindle Road Trailhead Improvements

The Cumberland Valley Appalachian Trail Club collaborated with the Middlesex Township and the Cumberland Valley Visitors Bureau to construct a formal parking lot along Trindle Road (Rte. 641) in Middlesex Township. This parking lot replaced an informal though frequently used (and hence often muddy) parking area, and significantly improves access to the Appalachian Trail through the Cumberland Valley. The formal parking lot now has space for eight vehicles, and is supplemented with interpretive signage and a new information kiosk.

Cumberland Valley Rails-to-Trails Council

Project: Installing Interpretative Signage along the Cumberland Valley Rail Trail

In conjunction with the Newville Borough and the Cumberland Valley Visitors Bureau, the Cumberland Valley Rail Trail Council designed and installed thirteen interpretive signs along the existing segments of the Rail Trail. Designed to enrich the experience of trail users, these signs shared information on the history of the Cumberland Valley Railroad and the rich farmland that abuts the trail on either side.

2010 Funding Round

Cumberland County Planning Department

Project: Mount Holly Marsh Preserve

The Cumberland County Planning Department partnered with The Nature Conservancy and the Cumberland County Conservation District to conduct needed trail improvements at the Mount Holly Marsh Preserve, a 900-acre natural area near Mount Holly Springs, PA. In conjunction with the trail maintenance and expansion efforts, the partners increased outreach and promotion of the Preserve to increase public appreciation and use. These efforts included the creation and distribution of a trail guide, an update of the trailhead display board, and the addition of information to the County website. For more information on the Mount Holly Marsh, click here or here. To download the trail guide, click here.

Strawberry Hill Nature Preserve

Project: Create and Host Inaugural South Mountain Outdoors

Strawberry Hill Nature Preserve partnered with PennTrails, Inc., to develop and implement South Mountain Outdoors as a Labor Day celebration of the outdoor recreation and entertainment opportunities that exist on the South Mountain landscape. South Mountain Outdoors was designed to be a “dispersed festival” – with events and activities occurring simultaneously across the South Mountain landscape over the Labor Day weekend. This inaugural celebration was highly successful for building collaboration amongst public and private partners, and South Mountain Outdoors continued as an annual event for three years; in 2014, South Mountain Outdoors was suspended due to logistical challenges and resource constraints.

Boiling Springs Civic Association

Project: Community Signage Plan and Implementation

The Boiling Springs Civic Association partnered with the South Middleton Township to develop a signage plan for interpretive signage and way-finding signage to enhance visitor and citizen experiences within the greater South Middleton community. The project draws attention to the historic, natural, and recreational assets of the community. This project facilitated the development and installation of an initial phase of the signage, with the community’s historic and heritage resources emphasized.

Arendtsville Borough

Project: Gateway Narrows Interpretive Project

The Arendstville Borough, in Adams County, oversaw a project to develop and install interpretive panels and “South Mountain Fruit Belt” branding sign at the Arendstville Community Park. With support from the Adams County Department of Environmental Services and Boyer’s Nurseries, this project highlights the historical and cultural significance of the South Mountain landscape, including its influence in the French and Indian War, the role of its forested lands in supporting the iron and timber industries, its influence on the birth of the fruit industry, and its relevance as a land of plenty (a breadbasket) during the Civil War.

Cumberland County Historical Society

Project: Camp Michaux Recognition and Development

The Cumberland County Historical Society, in partnership with Michaux State Forest, oversaw an effort to continue the development of the Camp Michaux historical site while simultaneously working to have its significance formally recognized. Camp Michaux is an historical site within Michaux that was built as Civilian Conservation Corp camp before serving as a secret P.O.W. interrogation center during World War II. This project included opening trails throughout the camp and clearing individual sites from overgrown vegetation; a self-guided walking tour guidebook likewise was produced and keyed to numbered posts installed throughout the camp. Finally, project resulted in the installation of an official State Historical Marker for the camp. For more information about Camp Michaux, click here. To download the walking tour guidebook, click here.

2009 Funding Round

Capital RC&D

Project: Developing the South Mountain Geo-Trail

Geo-caching is an adventure sport/hobby ideal for families. Participants visit designated sites in a “treasure-hunt” type experience. Capital RC&D collaborated with the region’s visitors bureaus to connect various a suite of farms and farm markets, wineries, historic sites, forestlands, unique water features, and bustling recreation assets within the South Mountain landscape into a “Geo-Trail.” In addition to designating sites and creating the trail on the official website, Capital RC&D creating branding elements and created a passport for the South Mountain Geo-Trail. The trail was designed to develop awareness of the landscape’s assets, to increase visitation to the participating host locations, and to create a family-friend recreational opportunity within the landscape. Click here to learn more about the South Mountain Geo-Trail.

Cumberland County Planning Department

Project: The Cumberland Valley Local Food, Farm and Outdoor Guide

In collaboration with the Cumberland Valley Visitors Bureau, Cumberland County Economic Development Corporation and the Capital Resource Conservation & Development Area Council, the Cumberland County Planning Department compiled and published a Local Food, Farm and Outdoor Attractions Guide for the Cumberland Valley. The project was intended to promote local agricultural operations and outdoor recreation locations within the Cumberland Valley, and to educate the public on the importance of agriculture and our abundant natural resources to the quality of life Cumberland County residents. The guide includes a directory of farmers markets, roadside stands, pick your own operations, farm-stays and other agri-tourism locations. In addition, the guide includes information on outdoor recreation opportunities available in Cumberland County. Click here to access a digital copy of the guide. You can also pick up hard copies of the guide at the Cumberland County Visitors Bureau, the Appalachian Trail Conservancy Mid-Atlantic Regional Office, and several other locations.

Land Conservancy of Adams County

Project: Tales of Preservation Booklet

The Land Conservancy of Adams County partnered with the Adams County Agricultural Land Preservation Program, the Watershed Alliance of Adams County, the Gettysburg National Military Park and the Eisenhower National Historic Site to compile a handbook on the how and why of preserving land. The main goal for the booklet was to raise awareness of opportunities to preserve land and to inspire landowners who may be interested in preserving their land to do so. The booklet captures the stories 14 properties that have been preserved throughout Adams County. Click here to access a digital copy of the Tales of Preservation booklet. The Land Conservancy of Adams County has subsequently produced a video as well, which can be viewed here.

The Appalachian Trail Museum

Project: Earl Shaffer Shelter Exhibit

The Appalachian Trail Museum, located in Pine Grove Furnace, opened in 2010 thanks to untold hours of volunteer effort. In preparation for this opening, the South Mountain Mini-Grant enabled the installation of the Earl Shaffer shelter exhibit in the Museum and the design and implementation of interpretative panels. Click here to learn more about the Appalachian Trail Museum.

Central Pennsylvania Conservancy

Project: Community Supported Forests Booklet

The Central Pennsylvania Conservancy collaborated with Penn State University and DCNR to compile and publish the South Mountain Community Supported Forests booklet. The booklet is a guide to all things wood-related, including where to buy local furniture, wood pellets, timber frames, and more. Starting as a survey of local forest businesses, the booklet compiles information about these businesses into one location and is designed to understand the condition and needs of local businesses, make connections between land owners and these businesses, and help inform and promote a buy local forest products program. The South Mountain landscape’s scenic woodlands and ridges define the character of the landscape and are critical to our quality of life. Abundant, clean water, un-fragmented habit for wildlife and diverse recreational opportunities are all enjoyed in our forested landscape. This guide is designed to be resource of consumers interested in supporting our local wood-related economy as a means of keeping our working forests healthy, beautiful and productive. Click here to download a digital copy of the booklet.

Franklin County Visitors Bureau

Project: Road to Freedom: The Underground Railroad through South Mountain, A Documentary Film

The Franklin County Visitors Bureau oversaw the development of an interpretive program – highlighted by a documentary film 15 minutes in length – that captures the story of freedom-seeking African-Americans and their connection to the ironworks in the South Mountain landscape during the Civil War Era. The Thaddeus Stevens Ironworks, located in the heart of the South Mountain landscape on the grounds of Caledonia State Park, is central to both the story of the nineteenth century iron ore industry and the Underground Railroad in the South Mountain area. Capitalizing on resources such as this, the film is paired with an audio tour and a map and guide. Click here to watch the documentary. More information on the audio tour can be found here.

Adams County Conservation District

Project: Vernal Pool Workshops

The Adams County Conservation District, in partnership with Strawberry Hill Nature Preserve, conducted five hands-on public workshops on vernal pools. Vernal pools are prevalent along South Mountain, but a lack of awareness about their ecological importance exists in surrounding communities. The strong development pressure in the South Mountain area also presents a threat, and could cause a detrimental effect on vernal pools if these are left misunderstood. These workshops were designed to target the general public, local schools and municipal officials in the surrounding communities of the South Mountain, with the goals of increasing understanding of vernal pools and promoting the protection of vulnerable species.

Shippensburg University

Project: South Mountain Public Survey

Under guidance of the Department of Communication/Journalism at Shippensburg University, a mail survey solicited information from households within the South Mountain landscape. The survey was designed to give the Partnership information on the general public’s perceptions on issues of quality of life and the goals of the Partnership. The final report was intended to identify constituencies’ desires and be helpful in enabling partners to prioritize goals.

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