By Fritz Schroeder
Leading the Lancaster Conservancy as the President and CEO is one of the greatest challenges and honors I could ever accept. My love of our local natural landscape began as a child in the river hills of Manor Township between the Conestoga and Little Conestoga rivers. These are the lands where I built forts, rode bikes, and learned to plant trees. It’s where we chose to raise our son, and where I live with my family today. I know how lucky we are to call this region home, how lucky we are to live among these rolling hills of farm and forested lands.
As an adult, my passion for our landscape grew through a desire to protect the creeks (or perhaps you call them cricks) of Lancaster County and inspired me to pursue a career in conservation. I’ve distributed native trees to city homeowners, helped design and install rain gardens, and stood on just about every flat roof in Lancaster City with the hopes that we would convert them to vegetation. To further the mission of protecting our waterways, we at the Conservancy created Lancaster Water Week, a celebration of our streams and rivers. I believe that the more we know and get to experience our waterways and the surrounding natural environment, the more we will care about them. It’s a premise at the center of what we do at the Lancaster Conservancy – people who have access to protected natural places will appreciate them and, in turn, want to protect them.
While we’ve experienced many successes as an organization, the fact remains that our environment is under constant threat. We embrace our role as protector of our natural lands and understand that managing these precious resources – our nature preserves – is a forever business. Our entire staff understands the significant responsibility we place on ourselves when we acquire new land and accept the challenge of stewarding it, knowing that the steps we take today will impact our landscape indefinitely.
Each land protection win and parcel acquired is followed by many hours of long-term preserve management planning, which strives to enhance the land’s ecological value while offering greater access for our community to experience nature’s beauty. Our stewardship team actively restores these forested lands, stream corridors, meadows, and wetlands while building and maintaining trails and infrastructure to make our nature preserves accessible.
We are encouraged to continue down this path because we see the positive impacts of our efforts. We see the dramatic increase of users on our trails. We see programs at our Climbers Run Nature Center continue to develop and fill up. We see our Volunteer Land Stewards provide countless hours in the field removing invasive species and engaging with preserve visitors. We see a community passionate about protecting our natural landscape, preserving these places too special to develop.
The Lancaster Conservancy is a thriving and growing land trust because of our focused mission to provide wild and forested lands and clean waterways for our community, forever. Our continued success is only made possible by you, our community of donors, volunteers, and nature enthusiasts. We could not achieve our goals without each of you embracing this shared vision.
Together, we will save these lands and the complex web of life that calls them home, and with that we, in truth, are saving ourselves.
To a Bright Future,
President & CEO