CONSERVANCY ACQUIRES 23 ACRE ADDITION TO WELSH MOUNTAIN NATURE PRESERVE AND HOSTS BIOBLITZ
Lancaster, PA – On September 14, the Lancaster Conservancy (“the Conservancy”) and partners gathered at the Welsh Mountain Nature Preserve to celebrate two occasions: the Conservancy’s acquisition of 23 acres in East Earl Township, expanding the Welsh Mountain Nature Preserve to 940 acres, and the Conservancy’s first 24-hour BioBlitz at the preserve.
Dedicated Science Teams comprised of experts from Millersville University and our many community partners searched this beautiful preserve identified more than 300 plants and animals. Family friendly activities like wildlife walks and the exploration of the headwater stream at Mill Creek provided an up close and personal connection to this biologically rich natural area. To learn more about the plant and animal wildlife discovered check out our Welsh Mountain nature atlas: https://www.natureatlas.org/all/welsh/.
Of particular focus, the public learned all about the invasive spotted lanternfly, an Asian insect wreaking havoc on forested areas and agricultural crops throughout the county. Learn more from https://extension.psu.edu/spotted-lanternfly.
The Welsh Mountain Nature Preserve sits in the federally-recognized Highlands region and is the only public protected natural land in East Earl Township. This 23 acre addition was 8 years in the making and represents the first addition to the preserve since 2016 when the Conservancy added 10 acres. The new tract is one of the last remaining forested properties adjacent to the preserve, which also borders Money Rocks County Park.
The Conservancy received a 2018 grant from the PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) to acquire the land. “DCNR salutes the Lancaster Conservancy in its long-term commitment to expanding natural lands in the area, and is proud to partner in this invaluable acquisition,” said Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn. “This addition can only enhance the Welsh Mountain Nature Preserve, which already is heavily visited by the public.” Matching contributions from the Ressler Mill Foundation, Lancaster County Community Foundation, and Conservancy Board member Michael Flanagan were critical components to fund this acquisition. The rest of the acquisition costs were fulfilled by the Welsh Mountain Fund, which is intended to provide for additions to and continued stewardship of the preserve. It consists of contributions from private individuals; Caernarvon, East Earl, and Salisbury Townships; and the Chester County Solid Waste Authority.
All 23 acres will be maintained as a public nature preserve in perpetuity, open to the public free of charge 365 days a year. The Welsh Mountain Nature Preserve is heavily used by people from all over the region. This addition expands opportunities for recreation while preserving the existing interior forest; when combined with the adjacent Money Rocks County Park, the 1,267 acres preserved for recreation and habitat represents the second largest contiguous forest in Lancaster County. This project expands the protected wildlife corridor and enhances security of the Pequea Creek and Mill Creek watersheds. “The Ressler Mill Foundation has always taken very seriously our mission to fulfill the wishes of the Ressler family,” said Harold E. Yoder Jr., Executive Director of the Ressler Mill Foundation. “The Lancaster Conservancy has certainly provided us opportunities over the years to do so, and we were pleased to once again support the lasting impact of the Conservancy’s mission to preserve the natural heritage of eastern Lancaster County by assisting with the acquisition of additional acres of forested land that extended the Welsh Mountain Nature Preserve. We wish the Lancaster Conservancy many years of continued success.”
The Welsh Mountain Nature Preserve is truly a project completed by the community, for the community. The Conservancy started acquiring tracts to make up what is now their biggest nature preserve in 2008. During this time, the financial crisis occurred, and they found themselves needing to raise over a half a million in lost grant funds. They were delighted to find a community eager to support their work and help fill in the gaps. The Conservancy formed the Welsh Mountain Advisory Committee with several partners, and the Committee continues to oversee stewardship and land acquisition projects at the preserve, providing input and raising funds in support of these initiatives. Members include Caernarvon and East Earl Township Supervisors, the Mayor of New Holland Borough, local business, civic leaders, and private donors. Local donors and East Earl Township staff continue to help manage a multi-use parking lot that can accommodate school buses, accessible vehicles, buggies, and horse trailers.
The Welsh Mountain Nature Preserve contains the Conservancy’s only accessible trail compliant with ADA standards. Maintaining this contiguous forest is crucial to the protection of air and water quality, native habitat, and public recreation. ”The Community Foundation is thrilled to contribute to the Welsh Mountain Nature Preserve’s expansion,” said David Koser, Director of Programs at the Lancaster County Community Foundation. “Healthy forests are so critical to our county’s air and water quality, and preserving what little is left of them provides significant health and recreational benefits to our residents.”
The Lancaster Conservancy is grateful to all the partners working together on this critical acquisition and is excited to see the community enjoying nature in the Welsh Mountain Nature Preserve at our BioBlitz event and every day this preserve is open to the public.