Pennsylvania DCNR, Nature Conservancy to Celebrate Major Expansion of Kings Gap Environmental Education Center in Cumberland County
HARRISBURG, Pa., Oct. 20, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Richard J. Allan today announced that 1,077 acres in Penn and Cook townships, Cumberland County, including more than three miles of Irishtown Gap Hollow Run, will be added to Kings Gap Environmental Education Center.
There will be a public ceremony celebrating the acquisition at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 23.
“This new addition is almost completely forested and has been mostly untouched for a century. It is as pristine of a natural area as can be found anywhere in the South Mountain region,” Allan said. “Irishtown Gap Hollow Run, which flows through the property, is believed to support a large native trout population.”
The acquisition reunites the lands that were the original Cameron family estate that were split in the 1950s. The Nature Conservancy protected the first half of the property in the 1970s and transferred it to the state to become Kings Gap.
With the newly added land, Kings Gap now encompasses more than 2,530 acres. The grounds include 16 miles of hiking trails and the 32-room stone mansion that houses the center and training facility, and provides overnight accommodations.
DCNR invested almost $3.2 million in Growing Greener II funds to purchase the land, and was assisted in the transaction by The Nature Conservancy. Growing Greener II was a voter-approved bond issue.
“The comeback of South Mountain’s forests, streams and vernal pools is a testament to nature’s resilience and human resolve,” said Bill Kunze, executive director of The Nature Conservancy’s Pennsylvania Chapter. “This project is an important chapter in that comeback story and we commend the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources for its commitment to this cause. But the most important praise will come in spring, when the songs of woodland frogs and migratory songbirds will be welcomed by the people who will come here, just to listen.”
The new property, which helps protect the sweeping view of the Cumberland Valley enjoyed from the patio of the Cameron Mansion, has trails and roads that will be connected to the Kings Gap system.
There are plans to establish a 20-mile backpacking trail entirely on the newly-added property that will allow park staff to conduct two-day primitive camping trips, all within the park boundaries.
Kings Gap sits astride South Mountain, the landscape that is the core of the South Mountain Conservation Landscape Initiative that encompasses Adams, Cumberland, Franklin and York counties. The South Mountain Partnership working on the initiative, led by DCNR and the Appalachian Trail Conservancy with many others, promotes and hopes to encourage economic growth and revitalize local communities based on the abundance of recreational and heritage tourism opportunities in the region.
For more information on Pennsylvania’s 120 state parks and conservation areas, visit www.dcnr.state.pa.us (choose Find a Park).
Media contact: Christina Novak, 717-772-9101
SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources