President’s Message: Connecting Partners/Linking Landscapes
As you learned in your membership renewal letter, the Conservancy successfully completed its acquisition of 36 acres at the Shikellamy bluffs in southern Union County. It was two years ago that the Linking Landscapes Initiative — our vision for preserving/establishing connectivity of natural spaces throughout the area — was adopted by the board. But the concept was meant to go beyond the environmental connections. It meant, as well, to connect with other organizations and individuals of like mind to achieve conservation goals. Making those links/connections were essential to allowing us to realize success in this project that took nearly two years to bring to closure.
While several partners were mentioned in our letter, we want to acknowledge a few specific groups and individuals who contributed in special ways to our success. It was Trish Carothers, Susquehanna Greenways Project coordinator and Union County planner Shawn McLaughlin who initially prompted the Conservancy to acquire the land. Shawn then took the lead in preparing applications for state grants. His knowledge of the process and experience in addressing all elements of the applications were invaluable to us. John and Nancy Showers opened their home to provide a brunch at which Conservancy representatives were invited to present project goals with the hope of generating interest among attendees in contributing to the project through the Conservancy’s land acquisition fund. We received important letters of support from Representative Fred Keller, Senator Gene Yaw, Union County Commissioners, Union Township Supervisors, Bob Garrett of the Greater Susquehanna Chamber of Commerce, the Rivertown Coalition, Susquehanna Greenways Partnership, and business owners, Betsy and Allen Quant of Canoe Susquehanna. Substantial financial and/or in-kind donations came to us from the Degenstein Foundation, Union County Commissioners, Martha Barrick of Coldwell Banker, Lewisburg, and many individuals. And we could not have done any of this without the support of our members.
We are striving to build upon this success. The recent organization of the Conservation Union by Conservancy board member Ryan Sabo will help to bring still more players together to collaboratively achieve common conservation goals throughout the region. With final repayment of our loan, the 36 acre property will be handed to the state park system. Its adjacency to existing parkland links mature forest habitat, protects unique micohabitats of the cliff face and preserves magnificent scenic views of the Susquehanna River watershed for all to enjoy now and for generations to come. The Conservancy will work toward building its land acquisition fund so that we are in better position to react proactively as other parcels such as this, key to our Linking Landscapes model, become available.
For this acquisition to come to fruition the cooperative efforts among partners was essential. It will remain essential for future projects as well. Thanks to all for your continuing concern for our environment and support of our efforts.