The new Franklin County 11/30 Visitor Center was the site of the 8th Annual “Power of the Partnership breakfast, coordinated by the South Mountain Partnership in early February. Franklin County Commissioners David Keller, Robert Thomas, and Robert Ziobrowski welcomed over 130 attendees from Adams, Cumberland, Franklin, and York Counties, highlighting the historic, agricultural, and recreational value of the county they represent.

The South Mountain Partnership is one of seven landscape initiatives in Pennsylvania, which support investment and action around sustainability, conservation, community revitalization, and recreational projects. Cindy Dunn, Secretary of PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR), spoke to the value of the state’s conservation landscape efforts and the success of the South Mountain Partnership (SMP), often a model of the effort.

Suzanne Dixon, CEO and President of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC), shared ATC’s new initiative–the Wild East. The Wild East brings greater attention to the Appalachian Trail (A.T.) and the lands surrounding the 2,192-mile footpath. Both the Wild East and South Mountain landscapes are efforts to secure access to open, natural spaces and the historic, cultural, and aesthetic assets they bring.

The breakfast program focused on profiles of action along the South Mountain landscape, including Franklin County’s collective actions to oppose a 230KV, double line transmission project, proposed by Transource PA and slated to traverse more than 29 miles of the county. Speaking were Lori Rice of the Franklin County Stop Transource community group. Lori, a business owner and farm wife, discussed the impacts on the watershed, karst system, agricultural land, and the community culture of Franklin County. Mike Ross, president of Franklin County Area Development Corporation, addressed Franklin County’s balanced approach to development and the reasons FCADC did not support the project, noting the county approach to economic development and citing the zero-value of the project to PA.

The South Mountain Partnership awarded six 2018 Mini Grants, totaling $50,000. The grant program commenced in 2009 and has supported more than 60 projects, awarding $440,000 in funds and leveraging just under $900,000 in matching investment.

Mike Eschenmann, DCNR Internal Lead of South Mountain Partnership, awarded Karen Lutz, recently retired as the Mid-Atlantic Regional Director of ATC, with the ‘Spirit of South Mountain’ award. The award recognized Lutz’s long-standing efforts to advance the Partnership.

“Throughout our 13-year history, SMP has consistently relied on diverse partners to be the ‘Power’ that positively impacts the South Mountain landscape of Adams, Cumberland, Franklin, and York Counties. The gathering is invaluable as the region seeks to better conserve and manage agricultural, natural, recreational, and historical assets,” said Katie Hess, director of South Mountain Partnership.