CHAMBERSBURG- The Capitol Theatre in downtown Chambersburg hosted the South Mountain Partnership’s 5th annual meeting. Franklin County Commissioners and Greene Township supervisors were honored with the Spirit of South Mountain Award.

This annual award recognizes individuals, projects or organizations that make significant contributions to advancing a positive and sustainable future for the South Mountain landscape. This year, the award went to the Franklin County Commissioners and Greene Township Supervisors in cooperation with the Eagle Rock Project, led by The Conservation Fund, which worked to conserve over 1,100 acres of land in Greene Township.

The Conservation Fund worked for more than 7 years to acquire and transfer the land to the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

Working with Kyle Shenk from the Conservation Fund, Katie Hess, director of the South Mountain Partnership, said she learned first-hand about the direct cooperation between local government and the project.

“Gaining forces makes our partnership stronger together,” Hess said.

Hand-crafted and carved wooden cutting boards, crafted by a South Mountain artisan, were given as a symbol of the award. Accepting the awards were Franklin County Commissioner David Keller, Commissioner Bob Thomas and Shawn Corwell, Greene Township Supervisor.

Commissioner Keller noted the value of the Marcellus Shale funds stating, “These funds helped to support projects like the Eagle Rock acquisition.”

The South Mountain Partnership announced $74,000 in mini-grants for six projects in 2016. These projects include restoration of the Appalachian Trail Museum, the Mount Holly Marsh Creek Preserve forest management plan project, Mountain Creek footbridge project for Pine Grove Furnace State Park, the Heart & Soul Project through the Greater Carlisle Project, Carlisle Iron Works Furnace Structural Repairs Project and the LEAF Inc. Leaders of the Local Agriculture System Pop-Up Museum project.

The partnership also announced its selection as a participant in the Regional Capacity Initiative through the Chesapeake Bay Trust and Chesapeake Bay Funders Network. The effort will improve quality of life and protect and restore natural resources. Out of 29 applicants, only five were selected with South Mountain Partnership representing Pennsylvania.

The Franklin County Visitors Bureau and the Penn National Golf Course and Golf Course Community are partners of the South Mountain Partnership, an alliance of organizations working to preserve and enhance the cultural and natural assets of the South Mountain Landscape in Central Pennsylvania. The partnership is led by the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and the Appalachian Trail Conservancy and has grown into a coalition of citizens, businesses, non-profits, and government agencies and officials. Together, these partners collaborate in conserving the South Mountain landscape to enrich the quality of life and sustain the sense of place of the region’s citizens and communities.

The Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources’ primary mission is to maintain, improve and protect state parks, to manage state forest lands to assure their long-term health, sustainability and economic use; to provide information on Pennsylvanian’s ecological and geologic resources; and to administer grant and technical assistance programs that will benefit rivers conservation, trails and greenways, local recreation, regional heritage conservation and environmental education programs across Pennsylvania.

The Appalachian Trail Conservancy’s mission is to preserve and manage the Appalachian Trail, ensuring that its vast natural beauty and priceless cultural heritage can be shared and enjoyed today, tomorrow and for centuries to come.

For more information: contact Katie Hess, director of South Mountain Partnership, 717.609.4581