Nominations For Spirit of South Mountain Award

Nominations For Spirit of South Mountain Award

Each year the South Mountain Partnership recognizes an individual, project, or organization that has made significant contributions to advancing a positive and sustainable future for the South Mountain landscape.

We need your help spreading the word about this honor and nominating the next recipient. This award is community supported through nominations from across the region.

Nominate a great person, place, or project.

Nomination forms must be submitted by Friday, December 3, 2021; award presentation will occur during the 11th annual “Power of the Partnership” celebration January 21, 2022. To nominate, download the form here. Email the completed form to Julia Chain at


South Mountain Mini Grant Program

South Mountain Mini Grant Program

The 2021 South Mountain Mini-Grant Program is now open! The grant program catalyzes on-the-ground projects that protect and promote the South Mountain region in Adams, Cumberland, Franklin, and York Couties. Submit your short pre-application form by Friday, May 28, 2021. Only those who pre-apply may submit a final application. For more information and to download the application, please click here.

Funding for South Mountain Mini-Grants is provided by the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources through the Pennsylvania Environmental Stewardship Fund. Grants are awarded through the South Mountain Partnership, with assistance from the Appalachian Trail Conservancy. Our mini-grants leverage a return of more than double and fund community-driven projects that provide lasting improvements and benefits to Adams, Cumberland, Franklin, and York counties.

The South Mountain Landscape  is a unique and special place that is worth conserving and celebrating. Join the South Mountain Partnership as it celebrates the landscape and the work of partners to invest in a sustainable, healthy future for the South Mountain region. Also, on tap is the Spirit of South Mountain Award and South Mountain Mini-Grants. Anyone interested in making the South Mountain region a better place to live, work, and play is welcome.

Join us in welcoming Secretary Dunn of the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Commissioner DiFilippo of Cumberland County, plus an impressive panel to the 10th annual event! Register here.


Optional Networking (8:00) – Informal virtual networking

Welcome and Opening Remarks (8:30am) Secretary Cindy Dunn, PA Dept of Conservation and Natural Resources and Commissioner DiFilippo, Cumberland County

Profiles of Action Panel- New and old faces will join us to discuss the evolution of the South Mountain Partnership, the need for preserving and promoting this landscape, why the diverse work of our Partners and programs matter, and the value that Landscape Conservation brings to the region.

2021 Plans, Accomplishments in 2020 – Reconnect with the Partnership to understand our 2020 work. Then, in with the new as we share our plans for 2021.

South Mountain Mini-Grant Award – Hear about the exciting projects that partners are undertaking in 2021 as recipients of South Mountain Mini-Grants.

Spirit of South Mountain Award – This meaningful award recognizes individuals, projects or organizations that have gone above-and-beyond to advancing a positive future for the South Mountain landscape.

Pennsylvania’s Conservation Landscapes Show the Value of Places Like the South Mountain Region

Pennsylvania’s Conservation Landscapes Show the Value of Places Like the South Mountain Region

The South Mountain Conservation Landscape is one of eight such landscapes across the Commonwealth that the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) recognizes for their unique cultural, historical, recreational, and economic features. Since 2004, Pennsylvania’s Conservation Landscape Program has used place-based partnerships to drive strategic investments and actions around sustainability, conservation, community revitalization, and recreation projects.

In 2019, an independent evaluation of the program was conducted to better understand the impact it is having, identify best practices, and recommend ways for improving and sustaining it.  Findings from the evaluation can be found in the recently released report, 2019 Pennsylvania Conservation Landscapes – Models for Successful Collaboration, which can be downloaded at

The report identifies best management practices such as the power of partnerships, collaboration makes connections possible despite development pressures, and public investments are the foundation for locally-based entrepreneurship. DCNR and its conservation landscape partners in the South Mountain and across the state have already begun implementing these and other recommendations and will continue in 2020 and beyond to make Pennsylvania’s Conservation Landscapes a model for place-based partnerships across the United States.

The South Mountain conservation landscape, which encompasses portions of Adams, Cumberland, Franklin, and York counties, is made up of hundreds of partners from municipal, county and state governments, local businesses, nonprofits, academia, and concerned citizens. Since our creation in 2006, we have many successes to celebrate. This includes the White Rocks land acquisition project that ultimately protected 850 acres of valuable forestland on South Mountain in Cumberland County. The site was under serious threat of development and its protection helped provide a buffer and scenic viewshed of the Appalachian Trail.

“The South Mountain Partnership invests in building the capacity of its partners and uses a collaborative approach to tackle large projects like the White Rocks acquisition,” said Katie Hess. Director of the South Mountain Partnership. “That’s led to significant wins for the landscape including the conservation of 850-acres of valuable forested land on South Mountain, the rebirth of the Craighead House as a cultural and educational asset, and a current focus on clean water efforts for local communities and the Chesapeake Bay.”

To learn more about the South Mountain conservation landscape and our work for 2020 and beyond, please visit


Franklin County Hosts Fall South Mountain Partnership Meeting

Franklin County Hosts Fall South Mountain Partnership Meeting

Twice annually—in spring and fall, the South Mountain Partnership holds a meeting with partners as well as interested businesses, non-profits, and individuals to learn more about current initiative and on-going projects. The Fall Partnership Meeting is slated for Friday, September 13, 8 AM to Noon, with an optional lunch.

The meeting  will include:

  • Welcome by Franklin County Commissioners David Keller and Robert Thomas and South Mountain Partnership Director Katie Hess
  • Update – Proposed Independence Energy Connection Electric Line
  • Lancaster Clean Water Partners – best management practice implementation with municipal, business, and non-profit partners
  • Precision Mapping for Water Quality Programs
  • Chesapeake Conservancy – discussion around creating a regional tool for planning and reporting
  • Programs to support Watershed Implementation Plans (WIPIIIs)

It is easy to register on Eventbrite. Go here to sign up.

The Fall Partnership Meeting hopes to connect local and county agencies and officials to technical and funding resources for planning and implementing WIP IIIs – all types of partners have a role to play and a contribution to make. In addition, the meeting will facilitate discussion and next steps for working as a region to attract more implementation resources to the counties and WIP teams in the South Mountain landscape (portions of Adams, Cumberland, Franklin, and York counties).

South Mountain Partnership meetings help to build and strengthen a network of organizations working throughout the region to preserve and conserve the landscape known as South Mountain, the eastern terminus of the Blue Ridge. Meetings are a way to spark conversation and collaboration across political and sectorial boundaries and help partners understand opportunities to engage in the on-going work of the Partnership. Learn more about the Partnership here.