Building on our past to create a legacy for our future

Connecting our environmental and social history to today's issues.

The 2014 Season of the South Mountain Speakers Series Kicks Off on March 27th with a look at the Forests of South Mountain

The fifth season of the South Mountain Speakers Series will begin Thursday, March 27, at Penn State Mont Alto, with a talk on the history, diversity and current management of the forest resource in the South Mountain region.
This event, "The Rothrock Legacy: A Forum on the Past and Current Conditions of Penn’s Woods,” will be held at 7 p.m. at the General Studies Auditorium at the Penn State Mont Alto campus, Franklin County.  It is free and open to the public.

“During the last 130 years the region’s cut and burned over forest landscape has been transformed into a patchwork mosaic of fertile agricultural valleys and shady wooded ridges,” said Jon Peterson, an environmental planner with the Appalachian Trail Conservancy and the lead of the South Mountain Partnership.  “The lecture will explore the past, present and future of forestry in the South Mountain region.”

The forum will include retired USDA Forest Service forester Joe Barnard, who will provide a summary of how Joseph Rothrock’s passion led to the protection of thousands of acres of Pennsylvania’s now productive hardwood forest, as well as the establishment of Pennsylvania’s Forestry School at Mont Alto.

DCNR Assistant State Forester Matt Keefer will detail today’s current condition of south central Pennsylvania’s forests and outline the opportunities and threats to the current day-to-day management of the region’s private and public forests.

Nancy Baker, a private forest landowner, will provide a case history of 163-acre woodland she owns and manages. The first timber harvest on this forest land was conducted by her great grandfather in the 1860s. Baker’s forest is used today to demonstrate a professionally developed and implemented Pennsylvania Forest Stewardship Plan and it was the first Pennsylvania property accepted into the Chesapeake Bay Watershed’s Forestry for the Bay Program.

A question-and-answer session will follow the three presentations.

This lecture is supported by the Pennsylvania Forestry Association and the Penn State Mont Alto Forestry Club.

The annual South Mountain Speakers Series is organized by the South Mountain Partnership and is envisioned as a revival of the talks given by Joseph Rothrock in the late 19th century as part of his work to preserve and restore Pennsylvania’s forests and natural landscape. The fifth season of the Speakers Series is sponsored by the Cumberland Valley Visitors Bureau.

The South Mountain Partnership was sparked by DCNR’s effort to engage communities, local partners and state agencies and identify funding opportunities to conserve high-quality natural and cultural resources while enhancing the region’s economic viability. It is a public-private partnership between DCNR and the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, and has grown into a coalition of citizens, businesses, non-profit organizations and government representatives in Adams, Cumberland, Franklin and York counties, working together to protect and enhance the South Mountain landscape.

South Mountain is at the northern end of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Communities in the 400,000-acre region have thrived off fertile limestone agricultural lands, the timber that fed iron furnaces, plentiful game and wildlife, and abundant pure spring water that is captured by the mountains’ permeable soils and released into the valleys. 

The South Mountain Speakers Series 

Returns for a Fifth Season!

The South Mountain Partnership announces lineup for the 2014 South Mountain Speakers Series

The South Mountain Partnership is pleased to present a wonderful lineup of events as the 2014 South Mountain Speakers Series. This year marks the 5th Season of the Series, and the Cumberland Valley Visitors Bureau is sponsoring the Anniversary Season of the Speakers Series. Check out the line-up of featured events below and be sure to mark your calendar for what promises to be a wonderful range of talks over the coming months!

The Rothrock Legacy: A Forum on the Past and Current Condition of Penn’s Woods
Thursday, March 27, 2014
Location: Penn State Mont Alto Campus – General Studies Auditorium
7:00 – 9:00 PM

In collaboration with the Pennsylvania Forestry Association and the PSU-Mont Alto Forestry Club, the South Mountain Partnership is pleased to present a forum that will look at the past, present and future of forestry in the South Mountain region. Over the last 130 years the South Mountain Region’s cut over and burned over forest landscape has been transformed into a “quilt like” patchwork mosaic of fertile agricultural valleys and shady wooded ridges. The talk will touch about the history, diversity, and current management of South Central Pennsylvania’s hardwood forest resource.

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Hallowed Grounds, Endangered History: Preserving the Historic African-American Burial Grounds of the South Mountain Region
Thursday, April 17, 2014
Shippensburg University - Old Main Chapel
7:00 - 8:30 PM 

Over the last two hundred and fifty years, African American churches and organizations have established dozens of burial grounds in communities throughout the South Mountain region. These historic cemeteries provide remarkable sites for documenting the rich African American history of the region, including such issues as the history of slavery, emancipation, segregation, and African-American military service in the United States Civil War.  Today, many of these historic burial grounds have vanished, or they are threatened by a combination of weathering, neglect, vandalism, and development. 
    In collaboration with the Pennsylvania Hallowed Grounds, the South Mountain Partnership is pleased to present a public talk by Dr. Steven Burg, Professor of History at Shippensburg University, discussing the ways that the historic burial grounds of the South Mountain can be used to discover the region’s rich African-American history.  A panel discussion will then consider the threats posed to these sites, and a variety of efforts that are currently underway to preserve, protect, and share the stories of these hallowed grounds.

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The Changing Face of Agriculture in the South Mountain Region: Re-creating the Cider Industry
The National Apple Harvest Festival – Saturday, Oct 4; Sunday, Oct 5; Saturday, Oct 11; and Sunday, Oct 12
Location: Arendtsville, National Apple Harvest Festival
2:00 - 3:00 PM each day of the festival

The Gettysburg Wine and Fruit Trail partners with the South Mountain Partnership to present an evening focusing on the changing nature of agriculture in the South Mountain region. Learn how four family farms found renewed economic success by turning back to an old use of cider for a new audience: Hard Cider and Organic Sweet Cider.  Hauser Estate Winery will discuss the effect of their hard cider production and how it transitioned their farm and business; Reid's Winery will discuss the planting and use of heirloom cider apple and their farm's hard cider production; Big Hill Winery and Cider Works will discuss creating a modern farm business based on the old value added product of apple cider, sweet and hard.  Oyler's Organic Farms and Market will discuss transitioning from conventional apple growing to organic apple growing and sweet cider production. 

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Changing Climate and the South Mountain Region
Thursday, November 13, 2014
Location: Dickinson College, Stern Center 
7:00 - 8:30 PM 

Climate change is a controversial topic, and explanations for its cause are debated in government, in the media and around the dinner table. Look further and the long and short term ramifications of climate change emerge, and may be investigated at multiple levels, from global to local. Join us for an evening of information and discussion about how climate change is affecting South Mountain and Pennsylvania. Shippensburg University earth science professor Tim Hawkins will draw upon his own research to describe historic weather and climate patterns and extremes for the South Mountain region, including trends found along the Appalachian Trail. Projections of future shifts in climate, as well as the important local, state, federal and international decisions that surround these changes will also be included. Dr. Hawkins will be joined by a panel of experts who will address additional factors, including alterations in Pennsylvania habitats, agriculture and flood management.

Panel: Ben Wenk, Three Springs Fruit Farm; Dr. Marc McDill, Assistant Professor of Forest Resource Management at Penn State; Dr. Jeff Niemitz, Professor, Department of Earth Science, Dickinson College.