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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.