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South Mountain Speaker Series to Feature Four Lectures in 2014

News for Immediate Release 

March 12, 2014

South Mountain Speaker Series to Feature Four Lectures in 2014

March Event Focused on Past, Future of Forestry in the Region

Harrisburg – The fifth season of an innovative lecture 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.

Additional topics in 2014 will include South Mountain historic African-American burial grounds, re-creating the cider industry in the region and the impacts of weather and climate patterns.

“For the fifth season of the South Mountain Speakers Series we’ll continue with four events on a range of issues meant to engage citizens in conserving the South Mountain landscape by learning from our past,” said Jon Peterson, a planner with the Appalachian Trail Conservancy who is coordinating the committee on the speaker series.

The first 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 Forestry 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,” Peterson said.  “The lecture will explore the past, present and future of foresty 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, the Penn State Mont Alto Forestry Club and the South Mountain Partnership.

The annual South Mountain Speakers Series 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 three additional lectures this year will include:

  • “Hallowed Grounds, Endangered History: Preserving the Historic African-American Burial Grounds of the South Mountain Region,” April 17 at Shippensburg University;
  • “The Changing Face of Agriculture in the South Mountain Region: Re-creating the Cider Industry,” Oct. 4-5 and 11-12 at the National Apple Harvest Festival, Arendtsville; and
  • “Changing Climate and the South Mountain Region,” Nov. 13 at Dickinson College.

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.

For more information about the speaker series, visit or call the Appalachian Trail Conservancy at 717-258-5771.

Some of the earlier lectures in the speaker series can be found on YouTube at

Media contact: Christina Novak, 717-772-9101

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