Schuylkill Highlands Goals
Goal 2:

Encouraging Sustainable Development that Respects the Cultural, Historic, Recreational and Natural Resources of the Schuylkill Highlands.

Schuylkill Highlands Compatible Economic Development Plan

The Schuylkill Highlands Partnership is promoting sustainable economic development in communities through recreational, cultural, historic and natural resource eco-tourism.

Partners are working on several early action initiatives  collaboratively to promote this goal and  inform visitors and residents of the opportunities throughout the landscape. The Middle Schuylkill Compatible Economic Development initiative, the Upper Perkiomen “Green Up” efforts  and the Reading area regional efforts are all advancing this initiative to :

  • Market the area’s diverse and scenic, cultural, historic, recreational and natural resources to encourage more visitors.
  • Encourage growth of compatible businesses to serve the residents and visitors
  • Enhance and expand the user experiences to attract more users and visitors
  • Encourage rehabilitation of gateways, trail and river towns to increase the quality of life
  • Target capital improvements that support sustainable growth to the region.
  • Implement land use and other regulatory strategies to protect the historic, cultural and natural resources.

A Plan for Compatible Economic Development of the Middle Schuylkill  

The vision of this Middle Schuylkill Project is a regional landscape that is a hallmark cultural and natural heritage destination in southeastern Pennsylvania. 

Located within the Schuylkill Highlands and portions within the Middle section of the Schuylkill River National and State Heritage Area , this project will serve as a demonstration of how cultural and natural heritage can be conserved by taking into account the principles of sustainability, such as the conservation of large forest areas found in the Hopewell Big Woods, pristine watersheds, rare species and natural communities, regional multipurpose trail systems, sustainable economic development and cultural and historic resources.  Through a careful analysis of current economic conditions, the identification of gaps in local economic development and a discussion of current economic opportunity, additional recreational opportunities and accessible historic and cultural sites, the Middle Schuylkill Project will catalyze the creation of compatible economic development opportunities.  The result will be a model cultural and natural heritage destination well-served by a thoughtful compatible economic development initiative.

The middle reach of the Schuylkill River stretches from historic Valley Forge north and west to the City of Reading.  This region supports the historic iron-producing areas that fueled the American Revolution; supported 19th Century industrial might and declined in the 20th Century as iron-making yielded to steel-making further west.  The industrial decline of the Middle Schuylkill led to a large increase in forest cover, cleaner streams and a more agrarian style of living.  Today, this Middle Schuylkill landscape boasts a much cleaner Schuylkill River; sleepy, bucolic villages and small cities; many historic sites and cultural attractions; and important natural areas such as the Hopewell Big Woods, the last large, unbroken forest left in southeastern Pennsylvania and one of the most important natural areas in the SE region.

Suburbanization is rapidly threatening the quality of life of this area and its connection to the significant beauty and cultural landscapes of its natural areas.  Early action items  have been identified to take advantage of the Middle Schuylkill areas natural assets and history to encourage growth that supports visitors to the area and promotes economic development based on nature-and heritage-based tourism.


Return and Explore Our Other Initiatives

Additional Documents of Interest:
Schuylkill Highlands Compatible Economic Development Plan
Compatible Economic
Development Plan

Compatible Economic
Development Plan Appendix