Schuylkill Highlands Goals
Goal 3:

Conserve, Protect, Restore and Steward Lands, Watersheds, Greenways and Habitats.

Schuylkill Highlands Compatible Economic Development Plan

The Schuylkill Highlands is situated at the intersection of the Federally- designated Highlands Region and the Schuylkill River Watershed and supports a remarkable amount of natural diversity, given its proximity to a major East Coast metropolitan area.

The Schuylkill Highlands connects the region’s residents to “near nature”, and serves as vital habitat for plants and animals not usually found in such close proximity to a metropolitan area.

Greenway Plan

Looking at this area from above, the Schuylkill Highlands supports a large greenbelt, stretching in a broad arc from the Lake Nockamixon /Unami Forest in the northeast to the Hopewell Big Woods/Marsh Creek  in the southwest. The arc consists of unbroken forest, which in part defines a greenway suitability zone which has been identified as the Schuylkill Highlands Greenway. 

The Greenway includes five  “Important Bird Area’s”, ( a designation awarded by Audubon Pennsylvania), many rare plants and animals, several large grasslands, and watersheds designated as pristine by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection ( PA DEP). Outside of the greenway area’s arc, the Schuylkill Highlands as a whole also contains numerous important resources and four other Important Bird Areas. 

The Schuylkill Highlands Greenway encompasses approximately 619 square miles, or 395,904 acres, centered around three nodes of conservation activity: the Hopewell Big Woods, the Oley Hills and Valley, and the Unami Forest and Lake Nockamixon. Its study boundary is based on an earlier natural- resource based study: Fresh Connections: A Conservation Plan for the Schuylkill Highlands” authored by the Schuylkill Land Partners.

The Schuylkill  Highlands Greenway Plan proposes an interconnected network of natural resources - the “ Greenway” – and initiatives to conserve that network. The goal of the plan is to answer the question of where and how this interconnected Greenway could be connected.

In conserving this multi-jurisdictional Schuylkill Highlands Greenway, no single technique is likely to achieve an interconnected system of natural, agricultural, recreational, historic and cultural resources. The complex process of weaving together a Greenway will require a cooperative effort of many people and organizations. The Greenway will evolve, piece by piece as the Schuylkill Highlands partners employ various techniques recommended within the plan.

The Schuylkill River Watershed draining the Schuylkill Highlands geography is within the Delaware River Basin. Among the major tributaries in the Greenway study area are  the Manatawny Creek in the central section draining the Oley Hills and Oley Valley. Allegheny Creek and Hay Creek Watersheds are in the southern study area, along with French Creek, much of which is designated  Exceptional Waters. Significant portions of the upper study area drain into the Perkiomen Creek and its tributaries- the Swamp Creek, West Branch, Unami and East Branch. The Perkiomen has numerous headwaters designated Exceptional Value and High Quality Waters. The Hosensack and  Hazelbach Creek tributaries to the Perkiomen  are both natural heritage sites. 


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Additional Documents of Interest:
Schuylkill Highlands Compatible Economic Development Plan
"A Path Forward" The Schuylkill Highlands Greenway Plan

The Schuylkill Highlands
Greenway Plan Appendix

Greenway Initiative 1- Creating a Tapestry of land and water

Greenway Initiative 2- Connecting People to Nature & History

Greenway Initiative 3- Partnering to Realize the Greenway

"Fresh Connections: A Conservation Plan for the Schuylkill Highlands"