Schuylkill Highlands Partnership Spring Meeting Summary for May 12, 2023

Elaine Schaefer, Tim Fenchel and Julia Hurle of Schuylkill River Greenways shared that thirty next gen kids from Pottstown and Philadelphia experienced the river; a Paddling Film Festival with partner Sly Fox; Upcoming Pedal and Paddles and Take It Outdoors is in its fourth year of operating. The acquisition of 4-acre Reeser’s landing, Exeter at Gibraltar Bridge and the SRT Feasibility from Reading to Hamburg. For summer events see

Bob Thomas of Campbell Thomas and Company explained the road routes for the Secret Valley North Side Trail from Boyertown to Pottstown on back roads.

Katie Hess of Appalachian Mountain Club reported on the Appalachian Trail’s first Visual Resource Assessment along with partnering with National Park Service which led to ranking trail sections and evaluating the visual resources to protect. Outreach to municipalities in the corridor with recommendations and communicating the landscape as a climate corridor is a next step. Visit Appalachian Trail Conservancy

Rachael Griffith and Stephen Buck of Chester County Planning Commission mentions that Chester County is one-third developed, one-third open space, and one-third up for grabs. 2040 acres preserved in 2022, and 30.7 % now protected. Outreach planning to certain municipalities based on the County inventory and needs is ongoing. Stephen Buck shared the Chesco Trails Master Plan and provided updates and the planned CVT to the Enola Low Grade Trail.

Ryan Beltz of Perkiomen Watershed updated on the 18-mile Perkiomen Water Trail and the new boat ramp/landing at Collegeville funded in part by the SH Mini Grant Program.

Ashley Showers of Berks County Planning Commission shared a Berks County Greenway Plan handout and funding strategy to advance the plan completed at year end 2022.

James Wassell of French Creek State Park and Marsh Creek State Park presented drawings for a new silver LEED certified building to be constructed at the main entry to Marsh Creek State Park on the south side of the lake as office space with a glass window viewing toward sunset with an associated solar array on the meadow north side of the lake allowing for the new building to be net zero. He also provided an update on the Big Woods Trail additional 2-mile section added past Crusher Road.

Cathy Wegener of Berks County Parks and Recreation Department shared Tulpehocken Creek engineering specifications, Antietam Master Park Plan and a trailhead to Mt Penn, and a natural resource Stewardship Plan for Mt Penn in process with fourteen miles of trails within it.

Ellen Miramontes and Bill Hartman of Montgomery County Planning Commission shared the Montgomery County Return on Environment quantifying the value of Open Space completed by Montgomery County Planning Commission in May 2022 with a Summary Saving Land Saves Money July 2022. See link for study and findings Bill Hartman updated on the Montgomery County Trail system including the Cross County Trail, the newly completed CVT to Norristown, the Perkiomen Trailhead at Green Lane.

Karl Russek of French and Pickering Creeks Conservation Trust shared a presentation on “Retooling to address Climate Resiliency,” the creation of an Arc GIS Story Map, adding a focus on downstream, water quantity as well as quality, and modeling land use impacts on flooding.

Andrew Fetterman of Berks Nature updated on warehouse facilities and farmland, solar arrays, a field trip to Hay Creek, SH grant for Neversink, Reading’s water source for drinking water—Lake Ontelaunee and protections on Maiden Creek, Angelica Creek Trail and the SRT section in Berks County.

Matt Babbitt of Heritage Conservancy shared the geography they cover in Northwestern Montgomery and Bucks County, and twenty-three projects they are working on totaling 1800 acres of land protection in four focus areas making an impact on birds, wetlands, parks, regenerative forests, and a trail connection as a result, and properties adding to State Game Lands, and the William Penn Forest among other sites.

Jack Stefferud of Natural Lands presented maps of eight separate properties protected in Chester, Berks and Bucks Counties totaling 855 acres. Gibraltar Hill addition, adding to William Penn Forest, property aside Horse-Shoe Trail, and the Liberty Bell Trail in Bucks County.

Todd Underwood of Kutztown Borough EAC and Kutztown University Biology Department shared the Saucon Creek Trail Riparian Forest and habitat Restoration project funded in part by the SH Mini Grant Program.

Becky Patterson from Lundale Farms mentioned that French Creek runs through their farm property, and she shared a map of property and explained how they have 320 tillable acres leased to farmers who use organic and regenerative techniques. Ash trees have died and removed from site along with invasive removal and they are conducting “shelterwood” areas for the natural regeneration of native trees, and protecting it with fencing, a project funded by the SH Mini Grant Program.

Erik Silldorff from Delaware Riverkeeper Network presented data from his baseline water quality monitoring on Tohickon Creek, downstream of the Lake Nockamixon Dam to inform releases into the creek, a project funded in part by the SH Mini Grant Program.

Richard Hartlieb with the Bureau of Forestry shared, if Spotted Lantern Fly, and Emerald Ash Borer were not enough, we know have Beech Leaf Disease which is in most counties in PA now