In 2017, The Nature Conservancy purchased roughly 350 acres of Cove Mountain, representing TNC’s first nature preserve in central Pennsylvania along the Kittatinny Ridge. In February 2021, the PA/DE chapter closed on a land deal to expand Cove Mountain. The purchase of 1,200 acres of land adjacent to the existing preserve quadruples its size and—most importantly—fills a gap between existing conservation lands and creates a 14-mile stretch of protected land along the Kittatinny Ridge, one of the most important landscapes for climate adaptation in Pennsylvania and the Appalachians.
This once in a generation opportunity creates a model for landscape scale land protection and management in the Central Appalachians and will preserve habitat in one of the most important wildlife corridors in the northeastern United States.
Future Plans: Recreation and Sightseeing
Cove Mountain Preserve sits alongside the Susquehanna River, just opposite a scenic stretch of the Appalachian Trail. The expanded preserve will provide new opportunities for hiking, hunting, birding and other activities, and will also protect the southern viewshed from Peters Mountain; a view that’s particularly popular with both local hikers and through hikers traveling along the Appalachian Trail.
TNC will now enter into an inclusive planning process for expanding recreational opportunities that will directly engage the local community to address issues like access points and infrastructure needs.
A separate plan will also be developed to determine management needs focused on conditions such as forest health, climate resilience and wildlife habitat. The property had been managed for timber production for the last 60 years and will undergo a comprehensive forest assessment.
In expanding Cove Mountain Preserve, TNC has helped to ensure this chain of forests will remain connected, healthy and more climate resilient into the future. It’s an incredible opportunity to simultaneously protect critical wildlife habitat, clean water for the Susquehanna River and an iconic Pennsylvania viewshed while expanding local recreation and tourism opportunities just outside of Harrisburg. This is all thanks to critical support TNC has received from our generous donors and partners like the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, and Perry County.