In 2017, The Nature Conservancy acquired the property comprising its Cove Mountain Preserve, located just outside of Harrisburg, with a Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources grant and funds raised from generous donors. TNC used the funds to permanently protect land along part of the Kittatinny Ridge (also known as Blue Mountain or First Mountain). Long recognized as one of the Commonwealth’s most treasured landscapes, the Kittatinny’s forested ridgetops serve as one of the most important wildlife corridors within the northeastern U.S.—stretching from the Blue Ridge Mountains to the south and the Catskill Mountains to the north.
TNC is managing the Cove Mountain Preserve to support native forest and wildlife, including migrating raptors and songbirds. The preserve is also open for public recreation via a series of restored former logging roads that have been transformed into two miles of hiking trails leading to scenic views of the Susquehanna River, surrounding ridges and the historic Rockville Bridge – a railroad bridge built in 1902 and the longest of its kind in the world.
Marysville, Perry County
Although Central Pennsylvania boasts plentiful natural areas, these places—especially along our ridgetops—remain relatively unprotected. As development extends outward from Harrisburg, nearby mountain slopes are faced with increased conversion pressure. Other threats include over browsing by deer, non-native invasive plants and pests, and unsustainable logging.
What’s at Stake
In addition to its location along the Kittatinny Ridge, the property falls within the Susquehanna Water Gaps, one of 28 National Natural Landmarks in Pennsylvania recognized by National Park Service, and is part of the Susquehanna Gateway Heritage Area, the Middle Susquehanna River Water Trail and the Susquehanna Birding and Wildlife Trail. It has also been identified as a conservation priority by the Perry County Greenway Plan.
Cove Mountain represents TNC’s first nature preserve in Central Pennsylvania along the state’s Kittatinny Ridge. In addition to protecting and connecting critical wildlife habitat, it also showcases efforts by the Kittatinny Ridge Coalition to safeguard the surrounding landscape. The Conservancy is also partnering with a local church to provide parking, picnic and outdoor classroom areas for visitors seeking to spend time outdoors connecting with nature.