Lancaster's Natural Resource
The Garden Spot of America since the 18th Century
In the Lancaster County, our soil and water are two well-known natural resources. With Lancaster’s rural, suburban, and urban areas continuing to grow, people are starting to take more of an initiative to help in conserving Lancaster County’s natural resources. The natural resources that are produced here in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, can be supported and improved by "Going Green."
Lancaster Land Owners
Lancaster County’s landowners are planning and designing more goals to save and conserve this region’s natural resources. The local land owners, like Christopher and Stefanie Schramm, are now putting more emphasis on developing and improving the different systems to produce more crops and better livestock in their area.
Chris Schramm believes that through conserving water and soil on his land he would need to build trenches for his crops to help maintain soil and water run-offs. “Through the process it was a challenge, however by conserving the water and soil that would run off my property, I now can reproduce and use these natural resources on my crops. Land owners in the Lancaster area need to understand that through conserving our natural resources such as soil and water it helps maintain our crop growth and aids in helping our economic growth as well.”
A local land owner and a senior naturalist at the Central Park area in Lancaster County, Ted Groff understands the importance of Lancaster County and its responsibility in dealing with soil conservation. Ted helps to conserve and protect the land at Central Park’s 540-acre natural park in Central Lancaster County by enforcing park regulations. The parks in Lancaster County are significant environments for both animal wildlife and family fun.
The History and Future of Lancaster’s Natural Resources
The Lancaster County’s rich scenic, natural, and historical resources make this area a popular place to visit and live. According to the Natural Heritage Program in Lancaster, the county is one of the fastest growing counties in Pennsylvania because of its accessibility to city life as well as the rural aspects of living. However, the scenic environment and the natural resources that it provides for the people in Lancaster are starting to see the pressure from the ever-developing rural areas within the county. It is believed that to help protect Lancaster’s natural resources, the community will need to set up a balance between developing newer areas and providing protection for Lancaster's natural resources such as land, water, and its natural historical sites.
The developing areas in Lancaster should not be looked down upon because of all the positive outcomes that come from growth; however developments should be guided away from our natural resources and environmentally friendly areas such as:
- Local parks
- Natural walking trails
The growth from development in our area helps to enrich our communities as well as grow our infrastructure throughout the county. The protection and conservation of Lancaster’s natural resources is how we can help leave our green footprints within our local communities. Lancaster’s County‘s natural resources have helped in making this county unique from all the others throughout the state of Pennsylvania.
Lancaster’s natural resources can be conserved and protected through people’s everyday help. If the people living within Lancaster County as well as travelers visiting the area know where the preserved locations and open spaces are, they can help prevent further conflict in the ever-dwindling natural land and water resources that this county has left today.
Natural Heritage Program
The Natural Heritage Program was developed in 1994 to form a county-wide network of Lancaster’s natural, cultural, and historical resources that have been officially designated by the Lancaster County Planning Commission (LCPC). The program is administered by the LCPC staff and willing involvement from local residents.
The relationships between the people and the land they have preserved over the years have been passed down from generation to generation, creating stories about Lancaster County and its identity. The Lancaster County Heritage Program celebrates Lancaster County's legacy of natural and historical resources, which have helped make this a unique place to live. For more information, visit Lancaster's Natural Heritage Program website at www.ncnhp.org/.
Lancaster County Planning Commission (LCPC)
The Lancaster County Planning Commission is the only agency that comprehensively addresses county-wide planning issues. The Commission combines county policies with federal and state planning responsibilities to support the application of county-wide plans for the future. The agency protects the health, safety, and welfare of our residents: provides leadership in the management of growth and change in the county; and balances the desire to preserve the uniqueness of Lancaster County with the need to change the economy, ecology, and built environment. The Lancaster County Planning Commission wants you to help in solving some of Lancaster's major issues.
Visit the LCPC website at http://www.co.lancaster.pa.us/Planning/site/default.asp.
Lancaster County Conservancy
“The mission of the Lancaster County Conservancy is to save and steward the ecosystems and landscapes upon which we depend for food, clean water and air, economic and public health, and the restoration of soul and spirit."
The Lancaster County Conservancy plan was established in 1969. The Lancaster County Conservancy is a private, membership provided, non-profit organization dedicated to preserving Lancaster County’s rapidly diminishing supply of land. The land in Lancaster County is one of the largest natural resources that we still have available to us in this region.
The Lancaster Conservancy incurs a variety of costs, such as:
- Acquisition of land and easements
- Stewardship of protected property
- Conservation easement management and enforcement
- Preparation of development alternatives
- Title searches
- Conservancy administration
Become a member and you will receive:
- The quarterly newsletter, Landview
- Free members picnic ($30 value)
- Free guide book to Conservancy preserves
- Free SAVE bookmarks
- Free guided hikes
- Special "members only" events
- Private tours
To join call (717) 392-7891 or visit the website at: http://www.lancasterconservancy.org/membership.htm
Conservation and Preservation
People living within Lancaster County can help conserve Lancaster’s natural resources by joining the United States Department of Agriculture's Conservation Program. The Natural Resources Conservation Service Program allows citizens to partner with them to help manage and maintain private land owners' natural resources, such as land and water. According to the Natural Resources Conservation Services website, the program helps allow voluntary conservation technical assistance to land users, communities, units of state and local government, and other federal agencies in planning and implementing conservation systems.
Land owners living within the city or in rural parts of the county can all make a difference in Lancaster County. Individuals can choose to help protect this county's natural resources so Lancaster continutes to be one of the best counties in the state of Pennsylvania.
Farmers living in Lancaster County can help by preserving the natural resources that are here in Lancaster County today. There are many different governmental laws that have helped with preserving Lancaster’s natural land areas including our farms. The farmland preservation bill has helped to keep Lancaster land economically viable for Lancaster’s rural farmers and has helped to maintain this region's natural resources.
Lancaster’s Park and Recreational Areas
Lancaster County in renowned for its rural and scenic areas within the county as well as its richly known Amish heritage. However people sometimes forget that Lancaster County consists of over 2,000 acres in park land that accessible to the public. Among Lancaster's many parks are Central Park, Speedwell Forge Park, Conewago Recreational Park, Chickies Rock Park, Buchmiller Park, Lancaster Junction Recreation Trail, Money Rocks Park, and Theodore A. Parker III Natural Area Park.
In 1966, Lancaster County began its major commitment to saving its natural resources via a network of parks. The Lancaster County Department of Parks and Recreation was seeking to manage and conserve the significant areas within Lancaster County.
The Lancaster County Parks provide great opportunities for families and friends within the community to experience some of Lancaster's best features. The natural resources in these parks include Rock Ford Plantation, the preserved 18th century home of Edward Hand, the adjutant general for President George Washington, as well as amazing outcroppings of quartzite rock inside Chickies Rock Park.
Pennsylvania’s Native Plant Society
The Pennsylvania Native Plant Society began in 1979, when, through initiatives of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, and the Pennsylvania Legislature, a movement began to recognize the rare and endangered plants of Pennsylvania and to set up organized efforts to produce a list of such plants and implement legislation for their study and protection (PNPS, 2007).
According to the Pennsylvania Native Plant Society website, that program facilitates continuous management of data on the Pennsylvania flora and its rare, threatened, and endangered components. The Pennsylvania Native Plant Society consists of volunteers who have joined because they have had botanical contributions to make or desired to be on a "Pennsylvania botanical information network."
In the late 1980s, the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources was asked to identify Lancaster County’s endangered, threatened, and vulnerable wild plant species and to issue regulations governing their taking, possession, transportation, exportation, processing, and sale.
Since the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources was asked to look at Lancaster’s threatened and vulnerable wild plant species, the Department has been able to track the quantities of threatened plant species. Through the program, members have been better able to maintain and control Lancaster’s wild, threatened, or endangered wild plant species.
Lancaster County Park’s – Central Park
The County began its commitment to parks and open space in 1966, with the acquisition of 397 acres to form Central Park. The Lancaster County Department of Parks and Recreation is committed to providing facilities and programs that encourage participation in outdoor activities and foster personal action for the conservation of natural resources. The Department seeks to preserve and manage significant tracts of land and water for recreation and for conservation of scenic, historical, geological, and ecologically significant areas.
Central Park contains more than 544 acres between Mill Creek and the Conestoga River. Central Park was named for its centralized location within Lancaster County toward the southern edge of Lancaster City.
Central Park is broken down into five distinctive areas:
- The Williamson Area
- The Kiwanis Area
- The Environmental Area
- Shuts Environmental Library
- The Conestoga Area
Central Park is home to many interesting and historical sites, like Shuts Environmental Library, the historical Indian burial ground, and Rock Ford plantation.
Shuts Environmental Library is located adjacent to the Environmental Center and is home to a number of cassettes, videos, periodicals, and books. Shuts Environmental Library’s collection is now also part of the Lancaster County Public Library catalog system.
In 1979, the ancient Indian Burial Ground was discovered while the Park and Recreational Department was running water lines throughout the park. During the construction they found 11 unmarked graves and nine marked graves. Artifacts from an archaeological dig conducted at this site are on display at the Environmental Center
Rock Ford Plantation is the preserved 18th century home of Edward Hand, an adjutant general for George Washington. It is now a medical museum because of General Hand's medical background. Rock Ford Plantation is adjacent to the Conestoga River, where Hand and Robert Fulton were the first to experiment with the paddlewheel boat.
Central Park is the home of many other historical and recreational activities. For more information visit http://www.co.lancaster.pa.us/parks.
Lancaster’s Resources are becoming heavily polluted
Lancaster County is home to hundreds of farmers. Studies over the years have proven that our local natural resources are becoming heavily polluted by giant livestock farms. Giant livestock farms can house hundreds or thousands of pigs, chickens, or cows and produce vast amounts of waste -- often generating the waste equivalent of a small city.
- In this country, roughly 24 million pounds of antibiotics -- about 70 percent of the nation's antibiotics use in total -- are added to animal feed every year to speed livestock growth. This widespread use of antibiotics on animals contributes to the rise of resistant bacteria, making it harder to treat human illnesses.
- Nutrients in animal waste cause algal blooms, which use up oxygen in the water, contributing to a "dead zone" in the Gulf of Mexico where there's not enough oxygen to support aquatic life. The dead zone fluctuates in size each year, extending over 5,800 square miles during the summer of 2004 and stretching over 7,700 square miles during the summer of 1999.
- Ammonia, a toxic form of nitrogen released in gas form during waste disposal, can be carried more than 300 miles through the air before being dumped back onto the ground or into the water, where it causes algal blooms and fish kills.
These facts can be found from the Natural Resource Defense Council website. This website was designed to help inform individuals of the risks this planet is facing.
Natural Resource Defense Council Advocates Smart Growth within our Cities
The Natural Resource Defense Council has issued smart growth decisions and solutions that will help control and maintain the sprawl that occurs throughout our local cities, such as Lancaster. The Natural Resource Defense Council is encouraging people to sustain our local 21st century communities. The following statistics can be found on The Natural Resources Defense Council at http://nrdc.org/cities/smartGrowth/highlights.asp:
- National standards for smart neighborhood development. NRDC (Natural Resource Defense Council) has joined with the U.S. Green Building Council and the Congress for the New Urbanism to create the first national set of standards for building environmentally responsible neighborhoods. To be administered under the same Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) framework used by the Green Building Council to certify green buildings, LEED-ND brings together the principles of smart growth, community design, and green building to recognize and reward development proposals that offer superior alternatives to sprawl. Developers who meet the standards will receive a certification that they can use in the marketplace and in the process of obtaining development approval from municipalities. It is also hoped LEED-ND will inspire local and state governments to use the standards as a template for good zoning practices and favorable smart growth incentives of their own.
- The Green Communities partnership for affordable housing. Green Communities is a five-year, roughly around $500 million initiative to build more than 8,000 green affordable homes across the country. Founded by Enterprise Community Partners/Enterprise Community Investment and NRDC, this groundbreaking effort will transform the way Americans perceive, locate, design, and build affordable homes. The Green Communities criteria are designed to promote health, conserve energy and natural resources, and enhance access to jobs, schools, and services.
- The Location-Efficient Mortgage (LEM). Residents of inner-city neighborhoods and other communities that are walkable and accessible to transit enjoy reduced living expenses due to lower transportation costs. NRDC -- working with the Center for Neighborhood Technology, the Surface Transportation Policy Project, and a number of government agencies and private-sector interests -- is revising loan qualification rules to factor in these savings and provide greater home purchasing power in efficient locations. The LEM is currently being offered in Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Seattle.
- Supporting smart growth investment. NRDC is assisting an exciting new trend in real estate investment to target investment dollars to model smart growth development. They are helping these new funds emphasize compact, walkable, mixed-use development projects near rail transit stops and/or close to a variety of neighborhood shops and services.
- Advancing the smart growth movement. NRDC is one of the original founders of Smart Growth America, a coalition that brings together 100 environmental, housing, social justice, and preservation organizations from across the United States to work on smart growth advocacy, communications, research, and capacity-building efforts. NRDC is also a co-founder of the EPA-sponsored Smart Growth Network, has chaired the environmental task force of The Congress for the New Urbanism, and is working with the Sustainability Task Group of the American Institute for Architects.
- Developing resources and tools for smart growth. NRDC has created an array of materials intended to assist stakeholders and promote better development practices. Among them, three publications -- Solving Sprawl (2001), Once There Were Greenfield’s (1999) (in partnership with the Surface Transportation Policy Project), and The Runaway American Dream (2005) -- offer a review of smart growth success stories across the United States and a comprehensive look at the consequences of sprawl. Additionally, a series of reports and policy papers closely examine smart growth and sprawl in the context of fiscal impacts, energy savings, water resources, wildlife, and more.