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Educate > Land Conservation >My Project


Conservation is important for the betterment of this earth that we all share. This initiative will address the importance of conserving natural land and wetlands and why these habitats are crucial to the ecosystem. This initiative will also address what we can all do in our daily lives, the different acts and programs that have been put in place to conserve our natural land, and what is saved when preserving natural land.

What is conservation?

Why is land conservation important?

What are wetlands?

What is the North American Wetlands Conservation Act program?

Where are wetlands located in Lancaster

Endangered species that are saved when saving a wetland

What organizations in Lancaster protect natural land?

Some animals saved when saving a forest:

What is a conservation easement?

What is a farming easement?

What are buffering programs?

What else does conservation help?

What is the Clean Air Act (CAA)?

What can I do to help?

Some other things you can do in your daily life to help the environment

What are native plants?

Native gardens

Trees native to the Lancaster area

Native shrubs to the Lancaster area

Native flowers to the Lancaster area

An Interview with Sallie Gregory of the Lancaster County Conservation District


What is conservation?

             Conservation, when applied to natural land, is to preserve the land the way it naturally occurs. Land conservation includes forests, streams, watersheds, wetlands and habitats. It also includes planting or preserving native trees, shrubs and plants (Carl Martin of The Lancaster County Conservancy).

Stream with trees on Black rock rd.

Why is land conservation important?

             Land conservation is important because it keeps the habitats of wildlife and protects the land from development and urbanization so that for years to come later generations will be able to enjoy it. There are many creatures that would be homeless if not for the work of conservationists everywhere.

What are wetlands?

             “Wetlands are lands where saturation with water is the dominant factor determining the nature of soil development and the types of plant and animal communities living in the soil and on its surface” (Cowardin, December 1979).Wetlands are usually full of vegetation and living things. The constant presence of water makes the area a good home to “specially adapted plants (hydrophytes) and promote the development of characteristic wetland (hydric) soils” (N.C. Division of Water Quality, 2008).



What is the North American Wetlands Conservation Act program?

            The program is, “an internationally recognized program that provides grants throughout the United States, Canada, and Mexico, is one of the key instruments for the conservation of waterfowl and other migratory birds. Through voluntary grant partnerships, the program has protected and improved the health and integrity of the landscapes in which people reside and work in harmony with our fish and wildlife resources.” (U.S. Department of the Interior, 2008).
            This act was started in 1989 and supports wetland conservation efforts throughout the United States, Canada and Mexico. It was started to protect wildlife that live in these wetlands. The act supports programs “that involve long-term protection, restoration, and/or enhancement of wetlands and associated uplands habitats.”(U.S.Fish & Wildlife Service, 2008). There are both standard and small grants to carry out these goals.
            An accomplishment of this act is that, “from September 1990 through September 2007, more than 3,547 partners have been involved in 1,697 Standard and Small Grants Programs’ projects combined. More than $836.8 million in Act grants has leveraged some $1.6 billion in matching funds and $946 million in mismatching funds to affect approximately 23.8 million acres of wetlands and associated uplands across the continent.” This act was passed to protect wildlife that lives in these wetlands: these habitats are crucial to their survival. .”(U.S.Fish & Wildlife Service, 2008)

Wetlands and trees

Where are wetlands located in Lancaster:

            In the 1930’s through the 1950’s many areas including wetlands were used for development. An area known as “'Dillerville Swamp’ [once] existed to the north of Lancaster City in an area that is now commercially developed.” (The Geological Society of America, 2008).

The wetlands below are located off of Centerville road in Lancaster.

Woods Edge Park in Lancaster, PA

Log in WAter of wetlands


Endangered species that are saved when saving a wetland:

-Black Tern                                           - King Rail                                    
- Least Bittern                                       - American Bittern
- Yellow-crowned Night Heron          - Sedge Wren                                                
- Black-crowned Night-Heron            - Yellow-bellied Flycatcher            
- Great Egret                                         - Short-eared Owl                                   
- Common Tern                                    - Indiana Bat
- Peregrine Falcon

            The peregrine falcon depends on wetlands for its survival because it feeds on medium-sized birds that live there. These are powerful birds with wing spans anywhere from 39” to 43”(Cornell Lab of Ornithology).
This falcon was almost extinct in the mid 20th century because of preside uses. Between the 1950’s and 1970’s the uses of DDT made these birds non-existent in Pennsylvania
(Cornell Lab of Ornithology, 2008).

             “The peregrines accumulated DDT in their tissues by feeding on birds that had eaten DDT-contaminated insects or seeds. The toxic chemical interfered with eggshell formation. As a result, falcons laid eggs with shells so thin they often broke during incubation or otherwise failed to hatch. As too few young were raised to replace adults that died, peregrine populations seriously declined.”(Pelegrine falcon, 2008).

             Conservationists and Ornithologists made widespread efforts to restore these birds in the Eastern United States. The peregrine falcon was recently removed for the endangered species list in 1999 thanks to these efforts. (Cornell Lab of Ornithology, 2008).

Bird in wetlands

What organizations in Lancaster protect natural land?

             There are many organizations in Pennsylvania that handle land conservation. Specifically in Lancaster, a major land preservation organization is the Lancaster County Conservancy (LCC). They are concerned with preserving natural resources and natural land. They are a non-profit organization that is funded in large part by public donations. They buy and receive donated land in Lancaster County and use it to teach the public about nature and human effects on nature. The LCC has 24 nature preserves in Lancaster with over 3,000 acres of forests (Pennsylvania Land and Trust Assoc, 2008).

Some animals saved when saving a forest:

- Mice          - Voles                        - Indiana Bats
- Bluebird                                        - Fishers

- Swallowtail Butterflies               - Warblers
- Ruby-throated hummingbirds   - Great blue herons
- Salamanders                               - Peregrine Falcon

There are many more animals that live in forests, these are just a few of the more rare (Pennsylvania Land and Trust Assoc, 2008).

Forrest, natural land

What is a conservation easement?

             A conservation easement is a conservation agreement for a particular area of land. “A conservation easement is an agreement between a landowner and a private land trust or government. The agreement limits certain uses on all or a portion of a property for conservation purposes while keeping the property in the landowner’s ownership and control. The agreement applies to present and future owners of the land.” An easement can protect the land from development, logging, etc. depending on the terms of the agreement. Both the owner of the land and the organization involved in the easement agree on the circumstances of the agreement (Pennsylvania Land and Trust Assoc, 2008).

What is a farming easement?

             In Lancaster, farming is a necessity for many families’ survival. A farming easement is similar to a conservation easement. In a farming easement, the land can be preserved as farm land for years to come. Usually this preservation is associated with a county agricultural land preservation board, a land trust or through an agricultural conservation easement purchase program. Farms can also contribute to land conservation by participating in buffering programs like the programs provided by Pennsylvania’s Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP).

What are buffering programs?

             Buffering programs add needed natural vegetation to areas that have been damaged. This damage is caused by a variety of reasons, but two common causes are flooding and the raising live stock. “Trees provide critical benefits to streams, providing benefits for both water quality and for quality of life. Restoring streamside forests provides a big boost to efforts to improve Pennsylvania’s streams.” (CREP PA, 2008)
In a buffering program done by CREP, in a 12 year period, trout spawned in a river that they were unable to for decades. By restoring riversides and other natural land the overall health of that ecosystem is improved.

What else does conservation help?

             Since conservation preserves natural land, forests, and prevents deforestation it improves the overall air quality of a region. Lancaster has the fourth worst air in Pennsylvania. “Lehigh County scores among the worst 10% in nation for volatile organic chemicals (ozone smog) emissions, and the top worst 20% for nitrogen oxides (ozone smog)”, and Lancaster is not far behind. Most of these pollutants are from coal burning from factories and vehicle emissions. Lancaster is a valley, and because of wind flow, the area gets pollutants from the three major cities surrounding it (Philadelphia, Pittsburg and Harrisburg) and even New York. Trees, plants and most vegetation naturally filter air and get rid of impurities through photosynthesis. When areas of high vegetation (such as forests) are destroyed it affects more then that specific area. (Sierra Club, 2008)

What is the Clean Air Act (CAA):

             The Clean Air Act (CAA) was passed in 1977 and has been updated over the years. “The EPA [Environmental Protection Agency] has been responsible for a variety of Clean Air Act programs to reduce air pollution nationwide.” The EPA was created for this purpose (Pennsylvania Land and Trust Association, 2008).
“The EPA sets limits on certain air pollutants, including setting limits on how much can be in the air anywhere in the United States. This helps to ensure basic health and environmental protection from air pollution for all Americans. The Clean Air Act also gives EPA the authority to limit emissions of air pollutants coming from sources like chemical plants, utilities, and steel mills. Individual states or tribes may have stronger air pollution laws, but they may not have weaker pollution limits than those set by EPA.” Even though this act is in effect today we all must do our part to reduce emissions and energy waste (Pennsylvania Land and Trust Association, 2008).

What can I do to help:

             There are many ways that you can help with conservation first lets hear what a conservationists suggestions are. According to Carl Martin of the Lancaster County Conservancy, there are a few things that people can do in their daily lives to help with conservation:

  1. Donate to your local conservancy
  2.  Recycle
  3.  Don’t pollute
  4.  Save energy
  5. And most importantly, understand how the natural cycles work so you can understand what harms them. The more educated about nature you are, the less likely you are to damage the natural system.

Some other things you can do in your daily life to help the environment:

-            Don’t leave engines running when you are not using them (example: car engines)
-            Turn off lights when you are not in the room
-            Take showers instead of baths
-            Turn of water when you are not using it
-            Support your local businesses that are taking the steps to ‘go green’
-            Plant a native garden

Energy: a little known fact
             “Appliances continue to draw electricity while the products are turned off, but in the average home nearly 75% of all electricity used to power electronics is consumed by products that are switched off.” Some products that use energy when they are not in use include: DVD players, televisions, stereos, computers, and kitchen appliances. “You may have noticed how a cell phone charger can be warm even when not attached to a phone.” If these products are unplugged after use they will save energy and your money; doing this will also reduce pollution caused from energy production (Terrapass, 2008)

What are native plants:

Native plants are those that evolved naturally in that region. “Native plants in a particular area are those that were growing naturally in the area before humans introduced plants from distant places.”(For Wild, 2008)

Native gardens are very low maintenance gardens and here are several benefits to having one of your own:

  1. They do not need to be leaf-free gardens because leaves (for native plants) are natural soil builders, weed suppressors and fertilizers (Octoraro Native Plant Nursery,2008).
  2. No pesticides are needed for these gardens because the plants have adapted to the common bugs of the area. If more native gardens were planted and less pesticides were used, there would less chemicals in our waterways, drinking water, and over-all ecosystem(Octoraro Native Plant Nursery, 2008).
  3. These native plants can grow side by side of one another and flourish. (Octoraro Native Plant Nursery, 2008).
  4. These gardens do not need to be watered; except for when they are first planted. Did you know “that 60% of water consumed on the West Coast, and 30% on the East Coast, goes to watering lawns. U.S. News and World Report states that a 1000 sq. ft. lawn (for example, 20' x 50') requires 10,000 gallons of water per summer to maintain a "green" look.”(Octoraro Native Plant Nursery, 2008)
  5. It encourages song birds to make their nests and sing there songs in your own backyard(Octoraro Native Plant Nursery, 2008).
  6. They save you money! Since these gardens need no pesticides, no racking, no watering, and little maintenance they will save you a lot time and money. (Octoraro Native Plant Nursery, 2008).

Natural land on Blue Rock Rd Millersville


*It is important to not remove native plants from the wild to start your own garden or for any other reasons. These plants are part of the delicate balance of that ecosystem. (Octoraro Native Plant Nursery, 2008).


These are some trees native to the Lancaster area: (Go Native Tree Farms, 2008)

Bitternut Hickory
Black Chokeberry     
Pignut Hickory      
Red Chokeberry  
Red Hickory
Red Maple             
River Birch
Shagbark Hickory
Shellbark Hickory     
Sugar Maple           
Sweet Birch
Yellow Birch           


Go Native Tree farm located in Lancaster is one location where you can purchase theses native trees.


These are some native shrubs to the Lancaster area: (Octoraro Native Plant Nursery, 2008).

beach plum
black chokeberry                       
cranberry bush
groundsel tree
lowbush blueberry                       
marsh elder                              
northern bayberry                
red chokeberry                        
red-osier dogwood                   
sandbar willow                        
silky dogwood 
silky willow                                  
sweet pepperbush                    


These shrubs and more can be purchased at local native nurseries including Octoraro Native Plant Nursery.


These are some native flowers to the Lancaster area: (Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, 2008)

Cardinal flower                     
Americal Bells                      
American dog violet                       
Black-eyed Susan
Blue vervain                       
Common blue violet             
Common sneezeweed           
Cutleaf coneflower                       
Doll's eyes                       
False Solomon's seal           
Golden ragwort                       
Great blue lobelia          
Jacob's Ladder                       
Joe-Pye weed           
New England aster
New York ironweed
Nodding ladies-tresses           
Oxeye sunflower       
Solomon's seal           
Swamp milkweed Common
Tall meadow-rue                       
White snakeroot                       
Wild columbine
Wild ginger              
Wood geranium                   
Wrinkle-leaf goldenrod           


Each plant flourishes in different amounts of sunlight, with the right amount of water and at a specific time of the year. For these instructions and other information you can visit The Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

An Interview with Sallie Gregory of the Lancaster County Conservation District

By Katie Simpson

This interview was done to get more information about the Youth Conservation School offered by the Lancaster Conservation District. This year is there 30th year offering the school to students. 


Interviewer: I wanted to know what the exactly the youth conservation school was about and what it was made for.

Sallie: Okay, it was designed actually by an individual who has since passed away, he passed away in 2000, his name was Robert Mowrer. He was actually, he was an individual that was concerned with conservation, and he was affiliated with the Lancaster County Conservancy. Just for your background, is a totally different agency from the Conservation District. But he approached the Conservation District to create a program to allow students to learn more about conservation because he had the foresight to see that it’s really teaching the younger students, teaching young people about conservation will make changes for the future. And so he approached the Conservation District to organize the program and then he also went and talked with agriculture teachers throughout the county to provide instruction and help find the students who would be part of the first few conservation schools that we had. And then he needed a partnership to supply funding  for the program and so he went and talked with the Federated Sportmen’s Club of Lancaster County and he was also an avid hunter and had been part of the Sportsmen’s Club within his life as well so the program still remains a partnership between the Conservation District and Federated Sportmen so that they supply, the Federated Sportmen, supply the tuition for the students to attend and that way the students only have a small registration fee that they have to pay. And the Conservation District organizes and provides the staff both volunteer and paid staff to run the program. It’s a week to immerse students in as much information about conservation of our natural resources as possible. So that if we give them a broad spectrum of issues relating to our natural resources hopefully as they grow into adulthood they will be able to make wiser choices in how they consume, and use our natural resources.

Interviewer: Okay. Is there anything different that you will be doing for the 30th year anniversary then you’ve done in previous years?

Sallie: We do plan to have some special presentations and highlight a few things throughout the week as a milestone for reaching 30 years. To give you any specifics at this time, I don’t have those, and in fact a couple of them are kinda special events that we are going to release that week as a special celebration that will be a surprise, we are not going to share them.

Interviewer: Okay, no problem. And as far as umm  the things that they learn at the conservation school is there anything specific that you could tell me besides, I know there’s archery and I know there’s hunting well, rifle shooting, and  a couple other things but are there any things that wouldn’t be covered in the website that you could tell us.

Sallie: Umm, yea. I mean the real focus is to look at what you do on a daily basis and your impact on the environment, one humans’ impact on the environment. And so every day focuses on a different resource. For example on Monday, during the week, we focus on kinda an overall picture of the outdoors and we do orienteering and survival that day  to really go about how to enjoy the outdoors. Tuesday is looking at land use and each year the students are given a different sanairio to focus on. This year our theme is human impact on our natural places. And Wednesday focuses on wildlife, Thursday focuses on water resources and then Friday is kind of our rap up day to see how much knowledge the students have gained during the week. And they’ll actually go out on a conservation quest. Which is kind of a combination of Survivor game and the other travel show that is on CBS, the Amazing race. Where they’re using the skills that they have learned during the week to get of a final destination.

Interviewer: Okay. The students that are involved in the class, is there something that they all have in common? Are they all looking to be biology majors in college? Is there anything specific that seems to be a trend?

Sallie: It’s a really broad spectrum of students. Every year it’s unique because students can only attend the program one year and so every year we get a new class. And umm
You have some students who are really interested in the whole go green theory, leave no trace kind of thing, we have other students that come form a background of  I’m a hunter, I’m a fishermen, I enjoy the outdoors, and that’s about it. We have other students that just kind of sign up because they have some interest in the outdoors but maybe they haven’t tried a lot of the different skills that we’re gonna offer them that week. So it’s kind of an adventure for them. Um so, I wouldn’t say that we have only one type pf person that would be good for it. It’s open to a lot of different backgrounds. Which is also good because, you know, the person that only looks at the outdoors as a place for hunting and fishing, if they can interact for that week with somebody who might have a different idea about how the outdoors can be used, I think that’s really valuable too because throughout our world, not everybody has the same perspective or the same understanding of how our natural resources should be taken care of. Hence the reason we have major issues coming up in congress and things like that, dealing with global warming or you know that’s a huge global situation or just um, a wildlife center on our endangered species list. Things like that.

Interviewer: Um. I’m trying to think of a way to say this but I’m… I don’t mean to say this the wrong way so don’t take it the wrong way but, does the class, the conservation school itself, promote hunting? Or don’t they teach how to hunt in a respectful way? How to fish in a respectful way?

Sallie: Right, I mean, the whole week is about um relating ethics to our  natural resources and I keep using that word, those two words over again because wildlife are considered a  natural resource. And so, we do do a lot of, I’m trying to think how to say this, we try and approach all those topics that might be controversial by looking at that point of view. As I just said everybody’s coming with a different perspective and when we look at wildlife there’s not just on way to maintain that. We often talk to the students each year about the whole deer management situation  that the game commission is facing um because certain people think that there’s one way to manage the deer population and other people  think that there’s another way to manage the deer population. So we try and give both points of view and we are trying to say that hunting has a value in controlling populations of wildlife.

Interviewer: Okay. So it’s not necessarily neither supported or discouraged?

Sallie: Right.  Because we do have students that never intend to go hunting, that do attend the school. Um and so we have to be cognitive of that and be thoughtful in how we approach that topic. but we also are not gonna say oh that person doesn’t believe in hunting? Well then they shouldn’t come to the school. That’s not what we’re about. We like to provide all points of view.

Interviewer: I think that’s about all the questions that I have for you today.

Sallie: If you can include I think the main point that we try to leave kids with at the end of that week is knowing the difference between conservation and preservation. In that preservation, you’re preserving the site so that it doesn’t change and so I stays the way it is forever. With conservation, we know that our natural resources can never stay the same, I mean look at humans our populations are going crazy, ups and downs, and so through conservation we hope that people can use that natural resources that we have in a wise manner and make decisions about how they’re used. That’s really what we stress during the week.  

For more information about the Youth Conservation School call the Lancaster Conservation District at
# 717- 299-5361 x 5
Or visit their website @

Waterfall and stream in Lancaster




This site was created by Katie Simpson who is a student at Millersville University of Pennsylvania

Last updated on november 4, 2008

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