Just as 2009 wound down, a very special 41-acre parcel containing an unusual swamp and habitat area was protected by The Manada Conservancy, Murray and Rhonda Laudenslager and the US Fish and Wildlife Service. The Laudenslagers signed a conservation easement with The Manada Conservancy that places permanent restrictions on the use and development of the property, ensuring that it will not be subdivided or disturbed. This runs with the deed, and the Manada Conservancy, a land trust, sees that it is upheld in perpetuity.
This property represents the “heart” of a long swath of wetland that runs on a shelf of Peter’s Mountain, and is home to numerous unusual plant species, some rare or threatened. It is home to a number of other wild species whose habitat is being lost elsewhere. The swamp is created by an unusual combination of springs and run-off, and provides a unique ecosystem. It is also within the Kittatinny Ridge Corridor, the long swath of ridges which cuts through Pennsylvania and is recognized as a globally significant migration flyway and habitat corridor. The scenic and recreational value of these ridges benefits hundreds of thousands of residents in Dauphin County.
This area, remote, but unzoned, and not far from emerging development and transportation corridors, is beginning to be noticed by land buyers. Central Pa. is an unusual mixture of old and new development and wild areas—the Susquehanna River and the long Appalachian Ridges, which cut through the State northeast to southwest. As the cities grow, and the highways are improved, new lands are opened up to individuals looking for new home sites in unspoiled areas, and land-buyers looking for treasure. But Murray and Rhonda have their own definition of treasure. On their property is now a small sign that reads “Conserved Forever”.