A short drive from the hustle and bustle of our state’s capital, a mama black bear and her two cubs are spotted by landowner Rob Fritchey as they roam freely through his woodland property in West Hanover Township. These thirty-six acres of forest nestled in Fishing Creek Valley within the Kittatinny Ridge Corridor have been protected thanks to the foresight and generosity of Rob Fritchey and his family.
The Fritchey name might ring a bell as conservation is in this landowner’s bloodline. Rob is a son of late “Doc Fritchey,” a well-known local conservationist who is the namesake of the local chapter of Trout Unlimited.
Used for decades by the family for hiking and hunting, the land is a haven for deer, bear, bobcat, fox, mink, fisher, porcupine, and opossum. Oaks, pines, and hemlocks dominate the forest canopy which shades the headwaters of the Manada Creek, a tributary to the Swatara Creek in which native brook trout can be found.
The property’s proximity to the Fort Indiantown Gap military base adds another reason to protect it from future development. Through the Army Compatible Use Buffer program, the Ward Burton Wildlife Foundation works to protect land surrounding Fort Indiantown Gap through partnership with Manada Conservancy and fellow local land trusts to ensure the continuation of environmental conditions (such as dark night skies) necessary for military training. Through these joint efforts, the Fritchey Family Forest is now protected with a conservation easement, ensuring its natural resources for future generations of wildlife and humans alike.