90 acres preserved on First Mountain kicks off partnership with Fort Indiantown Gap

Have you noticed how we are always stating that we have projects “in the works”? This is one of them.  The completion of this project took more than three years, and its culmination was the purchase of a conservation easement on a beautiful 90-acre mountain property in East Hanover Township. The purchase of the easement was possible through a partnership with Fort Indiantown Gap and the Conservation Fund.

The Department of Defense has recognized the need to provide buffers around existing military facilities so that there will not be incompatible activities located along the military training facility borders, such as high density housing or commercial development. To that end, the Army Compatible Use Buffer (ACUB) program has been instituted (each branch of the military has their own similar program and acronym). Fort Indiantown Gap is a participant in this program, and we have partnered with them to be one of the land trusts to hold easements on land that is being protected. Through the ACUB grant, we can purchase conservation easements or land within an area that has been designated as high priority by Fort Indiantown Gap. Although it may seem surprising that there would be much mission overlap between the military and a land trust, in this case the overlap is significant. All of the lands designated as Priority 1 by Fort Indiantown Gap are along the Kittatinny Ridge and had already been designated by Manada Conservancy and others to be a high priority for preservation.

The Neelys were the first landowners to take advantage of this program, and they were patient enough to wait along with us, while the wheels of bureaucracy slowly turned, and while we worked through the steps to use the ACUB program for the first time in Pennsylvania.