ALCS Negotiates Wonderful 404 Acre Conservation Project In Dauphin County
September 4, 2020
On Friday September 4, 2020, the Central Pennsylvania Conservancy closed on a 404-acre parcel of land in Dauphin County, Pennsylvania, purchasing the rural property from Flemish Down, LLC.
Appalachian Land & Conservation Services Co., LLC represented Flemish Down in all aspects of the two-year project, from negotiation to closing. Flemish Down is a long-time client and partner of ALCS.
"This project is especially wonderful because the property is large, borders the Joseph Ibberson Conservation Area to the northeast, includes both sides of the Appalachian Trail for a full mile to the north, and adjoins a roughly 50,000 acre State Game Lands to the east and south. It fills in a big habitat hole for wildlife and wild people alike. Until the next glacier comes through, everyone from AT through-hikers to hunters, birders, and trappers will walk through this corridor undisturbed by machines or construction. Having years ago served as CPC’s board secretary, during a time when we successfully implemented many signature land protection projects, this particular project brings me special pleasure,” says Josh First, president of Appalachian Land & Conservation Services LLC, which is Flemish Down’s long time land manager and their representative in the transaction.
“This property's many conservation values add up to an especially high return for the public. Joe Ibberson would have been thrilled about this. Joe was a friend of mine, and long ago he and I had sat together on the northern stretch of the Victorian Trail, on his property that ended up becoming Pennsylvania's first Conservation Area, and talked about adding this part of Flemish Down to his own public lands conservation legacy. Well, we did it, Joe, thanks to Flemish Down, DCNR, and CPC,” First says.
The property occupies a key location in the Saint Anthony's Wilderness and on the Kittatinny Ridge raptor migration corridor, has relatively manageable to very gentle slopes, and contains the original Victorian Trail, which runs northward over Peters Mountain into the Joseph E. Ibberson Conservation Area. Access can be gained through many different points, but not through the approximately 1,200 acres still owned by Flemish Down.
"Our family owned and took care of this land since early in the last century. We are happy and proud that, from now on, it will be open to the public, thanks to the forward-thinking work of the Central Pennsylvania Conservancy, the State Game Commission, and the National Park Service. We hope hunters, hikers, nature lovers and bird watchers flock to this land, forever enjoying the beauty of the forest and the majestic views it affords of both Clarks Valley and Powells Valley," says Michael Blum, the Manager of Flemish Down, LLC.
The Central Pennsylvania Conservancy was able to purchase the property through a large matching grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation & Natural Resources. DCNR's grant matched the 50% charitable donation given by Flemish Down, whose generous bargain sale enabled the transaction.
"I know my parents would have been delighted by this project. From my father laying out maps of Peters mountain on a table, to my mother leading groups of Girl Scouts on the Appalachian Trail, to a family story of my grandmother handing out snake-bite kits to workers up on the mountain, our property on Peters Mountain has been important to my family. Now it can be enjoyed by all for many years to come," says Annette Alger Cameron Blum, a member of Flemish Down, LLC.
Anna Yelk of the Central Pennsylvania Conservancy notes that the property contains both the Appalachian Trail's popular Peters Mountain shelter, as well as an important drinking water spring below the shelter.
"Josh First at ALCS conceived, managed, shepherded and helped consummate this sale. Thanks to Josh’s creative thinking and practical experience, from now on this tract will be open to the public. We feel that we were well served by Josh, and are confident that we were and are in the best hands, with Josh and Appalachian Land Conservation Services, Inc., representing us every step of the way," says Mike Blum.
Flemish Down is a large family estate containing a mix of topography and land uses, including hundreds of acres of actively farmed tillage, carefully managed mixed hardwood forests, Clark's Creek, and rental properties associated with the several historic farms comprising the property today.