**FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE**
January 10, 2017
Mae Axelrod, Communications Coordinator
610-353-5587, ext. 400
Media, PA –Natural Lands Trust has preserved and transferred 80 acres of high-quality forest in Robeson Township, Berks County, to the PA Bureau of Forestry.
Quaker Hill is located in the heart of the Hopewell Big Woods—the largest block of contiguous forest between New York and Washington, D.C.—which has been a focus of conservation efforts by Natural Lands Trust and more than 50 private and public partners over the past decade.
The property is also within the Schuylkill Highlands Conservation Landscape, an area at the intersection of the PA Highlands and the Schuylkill River Watershed that has been designated by the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources as a priority for conservation, recreational access, and compatible economic development.
“Conserving land has substantial benefits for our health and well-being,” said Molly Morrison, Natural Lands Trust’s president. “Quaker Hill is part of a larger fabric of forest that cleans our air and water, provides a home for wildlife, and serves as a place for people to connect with nature and each other.”
Under the Bureau of Forestry’s management, Quaker Hill will offer the public access for hiking, hunting, and bird watching. It will also expand the wooded acres in the William Penn Forest District where the Bureau can demonstrate best practices in forestry. Nearby 234-acre Gibraltar Hill was preserved in a partnership between Natural Lands Trust and the Bureau of Forestry in 2014.
“The importance of this 80-acre transfer of high-quality forest to William Penn State Forest drives home the value of DCNR’s long-time partnerships with Natural Lands Trust and other conservancies across Pennsylvania,” said DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn. “With this Quaker Hill acquisition comes invaluable watershed and wildlife habitat protection, and enhancement of an area this department already had deemed most unique with its Schuylkill Highlands Conservation Landscape designation. Coupled with the nearby Gibraltar Hill tract, also preserved in a partnership with Natural Lands Trust, this acquisition helps grow a state forest tract in a developing area where access to new hiking, hunting and birding access will be appreciated and valued by the public!”
Preservation of Quaker Hill is particularly important for the health of the streams in the area. Beaver Run—a tributary to Hay Creek which ultimately flows to the Schuylkill River and into the Delaware River—is located adjacent to the property. Ensuring that Quaker Hill remains undeveloped will help to keep these streams and rivers clean, and protect drinking water for area residents.
“Intact forests play a critical role in providing drinking water for millions in the Delaware River Watershed,” said Peter Howell, executive vice president of the Open Space Institute. “OSI is pleased to have played a supporting role in preserving water quality, promoting healthy communities, and creating new recreational opportunities in the region.”
Funding for the preservation of Quaker Hill was provided by the US Forest Service – Highlands Conservation Act; PA DCNR Bureau of Forestry; PA DCNR Bureau of Recreation and Conservation – Keystone Recreation, Park, and Conservation Fund; and the Open Space Institute’s Delaware River Watershed Protection Fund, which is made possible with funding from the William Penn Foundation (The Delaware River Watershed Protection Program seeks to ensure abundant, clean water within the 13,000-square-mile drainage of the Delaware River).
Natural Lands Trust is the region’s largest land conservation organization and is dedicated to protecting the forests, fields, streams, and wetlands that are essential to the sustainability of life in eastern Pennsylvania and southern New Jersey. Since its founding in 1953, Natural Lands Trust has preserved more than 120,000 acres, including 43 nature preserves totaling nearly 22,000 acres. Today, millions of people enjoy the healthy habitats, clean air and water, bountiful recreational opportunities, and scenic beauty provided by the lands the organization has preserved. For more information, visit www.natlands.org.