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Kittatinny Ridge Designated as Sentinel Landscape

A portion of Kittatinny Ridge covers most of Schuylkill County.

Gov. Josh Shapiro has officially designated Kittatinny Ridge as a Sentinel Landscape, a decision that directly supports military readiness and environmental protection.

The area spans 1.9 million acres, including strategic military sites such as Fort Indiantown Gap and Letterkenny Army Depot, making it one of the most critical regions for combined military and conservation efforts in the Eastern United States.

A portion of Kittatinny Ridge is located in most of Schuylkill County.

The Sentinel Landscapes Partnership, initiated in 2013 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Department of Defense, and Department of the Interior, focuses on maintaining military preparedness while preserving natural resources. This program also aims to boost public access to outdoor activities and strengthen the land’s resistance to climate change.

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Kittatinny Ridge, known for its rich biodiversity, is now among 18 such designated landscapes nationwide. This status will bolster ongoing conservation efforts, protect natural habitats essential for military training, and support the operations at Letterkenny Army Depot.

Shapiro expressed gratitude for the support from federal partners, highlighting the dual benefits of the designation.

“Fort Indiantown Gap is not only a vital training center for the National Guard and our armed forces, but it is also a critical area for national security,” Shapiro said.

He emphasized that the designation is a strategic move to preserve the area for future generations while maintaining national defense capabilities.

Major General Mark Schindler, head of the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, noted the importance of the designation in safeguarding necessary training areas. “

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This designation assists in protecting vital land and air spaces used by our service members and civilian partners,” Schindler stated, underlining the commitment to conservation and military preparedness.

The Sentinel Landscape designation also plays a significant role in supporting the local economy, particularly in agriculture. Following a $10 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 2019, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture has successfully protected over 2,200 acres of farmland along Kittatinny Ridge.

Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding sees the designation as a crucial investment in the state’s agricultural future.

“Securing productive farmland through conservation helps ensure the prosperity of Pennsylvania’s agriculture for the future,” Redding remarked.

Additionally, the designation highlights the ecological importance of Kittatinny Ridge, recognized as an Important Bird Area and a key migration path for raptors in the Northeast. The reintroduction of the bobwhite quail at Letterkenny Army Depot by the Pennsylvania Game Commission is one of the many initiatives benefiting from this new status.

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Cindy Adams Dunn, Secretary of the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, pointed out the resilience of Kittatinny Ridge to climate change, with initiatives like light pollution reduction aiding military training and providing safer conditions for local wildlife.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Wendy Madenford

    May 22, 2024 at 7:55 pm

    What kind of preservation is really taking place in the West end of Schuylkill County? I live here and pay my taxes and for what reason? The area that we live in is NOT Agriculture! We live in a mountainous region. We all know everything flows downhill. Furthermore, we have enough agriculture in the valleys below. We are being dumped on by out of state waste companies with out of state waste. Human sewage sludge, paper pulp sludge, Industrial sludge, Fly Ash and the list goes on. Land that had been reclaimed is now clearcut to spread human sewage sludge. Natural habitat taken away and now there is potential for PFAS contamination, heavy metals and pharmaceuticals pollutants to our air, land and water, our natural resources. Our rough grouse has disappeared. Our quality of life has been negatively impacted. How is this helping to clean up our waterways and the Chesapeake Bay? And again, how is this considered preservation and conservation of our environment and natural resources to sustain life?

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