Historic Achievement: Pennsylvania’s Kittatinny Ridge Blessed with Distinguished Sentinel Landscape Designation

All of the land within the white and black border is covered by this designation.All of the land within the white and black border is covered by this designation. Credit: Commonwealth Media Services

HARRISBURG, PA — Pennsylvania’s Kittatinny Ridge has been declared a Sentinel Landscape. Announced this week by The Shapiro Administration, this prestigious title places it amongst the most protected regions in Eastern North America.

Initiated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Department of Defense, and Department of Interior in 2013, Sentinel Landscapes Partnership carries a noble mission. It aims to strengthen military readiness, conserve natural resources, and boost agricultural and forestry economies amongst other objectives. Importantly, it also enhances resilience to climate change, with the partnership encouraging collaborative land-use practices around military installations.

The Sentinel Landscape designation for Kittatinny Ridge means a new level of protection for the region’s natural resources. It is an invitation for various entities including federal agencies, state and local governments, and non-governmental organizations to work coherently towards sustainable practices. Farms will keep farming and wildlands remain wild – the irresistible charm of Kittatinny Ridge continues to flourish.

This title also fortifies conservation efforts in the region and protects the training missions of the Pennsylvania National Guard. Known as one of the most active training centers for our armed forces, Fort Indiantown Gap continues to serve as a bastion of national security.

Governor Josh Shapiro applauds this decision, recognizing its role in strengthening national defense and preserving natural resources. The collective efforts of over 50 federal, state, local, and private entities have contributed towards securing this designation, furthering prospects of funds for conservation and fortifying Fort Indiantown Gap as a leading military installation.

Kittatinny Ridge also plays a pivotal role in Pennsylvania’s rural economy. A 2019 U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service grant has already made strides in preserving farms along this area. Impending zoning changes and land protection highlight the potential advantages of this new title.

Major General Mark Schindler, Pennsylvania’s adjutant general, reinforces the value of this designation. “This designation assists in protecting critical land and air space our service members and civilian partners train in, while demonstrating our commitment to preserving our natural resources and farmland,” said Major General Mark Schindler.

Scott Bearer, Chief Land Manager for the Pennsylvania Game Commission, points out the importance of Kittatinny Ridge for avian life, particularly for migrating raptors. The recent bobwhite quail reintroduction at Letterkenny Army Depot serves as another example of this rich biodiversity. “These wildlife species are among the many that will benefit from sentinel landscape designation,” Bearer said.

A new chapter dawns for Pennsylvania with this Sentinel Landscape designation. The protection of its precious natural resources and the safeguarding of our military training grounds signify a win for all. Private landowners are now invited to become part of this initiative and simultaneously contribute to environmental stability and national security.

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