PA Highlands Coalition

About the Pennsylvania Highlands Coalition

The Pennsylvania Highlands Coalition is a diverse and effective public-private partnership that conserves critical working and natural lands, as well as natural resources. The Coalition also promotes the development and enjoyment of recreational trails in the Pennsylvania Highlands. The Pennsylvania Highlands Coalition has adopted a strategic plan to guide our efforts from 2014-2020.

Mission

Our mission is to conserve and connect critical lands and natural resources across the Pennsylvania Highlands and to promote the recreational enjoyment of these resources.

The Pennsylvania Highlands Coalition has identified common natural, recreational and cultural themes that define the Highlands region. Those include a unique industrial past, a complex network of multi-use trails for recreational use, fertile agricultural lands, outstanding bio-diversity, wooded uplands, and clean drinking water. 

In order to preserve and enhance these qualities, the coalition focuses our efforts on these three areas of work:

Land Conservation – The Pennsylvania Highlands Coalition’s private land trusts, conservation organizations, and public agencies work cooperatively to advance a shared land conservation vision. The Coalition serves as a think-tank where ideas about conservation are discussed and developed collaboratively. In addition, the Coalition works to secure land conservation funding, including nominating projects through the federal Highlands Conservation Act, which funds the highest priority land conservation projects in the region.

Regional and Local Trail Planning – The Pennsylvania Highlands features several local and regional trails such as the Appalachian Trail, the Horse-Shoe Trail, Schuylkill River Trail, the Delaware & Lehigh Trail, and numerous, popular trail networks in places like the Hopewell Big Woods and in the many State Parks within the region. The Pennsylvania Highlands Trail Network (PHTN) is a 300 mile trail network that will connect several trail systems across the entire Pennsylvania Highlands region.

Conservation Landscapes – Overlapping four Conservation Landscapes, the Pennsylvania Highlands Coalition collaborates within the Highlands region to advance the goals of these Conservation Landscapes by connecting communities, and trails, and furthering shared regional conservation and recreation goals.

Advocacy and Education– The coalition is actively engaged in educating the public and decision makers about the Pennsylvania Highlands, its history, and ecological significance. This includes working towards a state-wide recognition for the Pennsylvania Highlands region that could include incentives for regionally-based land conservation tools. We also produce educational materials and digital tools to promote and advance regional conservation.

Member organizations

Appalachian Mountain Club
Audubon Pennsylvania
Berks Nature
Brandywine Conservancy
Cooks Creek Watershed Association
Delaware and Lehigh National Heritage Corridor
Delaware River Greenway Partnership
Farm and Natural Lands Trust of York County
French and Pickering Creeks Conservation Trust
Green Valleys Association
Hay Creek Watershed Association
Heritage Conservancy
Horse-Shoe Trail Conservancy
Keystone Conservation Trust
Lancaster County Conservancy
Lancaster County Planning Commission
Lancaster Farmland Trust
Land Conservancy of Adams County
Lebanon County Conservation District
Lebanon Valley Conservancy
Maiden Creek Watershed Association
Manada Conservancy
Montgomery County Lands Trust
Mount Gretna Bird Club
National Park Service – Recreational Trails and Conservation Assistance Program
Natural Lands
Pennsylvania Environmental Council
Pennsylvania Association of Watersheds and Rivers
Pine Creek Valley Watershed Association
Schuylkill Highlands Conservation Landscape
South Mountain Conservation Landscape
Susquehanna Greenway Partnership
Tinicum Conservancy
Wildlands Conservancy
The Garden Club of America: Pennsylvania: Wissihickon
York County Planning Commission

To learn more about the Pennsylvania Highlands Coalition, contact Kimberly Witt at kwitt@outdoors.org or 610-868-6903.

News

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COVID-19 Impact Report finds Increased Use on Trails in the PA Highlands and across the state

In early June 2020, Pennsylvania Environmental Council (PEC) released its report The COVID-19 Pandemic’s Impact on Pennsylvania’s Non-motorized Trails: Increased Use, Added Strain, and a Newfound Appreciation, which includes feedback from PA Highlands trail managers. Read More

Upcoming Webinar: PA Highlands Coalition to host "Discover the Highlands Trail in Pennsylvania"

On Thursday, August 6th, 2020 at 2pm, Appalachian Mountain Club staff will present the Highlands Region interactive map and Highlands StoryMap during the upcoming webinar. Read More

US Senate Passed the Great American Outdoors Act

The Great American Outdoors Act (GAOA) passed the Senate on June 17th, 2020 by a wide bipartisan margin, 73-25! Read More

Recorded Webinar: "In Defense of Public Lands: Some Lessons on its Biological, Economic, and Social Value"

Watch the webinar from early June 2020 hosted by the PA Highlands Coalition, which featured Author and Professor of Political Science Steven Davis. Read More