On Thursday, April 30th, the Pennsylvania Highlands Coalition joined with our friends at Natural Lands Trust and the Schuylkill Highlands Conservation Landscape to host the first ever Schuylkill Highlands Legislative Breakfast and Speaker Event in Pottstown.
The event was a unique opportunity for land trusts, municipal planners, trail maintainers, and others to celebrate recent successes and to connect with local decision makers about important conservation issues in the Schuylkill Highlands Conservation Landscape and the broader Pennsylvania Highlands region.
Our keynote speakers were former president and C.E.O. of Penn Future and current Acting Secretary of the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Cindy Dunn, and former U.S. Congressman Jim Gerlach, currently a Senior Legislative Advisor at Venable LLP. Their insightful remarks touched on the special natural and cultural resource values of the Schuylkill Highlands, the incredible history of conservation work in the Pennsylvania Highlands, and the challenges and opportunities for conservation funding on the horizon. Their comments were followed by a panel discussion with State Senator Judy Schwank and State Representatives Mark Gillen, Craig Staats, and Marcy Toepel. Questions posed to panel participants were diverse and included concerns about invasive species in the Pennsylvania Highlands, questions about the 2015 budget process, and inquiries about Act 13 funding from Marcellus Shale natural gas development. After the panel, participants continued conversations with the legislators over coffee. More than one panelist thanked the attendees for the opportunity to learn more about regional conservation in the Pennsylvania Highlands.
Pennsylvania Highlands Coalition is grateful for all of the speakers and to our many partners, including Schuylkill Highlands Conservation Landscape, Natural Lands Trust, the Schuylkill River National and State Heritage Area, French and Pickering Creeks Conservation Trust, Berks Conservancy, Heritage Conservancy, and Audubon Pennsylvania. We look forward to holding similar events in other areas of the Pennsylvania Highlands region!