I met with Kevin from the Audobon Society yesterday to walk around Trout Run Nature Preserve, Upper Allen Township, Cumberland County. The Preserve is located along Stumpstown Road between Williams Grove and Lisburn Roads.
My interest in the property has to do with the years that my grandparents (Clepper) owned the property, and later my dad rented from Charles Lanzy, who purchased the land after my grandfather’s passing in 1961. The Preserve is named for Joseph Bittenbender, a neurologist, and architectural historian. He and his wife owned the property next to the Preserve from 1963 to 1976.
As a child, I often walked to what was referred to as the “meadow.” I picked flowers and, on occasion, took my Barbies there and pretended they camped along the Trout Run that ran through the meadow. It’s where I discovered minnows and saw my first snapping turtle. The area has fond memories for me, which caused me concern when it looked like the land was neglected.
I contacted the Appalachian Audobon Society, which owns the property, and questioned the maintenance of the Preserve. Kevin, the person in charge of the preservation of the property, called me back, and we arranged to meet at the property.
We spent three hours walking the area, and Kevin explained that the Preserve’s goal is to bring native birds and plants back to their natural habitat.
I am not a conservationist, nor know what plants are invasive and are not beneficial to the “meadow’s” natural ecosystem. Kevin laid out the management plan and showed me which plants are invasive and which are native to the area.
Kevin has cared for the Preserved for seven years. His interest began as a home-schooled high student who lived in York Springs. I saw Kevin’s love for the land and his passion for returning it to its natural habitat.
I learned there was a Trindle Run Water Shed, which surprised me. Trout Run is a small (in my mind) tributary to the Yellow Breeches Creek. Kevin’s research saw that the Run begins in the parking lot area of West Shore E-Free Church, runs through the meadow down Grantham Road, and empties into the Yellow Breeches Creek above the covered bridge at Messiah University. What a journey the small stream makes. I realized how vital the Run is to the area and the unique birds and habitat that make up the Preserve.
Kevin and other conservationists have voluntarily put a lot of time and energy into rebuilding the wetlands to what they were before the takeover of invasive plants. They built a contained fire in one area to remove invasive plants and seeded the scorched earth with native vegetation. He pointed out that some invasive plants, such as cow parsley and watercress, are impossible to remove entirely.
This past summer, Messiah University’s environmental class participated in analyzing the Preserve to learn what species, native and nonnative, live there. The report is scheduled to be out in the next few weeks.
Some native plants that reappeared are pokeweed, sneezeweed, Virginia sweetspire, flowering dogwood, pin oak, and black walnut. The wildlife consists of blue herons, song sparrows, mallards, wood ducks, titmouse, white crown sparrows, white-tailed deer, and snapping turtles.
The Preserve is sentimental and holds many fond memories from my childhood. I am pleased with what Kevin and his team have done thus far and his goals. I am appreciative of the opportunity I had to walk through the Preserve. It’s a beautiful area that takes a lot of hard work to clean up and maintain. Thank you, Kevin.