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Lancaster Conservancy acquires 270-acre tract of land in York County for preservation

Conservancy said it hopes to formally open the Reist Nature Preserve in Lower Chanceford Township to the public in the next few years.
Credit: Lancaster Conservancy

YORK COUNTY, Pa. — The Lancaster Conservancy announced Thursday it has acquired 270 acres of land in Lower Chanceford Township, York County, that it will set aside for preservation.

The Reist Nature Preserve will be named for the Reist family, which has owned and cared for the land for more than 100 years, the Conservancy said.

The land falls within the Susuquehanna Riverlands Conservation Landscape, and the Conservancy said it hopes to formally open the area to the public in the next few years, after an intensive management and planning process is complete.

The Conservancy and the Reist family worked with its conservation partners, including the Farm and Natural Lands Trust of York, for almost 10 years to secure the land in the preserve for permanent protection.

Funding for the purchase of the land was secured through the PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, with matching funds from the York County Open Space and Land Protection Grant Program, The Conservation Fund, the Reist family, and other private donors, the Conservancy said.

“The York County Open Space and Land Preservation Program provided matching grant funds for the Reist Nature Preserve," said York County President Commissioner Julie Wheeler. "The program priorities include protecting working agricultural properties, natural resources, and recreational open space.

“The Reist property is an excellent example of a property rich with natural resources that make it worthy of protection. This is important, not only for our current York County residents to enjoy, but to ensure the on-going protection of our natural resources for all future generations.” 

The new Reist Nature Preserve connects to an over 1,000 acre corridor of contiguously protected natural lands that include Susquehannock State Park, State Game Lands No. 181, and Brookfield Renewable land donated to the Conservancy as part of a large landscape protection effort. 

The new preserve includes an important part of the viewshed across Lake Aldred from popular Conservancy preserves like Tucquan Glen & Pyfer, House Rock, Reed Run, and Pinnacle Overlook. 

“The Susquehanna Riverlands is a top-notch outdoor playground,” said Kyle Shenk, Northeast Regional Director of The Conservation Fund. “It’s a joy to support the Conservancy’s vision with the addition of the Reist Nature Preserve.” 

Credit: Lancaster Conservancy

Reist Nature Preserve resides in the DCNR Susquehanna Riverlands Conservation Landscape, for which the Conservancy serves as the community lead, helping to protect, enhance, and grow economic initiatives within the landscape. 

“DCNR is pleased to partner with the Lancaster Conservancy to conserve this regionally significant property in the Susquehanna Riverlands Conservation Landscape that will provide a unique area of public open space connecting to Susquehannock State Park, and play a big role in addressing the watershed’s resiliency and pollution absorbing capacity,” said DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn. “This property will safeguard wildlife habitat, provide new recreation opportunities, and protect the waters of Pennsylvania and the Chesapeake Bay.” 

The Reist Nature Preserve provides important natural habitat for birds, amphibians, reptiles, and other wildlife, and contains nearly a mile of Counselman Run, a scenic and vital headwaters stream, that cascades through the property into the Susquehanna River, the Conservancy said.

Its scenic and steep sloped forests are home to beautiful stands of tulip poplars, maple, hemlock, and oak, with a lush understory ranging from ferns and ephemerals to mountain laurel, the Conservancy added.

“Large wooded parcels of privately owned land are rare,” said Conservancy President Phil Wenger. “Chris Reist who, along with his brothers Joel and Hans, was instrumental in caring for and then permanently protecting this treasured natural place.

"I first explored these rocky outcroppings, amazing streams, and mature forests on the banks of the Susquehanna 40 years ago. Today, we are blessed to protect this iconic land for our community, forever.” 

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