MARYSVILLE, Pa. (WHTM) – Located just minutes from downtown Harrisburg you’ll find Cove Mountain and the Cove Mountain Preserve. It’s a place for those who love to hike, go for a walk, or just enjoy the outdoors. However, it’s also a place that’s helping to protect our environment and local wildlife.

In 2017 The Nature Conservancy purchased roughly 350 acres of Hamer Woodlands at Cove Mountain. Then, in February of 2021 they closed on a land deal to extend that by an additional 1200 acres.

Elizabeth Hanson is the cove mountain land steward.

“The Nature Conservancy and partners have been working on protecting lands to connect properties that will be protected in perpetuity for animals to migrate. Not only birds, but all sorts of plants and animals,” said Elizabeth Hanson.

The protected land now connects to the Kittatinny Ridge, a connected corridor of mountains along the Appalachians. The ridge acts as a highway of sorts for migrating birds. However, while on their journey, finding nutritious food can become a problem when invasive plants outgrow native vegetation.

Hanson mentioned that they are working on providing access to necessary food to the birds. “We are planting mass producing species of plants on top of the ridge to attract birds that are migrating through the area so they have the necessary food, nutrition, carbohydrates to be able to make their long migrating journey.”

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Hanson, along with volunteers, have been working to make Cove Mountain a spot for Midstate residents to enjoy the outdoors. 

“When you get here there’s lot of opportunities for recreation, we have several trails, there’s lots of birding, we have a lot of really great overlooks, scenic views.”

In the past, there hasn’t been many visitors, but Hanson and the volunteers of the Susquehanna Appalachian Trail Club who help to maintain the trails, hope that’s going to change.

“Now that more people know where Cove Mountain is, I’d like to see more faces out here, getting on the trails, get your sunshine, get your exercise,” Hanson said. She added that the location is searchable via GPS apps and Cove Mountain has a parking lot, making it easy and accessible to visit.