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MU students volunteer at Otter Creek

Volunteers collect debris out of Otter Creek to help in the restoration of this nature preserve. Photo Courtesy of Lancaster Conservancy Instagram.

Carly O’Neill
Features Editor

The Lancaster Conservancy was founded in 1969 and has been helping preserve and maintain natural lands throughout the Lancaster and York County regions for 50 years. They manage 46 nature preserves and 69 conservation easements, making up a total of 6,346 acres owned. 

On Sunday, Nov. 10 from 1-5 P.M., students from Millersville, along with other local volunteers came together in York county, to help restore Otter Creek. The creek was hit with a recent devastating flood, leaving pick-up trucks, boats, and trailers polluting the water. The Lancaster Conservancy has been working on removing the piles of debris from the water for over a year now, and this event marked their 40th volunteer event in 2019.

The students were bundled up in their winter gear, with work gloves on hand to haul the debris up from the creek, back to a future landfill.

Students were met by Brandon Tennis, Director of Stewardship, and Steve Mohr, Preserves Manager, as they guided the group on a 1-2 mile hike into the woods of York County to the creek. Since the Conservancy had previously berid the creek of flooding debris, all that was left was to move the pile of broken TV’s, scrap metal, and home appliances up the steep hill they had hiked and out of the nature preserve for good.

After too many trips and three separate piles, the students and Conservancy staff had finally restored the path leading to this beautiful habitat. 

According to Tennis, “We just adopted a new strategic plan in the past year, in which we intend in the next ten years to double the amount of land we preserved in the last fifty years.” 

Since Lancaster only has 16 percent left of its remaining forests, the Conservancy has been working hard to give back to the county. They also expanded the Convoy Wetlands to a total of 71 acres, provided a home to several native plant and animal species, and the Welsh Mountain Nature Preserve to 940 acres, which contains the Conservancy’s only accessible trail compliant with ADA standards.

“We really pride ourselves on two things. One is preserving forests, but then also developing public access for those forested landscapes..just for human beings to come out and enjoy and also kind of reconnect to the forest and everything that it means,” said Tennis

For those interested in getting involved in more Lancaster Conservancy volunteer opportunities, another Otter Creek cleanup will take place on November 21, from 1-5 p.m. Come roll up your sleeves and contribute to restoring a nature preserve home to wild trout and native pawpaw trees.

Students who are looking to help out in environmental conservation can partake in events such as attending educational events held by environmental organizations, and learning how they can reduce their waste production and plastic usage. The Lancaster Conservancy also hosts engaging community events for locals to attend and learn more about their surrounding habitat.