CPC to Purchase McCormick's Island

CPC to Purchase McCormick's Island
On August 15, 2007, at a special event held on the lawn of The Dixon University Center, overlooking the Susquehanna River, the Central Pennsylvania Conservancy (CPC) joined with Harrisburg Mayor Stephen Reed to announce the permanent conservation of McCormick’s Island. The Central Pennsylvania Conservancy will be purchasing McCormick’s Island from the City of Harrisburg. McCormick’s Island is a 100+ acre island is located in the City of Harrisburg directly south of the I-81 bridge in the Susquehanna River and visible from the lawn of the Dixon University Center at 2986 North Second St in Harrisburg. “I commend the Mayor for supporting the Central PA Conservancy in this effort to save such an important asset of our community,” said Debra Bowman, Executive Director of the Central PA Conservancy, “We are honored to work with so many civic and community leaders as well as sportsmen’s clubs who support conserving significant natural and historic lands. Protecting land such as McCormick’s Island provides benefits that will be enjoyed by generations to come. It will promote water quality, protect the important bird area, provide recreational opportunities and maintain this beautiful view we all take pleasure in. Protecting this island helps protect The Susquehanna River Water Gap and the quality of life we have the privilege of enjoying. ” CPC’s intent is to keep the island in its natural state. It will remain open to the public for picnicking, walking and overnight rustic camping, as well as a stop along the Susquehanna River trail.   This island, like most of the Susquehanna River islands, is comprised of layered flood deposits created over many years and is a site of great historical and archeological significance.  McCormick’s, like all of the big river islands on the Susquehanna, contains a large Native American archaeological site.  Native American use of the islands as seasonal encampment sites began nearly 8000 years ago.  As floods deposited new material, successively older Indian occupations were buried beneath newer ones, so islands like McCormick’s are really big layer cakes that chronicle millennia of Native American history and land use.  Typically the evidence of Indian occupations includes stone tools, cooking hearths, ceramics in the later occupations, possible evidence of post and pole structures, and occasionally trade artifacts like beads or metal objects acquired from the Europeans after the 17th century began. Removal of artifacts is strictly prohibited.    Additionally, McCormick’s Island is in very close proximity to Wade Island. Wade Island is home to the state’s largest nesting colony of black-crowned night-herons and great egrets. Both the black-crowned night-heron and the great egret are listed on Pennsylvania’s endangered species list.To insure the protection of the birds, people are prohibited from actually stepping foot on Wade Island.  You can watch from the shoreline of McCormick’s Island everything take place- the glaring white egrets, while sitting in their nests, popping out amongst the mesh of Silver Maple and River Birch trees - a Bald Eagle as it perches atop the tallest tree on the island watching the movement of the island.  While looking around the island you can also see three other Heron's— a Great Blue Heron, a Green Back Heron, and a Black-Crown Night Heron. Wade Island is Pennsylvania’s largest multi-species rookery (nesting island). Any disturbance on McCormick’s Island will significantly affect Wade Island and the habitat.  McCormick’s Island is designated as An Important Bird Area by The National Audubon Society.  The purchase of the island will require the Central Pennsylvania Conservancy to raise a minimum of $125,000 to cover the acquisition cost, legal fees and stewardship needs. A McCormick’s Island Leadership Committee has been formed to address the needs of the island. Heading the committee is Attorney Thomas Brian York, principal of York Legal Group, located at 3511 North Front Street, whose office enjoys McCormick’s Island as its viewshed. Attorney York is joined by Matt Zieger, Team PA Foundation and CPC Board Member, Tom Sharrets, owner of Sharrets Plating Company, Ed Marsico, Dauphin County District Attorney and David Freed, District Attorney for Cumberland County. A new trail has been created on the southern tip of McCormick’s Island, extending along the western shore for approximately ½ mile. David Heath, a junior majoring in Civil Engineering at Penn State Main Campus spearheaded the effort with the help of Maryanne Gulotta, Gordie Thigpen, Dan Grieneisen, Jordan Gleim, Scott Raymond and Matthew Greene.


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