In the mid-1970’s, the Central PA Conservancy was simply a grassroots coalition of concerned citizens, sportsmen, and naturalists who mobilized a recycling program to raise money to save Stony Creek Valley. Originally named the Stony Creek Valley Coalition, the group was successful in opposing PPL’s efforts to construct a hydroelectric facility that would flood the valley and destroy important habitat and recreation areas just 10 miles north of Harrisburg. It took several years, but the effort stopped the plans as well as pressing for the designation of Stony Creek as the first protected waterway in the Pennsylvania Wild and Scenic Rivers Program. The land is now managed by the PA Game Commission and consists of 18,000 acres.
After this victory, members of the Stony Creek Valley Coalition remained together and incorporated as the Central Pennsylvania Conservancy in 1982. While focused at first on recycling efforts, members of the CPC became increasingly more aware of the need for a regional open space preservation program or a local land trust to counter the rapid, unplanned development and suburban sprawl that continued to take over local communities through the 80’s and 90’s. CPC began to focus solely on land and natural resource protection.
Since then, the CPC expanded its land protection efforts to permanently protect over 5,000 acres of land in Central Pennsylvania, encompassing various tools such as outright acquisition, conservation easements, and large properties that were purchased then transferred to state conservation agencies or other conservation organizations. The organization continues these efforts today, primarily focusing on conservation easements. It is active in many regional partnerships focused on natural resource protection and has started a conservation leadership overnight camp for youth at the Ironmaster’s Mansion at Pine Grove Furnace State Park.
In 2010, the Central Pennsylvania Conservancy took on the renovation of the Ironmaster’s Mansion Hostel when the facility had deteriorated to the point of being closed down by the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. The CPC saw an opportunity to step in and partner with DCNR and Pine Grove Furnace State Park to preserve an important historic resource for the community, continue to provide overnight accommodation to Appalachian Trail thu-hikers, hold CPC events and programs, and rent the facility to outside groups to support its own expenses.