The land described by nature writer Marcia Bonta in her books is now permanently protected, thanks to the donation of a conservation easement to the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy on her family’s 648-acre property in southcentral Pennsylvania. This is among the largest conservation easement donations in the Conservancy’s 86-year history.
For nearly 50 years, Bonta and her husband Bruce lived on their mountaintop property, known as Plummer’s Hollow, in Snyder and Tyrone townships in Blair County.
A nature author of nine books and more than 300 articles, Bonta’s writings describe her observations of the plants and animals of Plummer’s Hollow, such as raptors, songbirds, and bats, and the interdependent ecosystems on which they all depend for survival. The Bontas say saving the region’s biodiversity hotspots from development threats was an essential motivator for their decision to protect their family land.
“We’ve learned a lot about the Ridge and Valley province of central Pennsylvania from this property and taught our three sons a love of the natural world and a spirit of caring for the earth,” said Marcia Bonta. “I’ve based many of my books and articles on what I’ve observed and experienced here. I would hate to see it developed.”
The conservation easement protects the rich conservation values of this large predominantly forested property by limiting future development. Several areas on the property include stands of trees that have not been timbered since 1815. Now maturing to old-growth forest, these trees provide essential habitat for native species that rely on mature forests for their lifecycles.
Additionally, the easement safeguards the headwaters to the Chesapeake Bay. The entire watershed of Plummer’s Run, which is a small mountain tributary, drains Plummer’s Hollow into the Little Juniata River.
The Bontas will continue owning, living on, learning from, and writing about their land while hoping their gift to nature inspires nearby landowners to protect the mountain they love for the benefit of current and future generations.
“We want to make sure the property can remain as an example of a relatively unspoiled natural environment, eventually evolving into an old growth forest that will absorb as much carbon as possible to help alleviate the effects of global climate change,” she added.
Tom Saunders, president and CEO of the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, said the staff and board are inspired by the Bontas’ outstanding and enduring generosity of protecting their land.
“This donation is significant, not only for the acreage it is protecting, but also because it represents the inherent ethic the Bontas have had for decades for respecting and preserving nature and the natural world,” said Saunders. “We greatly appreciate the opportunity to ensure that Plummer’s Hollow stays protected in perpetuity.”