Kittatinny Ridge Designated as Sentinel Landscape around Fort Indiantown Gap, Letterkenny Army Depot

Pennsylvania  announced one of the most biodiverse regions in eastern North America, Pennsylvania’s Kittatinny Ridge, has been designated a Sentinel Landscape. 

The title will help fortify existing conservation efforts, protecting the natural habitat and the training missions of the Pennsylvania National Guard and air and missile defense at Letterkenny Army Depot. Additionally, the 50 different federal, state, local, and private entities who helped secure the designation will continue to work together to pursue funding opportunities for the landscape, to continue to protect the robust natural resources in the area, and to make sure Fort Indiantown Gap remains a leading military installation. 

“Fort Indiantown Gap is home to the Pennsylvania National Guard and serves as one of the most active training centers for the National Guard and our armed forces – and the sentinel landscape designation cements its status as a critically important area for our national security,” said Governor Josh Shapiro. 

Being designated as a sentinel landscape means federal agencies, state and local governments, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) come together to work with willing landowners and land managers to advance sustainable, mutually beneficial land-use practices around military installations. Land and natural resources within the landscape boundary could be protected through conservation easements with landowners or receive priority consideration for participation in grant and assistance programs so farms can keep farming and wildlands stay wild. 

Kittatinny Ridge is now one of 18 designated sentinel landscapes in the nation.  Federal, state, and local governments own about 17% of the landscape. Private landowners hold most of the land. The new Kittatinny Ridge Sentinel Landscape (KRSL) designation will assist in defining zoning and protecting land to the east, south, and west of Fort Indiantown Gap (FTIG). 

“Home to headquarters, Pennsylvania National Guard, FTIG is the busiest National Guard training facility in the nation,” said Maj. Gen. Mark Schindler, Pennsylvania’s adjutant general and head of the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs. “This designation assists in protecting critical land and air space our service members and civilian partners train in, while demonstrating our commitment to preserving our natural resources and farmland.” 

The Kittatinny Ridge also plays a critical role in Pennsylvania’s rural economy. Following a Regional Conservation Partnership Program grant in 2019, the PA Department of Agriculture has led a $10 million USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service grant-funded project focused on preserving and stewarding farms near and along the Kittatinny Ridge. To date, more than 2,200 acres of land have been protected through this effort, and the project is ongoing.  

“Every farm that commits to conservation or preservation secures Pennsylvania’s future, safeguarding productive farmland for generations to come,” said Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding. “The designation as a sentinel landscape isn’t just about present advantages; it’s an investment in the enduring resilience and prosperity of our farms and the agricultural economy of tomorrow.”