Park supporters will acquire two more historical pieces of land for the Susquehanna Heritage Park in eastern York County, thanks to a $1.4 million grant from the state.

The money will be used to buy about 15 acres of the Oscar Leibhart site, which is part of one the last-known villages of the Susquehannock Indians. The archaeological site in Lower Windsor Township is on the National Register of Historic Places.

The funds also will buy a 44-acre parcel known as the Wilton Riverside Lands, which includes a portion of the Mason-Dixon Trail. It is in Hellam Township.

Park supporters received the grant from the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources because John and Kathryn Zimmerman donated their Pleasant Garden home last year to the Lancaster-York Heritage Region.

Pleasant Garden, which also will be part of the park, was used as a match to receive the state funding, which will be spent to preserve the other two properties, said Mark Platts, president of the Lancaster-York Heritage Region.
 
Destination concept

DCNR Secretary Michael DiBerardinis presented a check to Farm & Natural Lands Trust Board President Michael Goodling during a news conference Thursday afternoon at Highpoint Scenic Vista and Recreation Area.

Highpoint is a county-owned parcel, which will be part of the Susquehanna Heritage Park. The park will involve multiple sites with various owners.

Jackie Kramer, former executive director of the Farm & Natural Lands Trust, said the destination concept for the park is starting to come together.


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People can kayak on the river. They can hike the Mason-Dixon Trail. They can go to historical sites.

"It's going to be a place to go," she said.

The owners of the properties being preserved -- County Line Quarry of the Wilton Riverside Lands and Grove Enterprise LLC of the Oscar Leibhart site -- were willing to preserve the land after being approached about it, park supporters said.

The additions will preserve nearly 60 acres.
 
Preserving land

The Oscar Leibhart site will be turned over to the Archaeological Conservancy. Who will own the Wilton Riverside Lands has yet to be determined, Platts said.

Park supporters are working with Safe Harbor Power & Light, owners of Klines Run Park, to build a visitors education center at the park, Platts said.

It would teach people about the history of the river and native peoples.

Jim Hooper, president of the Mason-Dixon Trail System, said he thinks it's important to preserve land now.

He used to live in Washington, D.C., and, years ago, the beltway was the boundary between the suburbs and the countryside. It's not that way anymore.

"If we aren't careful, all of York County will be the same way," he said.

OFFICIAL VISITS

Michael DiBerardinis, secretary of the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, spent two days touring the Susquehanna River in York and Lancaster counties.

His trip included kayaking on the river, taking a hike at Lock 12 Recreation Park and talking with officials about their plans for land along the Susquehanna.