Ship faculty helm projects to benefit South Mountain Region

Large metarhyolite outcrop in the Carbaugh Run Natural Area

Faculty in the Geography/Earth Science Department recently received funding for projects that have provided a valuable resource to the South Mountain Region.

Shippensburg University has been involved with the South Mountain Partnership Mini-Grant Program since it started about a decade ago and is administered by the Appalachian Trail Conservancy with financial support from the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. The mini-grant program provides funding for on-the-ground projects to sustain the landscape and promote its resources.

The South Mountain Region connects portions of Adams, Cumberland, Franklin and York counties. It is one of seven conservation landscapes identified by Pennsylvania’s DCNR.

Ship’s own Dr. Paul Marr and Dr. Claire Jantz each applied for mini-grants to fund separate projects for the benefit of the South Mountain region.

Marr received $13,500 and partnered with Matapeake Soil LLC and PennDOT archaeologist Joe Baker to develop a predictive model for the locations of historic and prehistoric cultural features in the Carbaugh Run Natural Area of Michaux State Forest.

The project helmed by Marr focused on fine-grained metarhyolite, a rock well suited for tool making. Data collected in the project will help resource managers protect archaeological sites across the landscape.

“They’re using a lot of our data and a lot of the rock samples that we took to try to develop a chemistry model to see if they can trace individual artifacts back to an individual location, which is kind of neat,” Marr said.

Graduate student Joshua Barth assisted with the project, earning praise from Marr for braving the summer heat.

The research proved fruitful in that previously unrecorded prehistoric quarry sites were located. The discovery of many isolated quarry locations and fewer quarrying complexes consisting of multiple individual quarries suggests that metarhyolite from certain locations was deemed more desirable due to specific characteristics.

Jantz was awarded $2,000 to develop a story map to illustrate projects funded through the mini-grant program.

“This was the first time where you can see where all the investments have been made and sort of where they’re clustering. That might mean they can make decisions to continue to invest in one thing or to invest in new areas,” Jantz said. “But it was also a way to try to get people who are visiting the website to say ‘Oh, I didn’t know that all this stuff was here.’”

Graduate student Patricia Newdeck shouldered a great deal of the responsibility with the map’s creation.

“There were almost 60 different projects that had been funded. (Newdeck) basically pulled all the information together from the South Mountain Partnership website and had to think about a lot about how it should be organized, how it should be presented,” Jantz said. “She did all the cartographic design and designed the whole story map. And she designed it so that it’s updatable so as new projects are funded we can add to the map and keep it up to date.”

More information about these projects is available through the Shippensburg University Center for Land Use and Sustainability’s website.