DCNR announces major expansion of Ibberson Conservation Area

DCNR Secretary Richard Allan recently announced that 433 woodland acres currently known as the Alpha Tree Farm will be added to the Joseph E. Ibberson Conservation Area in Dauphin County as the result of a generous donation by Mr. Ibberson?s estate.

The original 350 acres of the conservation area were donated to DCNR by Ibberson, a former state employee, in 1998. He died last year.

“Mr. Ibberson was fondly known for his forest conservation and philanthropy, and we are thrilled to receive this land as a gift to the citizens of Pennsylvania „to be held in the public trust, with minimal development,? as was his desire,” Allan said.

The original Ibberson Conservation Area contains centuries-old timber stands. The Alpha Tree Farm, which is separate from the original area and will be known as the “western” portion, is located on the north slope of Peters Mountain in Halifax, Dauphin County.

“It’s amazing that a modestly-paid employee of DCNR could contribute so much to the forestry profession and to the people of Pennsylvania,” said Dr. Henry Gerhold, co-executor of the Ibberson estate. “Besides giving the properties which he loved dearly, he made substantial gifts to support the education of the next generation of foresters.”

“We had the pleasure of working with this fellow Penn Stater over much of his productive career, and we recognize Ibberson’s gift to the commonwealth as an intrinsic measure of this gentleman’s profession, his love of forests and his desire to share this particular gem with his fellow citizens of Pennsylvania. Long may his virtues live and contribute to the lives of others,” co-executor Dr. Charles Strauss said.

DCNR intends to improve the current public access area on the farm and will work to add connecting trails to the nearby Appalachian Trail.

After graduation from Yale in 1948, Ibberson was recruited and hired by the Department of Forests and Waters, Bureau of Forestry, to develop the first forest management plans for the then 2-million acres of Pennsylvania state forest land.

By 1955, all of the forests were mapped and had management plans. Ibberson then created the Division of Forests Advisory Services which further expanded the management plans and targeted the preservation of endangered species and wetlands.

From this work grew the Division of Forest Pest Management, which became a recognized leader in rearing and releasing predators and parasites to effectively control forest pests.

Ibberson was instrumental in establishing the service forester program and now there are foresters in many counties to aid private citizens in managing their forested land.

Beginning in 1962, Ibberson began buying land in Dauphin County to create a tree farm on which he practiced various forms of forest management. In 1977, he retired as the chief of the Division of Forestry Advisory Services for the Pennsylvania Department of Forest and Waters, now known as DCNR, but continued to actively tree farm his own property and serve as a forestry consultant.

Mr. Ibberson passed away on April 23, 2011.

Conservation areas are managed in the state park system, but differ slightly as they are donated and protected as open space for passive recreation, with no through roads.

For more information about the Joseph E. Ibberson Conservation Area, go here.

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