Dr. Claire Jantz is making a positive and sustainable difference in the South Mountain region, and her work was recognized last month with the Spirit of South Mountain Award. This award is granted each year by the South Mountain Partnership (SMP), a public-private partnership lead by the PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, as well as citizens, businesses, non-profits and government officials. The annual award recognizes an individual who works to advance the South Mountain Landscape.

“Dr. Jantz’s work is transforming the South Mountain landscape from a region with little support available to partners wanting to make meaningful, data driven decisions about land use planning, transportation, conservation, recreation, and sustainability into to a region with a highly-regarded and accessible sustainability research center,” said Katie Hess, director of the South Mountain Partnership and director of Pennsylvania Landscape Conservation Appalachian Trail Conservancy.

The professor of geography/earth science and director for the Center for Land Use and Sustainability at Shippensburg University serves on multiple SMP committees, the Central Pennsylvania Conservancy board, is a supporter of the Cumberland Valley Rails-to-Trails Council, and as a member of the Rotary Club of Shippensburg, Borough of Shippensburg Zoning Hearing Board and Shade Tree Commission. She is a founding member and chair of the Friends of Michaux State Forest, working with DCNR to protect 85,000 acres of Michaux State Forest that house natural, cultural, and recreational resources at the heart of the South Mountain.

Jantz recently protected one of the region’s remaining 19th century iron furnaces, Big Pond Furnace, from development and arranged transfer to The Archaeological Conservancy for permanent protection and future research.

“It is imperative that we develop more role models like Claire to be bridges between academic disciplines and local communities and organizations and who help us to bring all people together to creatively solve the problems that we face as a region and a society,” said Hess.