Oley Hills

District, Pike, & Rockland Townships, Berks County, Pennsylvania

The forested land in District, Pike and Rockland Townships, what we refer to as Oley Hills, is one of the largest undisturbed forested areas in Berks County (27,144 acres). It serves as home to five pristine watersheds that have received state-wide recognition as ‘Exceptional Value’, the highest water quality designation awarded in Pennsylvania. The protection of these five watersheds represents 38% of exceptional value watersheds in the entire Schuylkill River Watershed. We attribute this pristine water quality to the fact that this land is undeveloped, and it is a goal to maintain this status by permanently protecting the land with conservation easements.

A partnership between Berks Nature, the Pine Creek Valley Watershed Association, the Pike Oley District Preservation Coalition, the Highlands Coalition, Highlands Conservation Act, William Penn Foundation, and the PA Department of Conservation & Natural Resources, aims to permanently protect over 2200 acres in this particular area. This will not only provide future generations with the benefit of this undisturbed natural area, but will also ensure pristine conditions for these unique, high quality streams.

The Oley Hills:

•Contain 15 Pennsylvania Natural Diversity Index (PNDI) occurrences

•Contain 5 Exceptional Value waterways – are important to our drinking water supply

•Contain 2 PNDI natural communities

•Contain 8 bog turtle sites

•Are adjacent to 117 acres of State Game Lands, 25 acres public land, and nearly 1000 acres under conservation easements

•Are privately owned

•Score as a High Priority Ecological Hub in Berks – Smart Conservation Score

•Are threatened by development. The three townships have experienced an average population increase of 28% and housing increase of 26% over the past 10+ years

•Are a Critical Treasure identified by the Highlands Coalition

•Are adjacent to Oley Township, the largest National Register Historic District in PA

•Contain 102 historic sites on the PHMC inventory in these three townships

•Have been a subject of the following conservation plans and publications

•Pine Creek Watershed Protection Plan Oysterville Creek Implementation Plan

•Manatawny Creek Watershed Conservation Management Plan

•Manatawny & Hay Creek 319 Sourcewater Assessment

•Sourcewater Assessment Schuylkill River Water Supply

•Maiden Creek Watershed Management Plan

•Report of the State of the Schuylkill River Watershed

•Schuylkill River Valley National Heritage Corridor

•Contain no public water or sewer

•Contribute to the public water supply by recharging and storing groundwater

The Oley Hills will continue to be a focus project of Berks Nature. We have developed many relationships with landowners in this priority region of Berks County and look forward to assisting in the permanent protection of this important forested water source.