Perry County is a region on the edge, preserving rural culture near a major metropolitan area. Across the Susquehanna River northwest of the city of Harrisburg, and north of the suburban/urban hub of Cumberland County, is Perry County. A number of highways and state routes connect Perry County to its urban neighbors. A large number of the county’s population commutes back and forth each day—yet urban sprawl has not breached its borders. Frequently described as “rural” or “open,” Perry County has retained much of its original character from its founding in 1820: a forested and farm-field-dotted landscape bordered by the Susquehanna River to the east and the Kittatinny Ridge to the south.
The forested hills, streams, and scenic views provided by Perry County’s open spaces have been a major part of its residents’ natural heritage, culture, and pride. Outdoor recreation activities—such as hunting, fishing, and hiking—attract thousands of visitors annually and play an important role in residents’ quality of life, especially during tough economic times. Perry County’s forested ridges and stream valleys are productive assets that generate over $900 million annually in avoided costs for natural system services and air pollution removal, reduced healthcare costs, revenues from outdoor recreation and local and state taxes, and increased tax revenues from real estate premiums.
Perry County has over 1,500 miles of streams that flow to the Chesapeake Bay, and is the ideal location for second-home communities, especially those associated with recreational activities. The natural setting has made the county a popular destination for hiking, biking, and fishing. Perry County’s leading industry is agriculture, with over $140 million total sales from about 889 farms averaging 152 acres each. To date, Perry County has 9,264 acres preserved under the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture’s Farmland Preservation program—an impressive 31 percent of which were donated.
Click the links below to see how Perry County’s natural assets are essential to our everyday life: