When Duty Calls

Update from President Sean Grace

Posted on April 30, 2020 in General

Hawk Mountain Remains Closed

We realize that Hawk Mountain is a favorite destination for outdoor recreation, drawing people not only locally but from a number of neighboring states. That, along with our narrow, rugged trails, is why we made the difficult decision to close the Sanctuary in response to the COVID crisis. I recognize that many of you are like me:  you would rather be hiking the trails of Hawk Mountain than be isolated in your homes during this period of public health crisis. But because we care about the safety of our members and staff, and the safety of our surrounding community, we made an early decision to close our trails and facilities until safe to re-open. And, we rely on public health experts and our governmental leaders to guide that decision.

At this time Hawk Mountain trails and facilities are closed and will remain so until data shows the spread of COVID-19 has reached safer levels. We have been in touch with Berks and Schuylkill County officials as well as the supervisors in Albany Township, Berks County. All have indicated that they recognize we acted responsibly and well ahead of the curve on how best to slow the spread of the virus. They appreciate that we want to be part of the solution and continue to discourage travel by remaining closed.

Christian Y. Leinbach, chairman of the Berks County Commissioners, supports this plan: “Hawk Mountain Sanctuary acted promptly and professionally in response to the COVID-19 crisis when they decided to close Hawk Mountain," he said. "In the past week, numerous vehicles have parked along Hawk Mountain Road in Albany Township. The occupants have ignored the clear signage noting the Sanctuary is closed and trespassed onto private Hawk Mountain Sanctuary property.”

“This is illegal and extremely disrespectful to both Hawk Mountain and their neighbors. Berks County is working with Albany Township, Hawk Mountain Sanctuary, and law enforcement to determine the best way to help enforce compliance with this closure,” he added.

While we have no exact date to reopen trails, the Sanctuary staff has drafted a comprehensive, phased approach that follows best procedures and protocols. We are taking all steps to prepare so when we are able, we can provide a safe and welcoming experience that follows CDC guidelines and with state, county and township guidance.

We realize that the Mountain comes most alive when our friends and members come to visit the place we all love, but our highest priority remains visitor and staff safety. We have developed a solid plan with staff and board input and driven by science-based and data-driven decisions. When we do reopen, it will be with our best foot forward.  

In the meantime, our staff continues to conduct certain raptor science-based projects following guidelines from the Pennsylvania Game Commission for social distancing in the field. We have launched a brand-new lineup of free, online virtual programs, and we will continue with all essential functions at the Mountain. Key stewardship staff who live on site continue to manage the Sanctuary and patrol the grounds, while other staff are working remotely. We are just as eager to get back to the Mountain as others are to visit, bird, and hike. When duty calls you can count on Hawk Mountain to fly forward with you and with safety in mind. 

For more information about our virtual programming and online educational content:
Virtual Programs: hawkmountain.org/education/programs/virtual-programs
Youtube Channel: youtube.com/user/HawkMountainPA (pre-recorded Stay-at-Home programs)
Facebook: facebook.com/HawkMountainSanctuary (new Raptor Bytes, video clips, and more)

For more information on what are considered essential versus non-essential statewide businesses please view the life-sustaining business guidance.

Thank you as always for your support! Yours in health and conservation,

Sean Grace

Hawk Mountain Remains Closed

4/30/20 Press Release