Stewards of a 47-acre property believed to be the site of a Revolutionary War prison camp need to raise $400,000 by May if they hope to secure the property.

The Friends of Camp Security organization, which has pushed for the plot's historical preservation, is seeking private donors to make up the funding gap, said organization president Carol Tanzola.

The land is being held, for now, by The Conservation Fund, a nonprofit that has been acting as a stopgap financier until Friends of Camp Security can secure its share of funding. The Conservation Fund bought the Springettsbury Township parcel last May from developer Timothy Pasch for $1.05 million.

Camp Security is one of only a handful of POW camps established during the Revolutionary War era that have not been lost to residential or commercial development, according to the

Fund, and it was named one of "America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places" in 2005 by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The 47-acre Locust Grove Road property is believed to have held about 1,500 captured British soldiers and their families between 1781 and 1783.

Springettsbury Township and the state's Department of Conservation and Natural Resources have committed $350,000 in project funding, with The Conservation Fund seeking grants. Tanzola said if Friends of Camp Security can't get its $400,000 share by May, the parcel will go back on the market, and there's no guarantee it would be preserved.


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Why it matters: Preservation is important, she said, because of what might be located on that piece of land. Of the original 280 acres, about 115 acres have already been preserved, with this 47-acre parcel the only portion still available for preservation. And that 47 acres has already been found to house more than 10,000 artifacts, uncovered in a 1978 archaeological dig. Even more could be uncovered if the money is raised and the parcel is preserved, Tanzola said.

"It can really tell a lot about the way these people lived," Tanzola said.

The Conservation Fund plans to transfer ownership of the property to the township, which gave $100,000 toward the effort, if the fundraising is completed in time.

To donate, people can send money to: Friends of Camp Security, PO Box 20008, York, PA 17402. More information is available at www.campsecurity.com.

-- Reach Andrew Shaw at ashaw@yorkdispatch.com