On August 1, 2022, ClearWater Conservancy finalized the purchase of an 8.78-acre property located along Houserville Road in State College, in the direct center of the Spring Creek Watershed. The property includes a barn, farmhouse, and open field on one side of Houserville Road, as well as open land across the street that sits along 1,300 feet of Spring Creek.
The property was purchased from the Rockenbeck and Umberger Families who are committed to ensuring the scenic, ecologically significant, and historically important property is permanently conserved and responsibly stewarded.
ClearWater Conservancy has been involved with restoration efforts on this portion of Spring Creek since 2004, when the landowners, ClearWater, and many partnering organizations planted hundreds of trees and shrubs along Spring Creek. In fact, this effort was one of the very first projects for ClearWater’s Riparian Conservation Program, a program that has since been involved with the restoration and maintenance of over 23 miles of local stream.
These stream restoration efforts have been continually supported over the years by the Rockenbeck and Umberger families and partnering organizations that include University Area Joint Authority (UAJA), National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the Western Pennsylvania Watershed Protection Program, PA DEP and its Growing Greener Program, U.S. Fish and Wildlife, Spring Creek Chapter of Trout Unlimited, ClearWater Conservancy, and even Penn State faculty and students.
The purchase and conservation of Rockenbeck property is another success related to ClearWater’s long-term goals of conserving the vital yet sensitive stream and ecosystem located in close proximity to downtown State College. Other conservation initiatives the organization has been a part of that are near or directly connected to the Rockenbeck property include Thompson Woods, Walnut Springs Park, Millbrook Marsh Nature Center, Spring Creek Park, and the Penn State Sheep Farm. These ecosystems function best when streamside forests and land conservation projects are connected, especially as those properties with implemented riparian restoration and conservation efforts provide critical corridors for movement of wildlife.
The property is also historically significant, as it has close connections to Jacob Houser, of which the town ‘Houserville” got its name. This land was also once a major trading, hunting and fishing grounds for the Indigenous People who lived here prior to and during the time when the area was inhabited by settlers and utilized for agriculture and trading. ClearWater looks forward to sharing the abundance of history that we are learning about from the families as well as local historians.
In addition to ensuring that a beautiful and ecologically significant stretch of Spring Creek in the center of the Spring Creek Watershed will be conserved permanently and restoration work will continue here, ClearWater Conservancy is also exploring potential opportunities for the Rockenbeck property, including possibilities of the area becoming a place that exemplifies the mission of the organization and showcases its environmental education and outreach efforts.
While the Rockenbeck property is not currently maintained for public use, ClearWater will continue to provide updates about visiting the streamside property once the safest and most convenient access points and paths are determined.