Nineteen acres of forested land buffering Sideling Hill Creek in Mann Township, Bedford County have been protected and added to the now 375-acre Sideling Hill Creek Conservation Area, the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy announced on May 15, 2020.

The newly protected land provides habitat for wildlife and serves as an important riparian buffer, which helps cool and improve water quality for Sideling Hill Creek. The creek, a headwater tributary stream in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, originates in the steep cliffs of Bedford County and crosses into Maryland, eventually draining into the Potomac River. It is home to populations of rare freshwater mussels.

This land protection comes approximately one year after 100 acres in nearby Union Township were conserved and added to the Conservancy’s Sideling Hill Creek Conservation Area. The area, open to the public in Bedford and Fulton counties for nature watching, fishing and hunting, protects the unique shale barrens plant community, forests and several globally rare plants. Shale barrens are found in the Central Appalachian Mountains from Pennsylvania to Virginia and are characterized by their steep, dry, open woodland habitats.

“Adding important land to this conservation area highlights our continued commitment to protecting the ecologically significant areas in our region so that they forever remain a part of the natural heritage of Pennsylvania,” said Tom Saunders, president and CEO of the Conservancy. “This rare ecosystem of plant and animal communities cannot be found anywhere else in our region and that’s why protecting this unique land is so special.”

The property was acquired through the generosity of private donors and with grant funding from the PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Hamer Foundation, Commonwealth Finance Authority and National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.