Eugene, Timothy and Robert Morton and their families recently donated a conservation easement on 340 acres of land in Rockdale Township, Crawford County to French Creek Valley Conservancy. The property is along Teepleville Flatts Road in the Muddy Creek subbasin of the French Creek Watershed and is located adjacent to the Erie National Wildlife Refuge, Seneca Division. This easement will serve to increase this existing protected area and has been named the Jane and Gene Morton Forest in memory of their parents.

The mature hemlock and mixed deciduous forest has changed very little since the Morton’s purchased the land in 1967 and is classified as an old growth forest. The property has been known as the Hemlock Hill Research Area and is recognized by the National Audubon Society as an Important Bird Area, as well as a research station with ongoing ornithological studies conducted since 1982. There are over eighty research papers and publications written on the work done, which have been recognized by multiple scientific journals as being “cutting edge” utilizing new techniques to track and monitor migratory species. Therefore, conserving this property and its canopy forest is of the utmost importance to provide habitat for a considerable number of migratory bird species. Both the forest and shrub land support an abundance of wildlife as well, with deer, fox, coyotes and black bear often seen in the area.

Through the FCVC conservation easement, the property will be protected and the forest will remain in its natural state with no timbering. The easement area is privately held and is not open to the public, but will still be available for biological research. French Creek Valley Conservancy is thrilled to help the Morton’s protect this valuable habitat.