There is now more land in Cameron County for hikers to explore and wildlife to thrive, thanks to the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy’s permanent protection of 414 acres of forestland in Gibson Township.
The property was immediately conveyed to the PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) to become a new addition to Elk State Forest, one of several popular state forests in the PA Wilds that safeguards water quality, large forests and wildlife habitat for many species including deer, black bear, and elk.
This newly conserved forested land protects more than 6,500 feet of frontage along Driftwood Branch Sinnemahoning Creek and contains mountain streams, small wetland areas, old agricultural fields and mature timber stands. These natural features, along with the land’s low-elevation riparian zones, provide a high level of resiliency to climate change because of its varied topography and forest habitats. Grindstone Hollow Run, a wild brook trout stream, flows through the property. These tributary streams are within the West Branch Susquehanna River watershed, a priority area for the Conservancy’s land conservation and watershed protection programs.
This property is now a part of Elk State Forest’s Bucktail State Park Natural Area, a wild expanse of northern hardwood forest, steep mountains, beautiful hills and deep valleys that provide important habitat for many species. Nature lovers frequent this area, especially in the fall, via a 75-mile scenic stretch of PA 120 along the West Branch of the Susquehanna River and Sinnemahoning Creek. Located directly north of the Bucktail Overlook (also known as Top of the World), the property provides a panoramic view of the Sinnemahoning Creek watershed and is a popular place for elk viewing.
“Protecting this beautiful land helps water quality, saves and connects forestland, provides critical habitat for species at risk and offers public recreation opportunities, so it achieves many of our crucial land protection criteria,” says Tom Saunders, president and CEO of the Conservancy. “We’re pleased to continue our longstanding efforts to add lands to the state forest system for all to enjoy.”
Conservation of this forestland was made possible thanks to funding from DCNR’s Bureau of Forestry.
Since the 1950s, the Conservancy has protected and conveyed approximately 200,000 acres to either DCNR for state parks or forests, Pennsylvania Game Commission, Allegheny National Forest or other public entities as public land to be freely enjoyed by all. With those acres, the Conservancy has helped establish 11 state parks.
About the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy:
The Western Pennsylvania Conservancy (WPC) enhances the region by protecting and restoring exceptional places. A private nonprofit conservation organization founded in 1932, WPC has helped establish 11 state parks, conserved more than a quarter million acres of natural lands, protected or restored more than 3,000 miles of rivers and streams, and assessed thousands of wildlife species and their habitats. The Conservancy owns and operates Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater, which is on the UNESCO World Heritage List and symbolizes people living in harmony with nature. In addition, WPC enriches our region’s cities and towns through 130 community gardens and other green spaces and thousands of trees that are planted with the help of more than 7,000 volunteers. The work of the Conservancy is accomplished through the support of more than 10,000 members. For more information, visit WaterLandLife.org or Fallingwater.org.
This post adapted from a release from Western Pennsylvania Conservancy.