Upper Allegheny Region
The Upper Allegheny Region includes a mix of glaciated and other landscapes that supports some of the most diverse, productive and scenic forests and rivers in the eastern United States. This region encompasses the watershed of the free-flowing section of the Allegheny River in northwestern Pennsylvania and southwestern New York. At the heart of the region is the 500,000-acre Allegheny National Forest, Pennsylvania’s only national forest. The Allegheny National Forest is the linchpin of a 7,600 square mile mosaic of wilderness, working forests, wetlands, and farmland that make up the Upper Allegheny Region.
More than any other factor, the Upper Allegheny Region is defined by its forests. The region's predominantly forested landscape is the key factor contributing to its conservation value and its economic viability. Some of the largest and most ecologically diverse forests in Pennsylvania are found in the Upper Allegheny Region. The significant amount of public land in this area has helped to sustain the region’s vast expanses of forestland. Also, the globally recognized economic value of this timber resource has attracted significant investment from the wood products industry, which is another key factor that has sustained the region’s forestland. Fortunately, public land managers and the wood products industry have begun to implement sustainable forestry practices, as demonstrated by growing amount of forestland under management certified by the Forest Stewardship Council.
Rivers and Wetlands
Although historically more widely distributed, today the most significant variety of aquatic life within the Ohio River Basin in Pennsylvania is found in the free-flowing reaches of the Allegheny River and its tributaries including French Creek, Brokenstraw Creek, and the Clarion River. These waterways are home to globally significant freshwater mussel communities, rich and productive cold and warm-water fisheries, and unique creatures such as the eastern hellbender, the largest salamander in North America. Glaciated portions of the region contain natural glacial lakes, including Lake Pleasant. These lakes support rare aquatic plant communities and unique wetlands that are home to rare plants, dragonflies, amphibians and reptiles such as the eastern massasauga rattlesnake, a Pennsylvania endangered species.
- Conserving existing high-value forests with innovative and cost-effective land protection tools like conservation easements
- Working with timberland owners to support economic viability of sustainable forestry
- Protecting and stewarding high biodiversity areas such as riparian forests, old-growth forests, wetlands, and glacial lakes
- Conducting inventories of native natural communities and species to support local land and water use planning
- Identifying opportunities to treat acid mine drainage pollution
- Conducting inventories of freshwater mussel populations
- Water quality monitoring
- Implementing agricultural best management practices
- Stream-bank stabilization projects
- Working with local municipalities to implement dirt and gravel road best management practices
- Facilitating Watershed Conservation Planning to support local conservation initiatives