Juniata and Potomac Region
The Juniata and Potomac Region encompasses the Potomac River tributary watersheds of Pennsylvania, the Juniata River basin, and the Nittany Valley. It comprises a large portion of Pennsylvania’s section of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. The region is characterized by long, forested mountain ridges running southwest to northeast interspersed with narrow valleys. Most of the human population in the region is concentrated in the valleys. Several of the valleys that sit on limestone bedrock support rich farmland.
The mountain ridges and valleys of the Juniata and Potomac region are drained by large streams and rivers, many of which support fish populations that are a popular recreational resource for anglers and also support several rare freshwater mussel species. These streams also contribute significantly to the overall quality of the Chesapeake Bay ecosystem.
In this area, special geographic conditions and soils support unique ecological communities known as barrens. The Juniata and Potomac Region, which also encompasses the Nittany Valley, includes several barrens communities that support a variety of rare species. These include Appalachian shale barrens, limestone barrens, and pitch pine-scrub oak barrens.
Most of the forestland in the region is concentrated on the mountain ridges. However, despite residential and agricultural development pressure, good examples of rich low-elevation forests still exist. The importance of low-elevation forests to the overall ecological quality of the region is significant. Besides supporting rich forests and wetlands, low-elevation forests contribute significantly toward maintaining the high quality of the region’s aquatic ecosystems.
Because they are unsuitable for development, the region’s mountain forests have remained relatively intact. A large proportion of the region’s public land exists on mountain ridges. Mountain forests are important bird migration corridors and support populations of rare animal species including the Allegheny woodrat and the timber rattlesnake. Also, imbedded within mountain forests are ridge-top barrens communities that support unique assemblages of rare moths, as well as habitat for neo-tropical birds such as the golden winged warbler.
WPC Conservation Strategy
- Conserving existing high-value forests with innovative and cost-effective land protection tools like conservation easements
- Protecting and stewarding high biodiversity areas such as low-elevation forests, wetlands, and barrens communities
- Conducting inventories of native natural communities and species to support local land and water use planning
- Conducting inventories of freshwater mussel populations
- Water quality monitoring
- Working with private landowners to improve on-lot waste water disposal systems
- 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