The Natural Heritage Program and Conservation Science staffs at Western Pennsylvania Conservancy work across departments on various projects. Often, these projects involve a long-term strategy for protection and stewardship and represent significant programmatic priorities at WPC. These projects are singled out for that reason:
Land use changes over the past 40 years have greatly reduced the amount of young forest habitat available to Golden-winged Warblers, resulting in steep population declines. WPC is working with conservation partners to implement new strategies for protecting and managing young forests for Golden-winged Warblers on public and private lands in Pennsylvania.
Rivers and larger streams such as the Allegheny and Ohio Rivers are under public ownership and are managed by local, state and federal government agencies. Therefore, the approach to conservation of these resources is unique for land trust organizations that typically rely on acquiring properties or establishing conservation easements.
Through scientific research, the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy has identified the eastern massasauga (Sistrurus catenatus catenatus) rattlesnake—a critically imperiled state endangered species and a threatened species at the federal level—as a priority species for WPC’s conservation efforts. WPC staff are doing some of the most thorough research to date on this relatively timid and reclusive reptile.
Once critically endangered worldwide, the peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus) has made a remarkable recovery, thanks to increased conservation efforts over the last few decades. The Western Pennsylvania Conservancy initiated the Peregrine Recovery Program in Pittsburgh in 1990 in response to sightings of adult peregrine falcons downtown. WPC managed the program until 2007, when it was transferred to the National Aviary.