Great Lakes

Pennsylvania’s portion of the Great Lakes ecoregion begins with its 45-mile stretch of shoreline along Lake Erie. Many streams drain from adjacent Erie and Crawford counties, the Central Lowlands Province, into the lake. Lake Erie moderates the area’s climate, which allows for the production of specialty agriculture such as vineyards, which are found nowhere else in our region. This area is located within the larger St. Lawrence River Basin.

The Great Lakes-Lake Erie Shoreline and Conneaut Creek region encompasses the western portion of Pennsylvania’s Lake Erie coastline from Presque Isle and Bay west to the Ohio border. This region includes the watersheds of the many tributaries to the lake. Two WPC focus areas are the Lake Erie front and Conneaut Creek. Conservation targets include forests, bluff face seepages, marshes, swamps, beaches, oak savannah and sandplains.

The native biodiversity of the Lake Erie front is greatly threatened by habitat loss due to development. Specific threats include fragmentation of undeveloped areas along the coast, invasive plant and animal species, and poor management of forests and farmlands in the region. The Conneaut Creek drainage region includes expanses of forests and swamps, and a host of aquatic species.

The 3,131-acre David M. Roderick Wildlife Reserve (State Game Lands 314), purchased by WPC in 1991, is part of a 5,000-acre tract of land spanning the Pennsylvania and Ohio borders and is managed by the PA Game Commission. In 2004, WPC purchased the 540-acre Coho tract and turned this land over to DCNR, establishing Erie Bluffs State Park.

Key Features

  • Lake Erie shoreline includes high sand and clay soil bluffs with remnant forests and unique wetland types
  • Presque Isle peninsula and bay are unusual Lake Erie features and harbor rare habitats and species
  • Northward-flowing lake tributaries are aquatic ecosystems unlike those elsewhere in the state, and Conneaut Creek is the most significant (lowest reach and mouth in Ohio)

Conservation Targets

  • Important ecosystems: bluff face seepages, marshes, swamps, beaches and sandplains
  • Five occurrences of globally ranked plants and vertebrates, including the eastern sand darter and lake sturgeon
  • Three Biological Diversity Areas totaling 22,000 acres, harboring species and ecosystems described above
  • Eight regionally significant forest patches, totaling 6,500 acres
  • One focus watershed (Conneaut Creek) including a 65-mile aquatic ecosystem that is the most important tributary to Lake Erie in Pennsylvania


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