Building a conservation blueprint for Pennsylvania

Key Features

• Medium gradient streams of the Potomac drainage host aquatic species not found elsewhere

• Long forested mountain ridges; forests include oak-hickory-hard pine communities

• Aspects of regional geology and soils (shale, etc.) support important endemic habitats

Conservation Targets

• Seven Biological Diversity Areas, totaling 28,000 acres of important habitats

• 33 occurrences of globally rare plants, invertebrates and vertebrates including harperella and Allegheny stonecrop

• 17 occurrences of important natural communities, including shale barrens

• Seven forest blocks totaling 154,300 acres

• 151 miles of the best representative stream ecosystems


Pennsylvania and Maryland chapters of The Nature Conservancy
Ridge and Valley Streamkeepers

View a map of the conservation priority areas.



Potomac Tributaries

South central Pennsylvania is composed of mountains of the Ridge and Valley Province (named for the parallel ridges and valleys of the Appalachian Mountains, which create an alternating pattern) and intermountain tributary watersheds of the Potomac River. This rugged and rural landscape includes the “shale country” and is based on unique geology and soils. Additional biodiversity significance is found downstream in Maryland, and this region is within the watershed of the Chesapeake Bay.

Since 1999, Western Pennsylvania Conservancy dedicated a full-time staff member to oversee conservation activities in Pennsylvania’s Potomac tributaries. WPC identified several streams in Bedford and Fulton counties that displayed significant quality and biodiversity. Sideling Hill Creek, which flows through the southern reaches of Bedford and Fulton counties is home to important ecosystem features including shale barrens, rare freshwater mussel species, and a freshwater sponge.

Farther west, Town Creek is another stream system identified as a key target for restoration strategies. Forests cover a large percentage of the surrounding ridge and valley landscape and key to protecting these watersheds.

View the next conservation priority area: Laurel Highlands








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