WPC Protects Valuable French Creek Property

Jim and Pat Harwood of Harwood Farms, Inc.

Jim and Pat Harwood of Harwood Farms, Inc.

The Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, as a member of the French Creek Joint Venture, has permanently conserved nearly two miles of land along the globally significant French Creek through a voluntary conservation easement.

A conservation easement is a voluntary legal agreement that limits future development while keeping land in private hands.

The conserved property, which consists of 143 acres at the confluence of the West Branch and main stem of French Creek in Venango Township, Erie County, is owned by Jim and Pat Harwood of Harwood Farms, Inc. Conservation of this property will help to restore and maintain floodplain forests as well as protect French Creek, which contains rare and endangered freshwater mussels, fish and other aquatic species.

“The Western Pennsylvania Conservancy is pleased to be able to protect this property in partnership with the Harwoods. Recording a conservation easement on this property will allow the Harwoods to continue to own, farm and enjoy this creekfront property but also protect it from development permanently,” said Tom Saunders, president and CEO of the Conservancy. “This brings the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy's protected acreage in the French Creek watershed to 3,528 acres.”

The French Creek Joint Venture is a partnership of the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, The Nature Conservancy and the French Creek Valley Conservancy. WPC purchased the conservation easement on the Harwoods’ property with federal funding from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Landowner Incentive Program (LIP), and with matching funds from The Nature Conservancy.

The newly conserved land adds to a larger watershed conservation area along the West Branch of French Creek that includes the 244-acre Lowville Fen, a WPC-owned property, as well as four private properties totaling 303 acres that have been permanently protected by the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy through easements.