WPC Permanently Protects One of Pennsylvania’s Great Views in Bedford County
Thu, Dec 22nd 2011, 09:45. Filed under News Releases.
Pittsburgh, Pa. – December 22, 2011 – The Western Pennsylvania Conservancy (WPC) today acquired more than 1,600 acres on Evitts Mountain in Bedford County, Pa. to permanently conserve a major expanse of mountainside forest over a key tributary to the Potomac River.
“This property, called Hardwood Trails, is one of the most magnificent properties we have acquired and protected for several years,” said Tom Saunders, president and CEO of the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy. “We’ve protected nine other properties over the past year, but this is one of our most exciting ones. This is a key conservation property, a huge mountainside parcel in Bedford County, and for the first time it creates one large linkage of protected lands from Rocky Gap State Park in Maryland up into Pennsylvania’s Buchanan State Forest.”
The acquisition helps to protect Evitts Creek and the lakes formed by the creek, Lake Koon and Lake Gordon, which are just below it. The lakes supply drinking water for the City of Cumberland, Md. The hillsides above them are important to protect, both for their own conservation values and for the benefit of the drinking water.
WPC will transfer the Hardwood Trails property to the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources’ (DCNR) Bureau of Forestry to become a new addition to Buchanan State Forest. As part of the state forest system, the property will be managed according to the highest standards of forest stewardship and will be permanently open to the public for outdoor recreation.
The property’s remote setting on the forested slopes of Evitts Mountain provides vital habitat for diverse plant and wildlife species. It has rocky outcrops, both gentle and steep slopes, extensive forestland and old logging roads that can be used for hikes into the property. There are also several seasonal pools on the property, which provide uncommon habitat for amphibians and host several rare plants.
Also, because of its large size and location, and its mountain ridge character, the property serves as a breeding ground for a variety of birds and as a stopover site for raptors and songbirds migrating through the Appalachian Mountains. Bedford County is an important place for land protection for the Conservancy. The area is remote and has natural and historic character. It is a part of Pennsylvania’s ridge and valley area, and has a different natural character than places farther west.
“On the ridgetops of Hardwood Trails, you can hike to the steepest parts near the top and look west over as many as four mountain ridges, with farming valleys between each one,” said Michael Knoop, WPC’s land protection specialist. “As you drive from Bedford south toward Maryland on U.S. Route 220, the view you see off to the west will be protected forever.”
There were many key partners to make this land protection effort happen. DCNR’s Community Conservation Partnership Program, the family of B. Kenneth Simon and a bequest from the estate of Helen Katz supported this acquisition. The City of Cumberland, which owns the property that borders Hardwood Trails, was an important partner and provided a right-of-way over their property to allow access to the property.
“It often involves a combination of lots of generous donors and partners to complete ambitious projects like these,” Saunders said. “DCNR was both generous with its funds and very helpful with many technical issues on this acquisition. The Simon family made a generous gift or we would never have been able to get this done, and another individual donor’s bequest helped complete the funding.”
The Western Pennsylvania Conservancy has conserved more than 232,000 acres of natural lands in Western Pennsylvania, more than 3,500 acres of which are in Bedford County.
”The Conservancy has protected quite a number of properties around Bedford County over the years, but never one as large as this 1,600-acre tract,” said Knoop.
Photos have been made available for media use at: http://goo.gl/a7Odw
About the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy:
The Western Pennsylvania Conservancy (WPC) enhances the region’s quality of life by protecting and restoring exceptional places. A private nonprofit conservation organization founded in 1932, WPC has helped to establish ten state parks, conserved more than 232,000 acres of natural lands and protected or restored more than 1,500 miles of rivers and streams. The Conservancy owns and operates Fallingwater, which symbolizes people living in harmony with nature. In addition, WPC enriches our region’s cities and towns through nearly 140 community gardens and greenspaces that are planted with the help of 13,000 volunteers. The work of the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy is accomplished through the support of more than 11,000 members. For more information, visit WaterLandLife.org.
Western Pennsylvania Conservancy