WPC Protects Family Land along the West Branch of French Creek

Mon, Apr 2nd 2012, 08:40. Filed under News Releases.

Pittsburgh, Pa. – April 2, 2012 – A 77-acre Erie County property that includes more than 2,700 feet of frontage on the West Branch of French Creek was permanently conserved today by the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy (WPC).

“This important and scenic property in the French Creek watershed will be permanently protected from development,” said Conservancy President and CEO Thomas Saunders. “The property will be protected in perpetuity, adding to the over 3,700 acres the Conservancy has already protected within this significant watershed.”

WPC worked with the property’s owner, Suzanne Bowen, to protect the land through the creation of a life estate. The Conservancy purchased the property but Mrs. Bowen will continue to live on and use it for her lifetime.

Life estate arrangements provide landowners the advantage of continuing to enjoy their land while having the assurance that the organization of their choice has accepted the land for permanent protection. When WPC has full ownership of the property, it will be maintained and managed as a natural area.

"My mother has always cherished the natural beauty and serenity of the farm,” said Doug Bowen, Mrs. Bowen’s son. “She is pleased to be able to preserve the land in its natural state for future generations to appreciate and enjoy, as she has, for years to come."

The land includes forest consisting of black cherry, oak, sugar maple, silver maple, eastern hemlock and American elm trees, which act as a natural filter protecting French Creek from pollution and supporting habitat for aquatic life.

Funding for the purchase of this property was provided by family members in memory of Bradford Barnes combined with funds from a generous bequest from Helen Katz. This protection will help restore and maintain the French Creek watershed.

French Creek has the highest documented aquatic biodiversity of any stream of its size in Pennsylvania and all states to the northeast. It includes species of federally endangered freshwater mussels, 26 total mussel species and numerous fish species of greatest conservation need in Pennsylvania. This acquisition would protect bottomland and floodplain forest, as well as maintain a forested buffer along French Creek.

“Many landowners feel a strong connection to their land and are fortunate to be in a position to make decisions now that will impact future generations,” said Ann Sand, WPC’s land protection specialist. “The Conservancy is actively working in the French Creek watershed to offer conservation options to landowners who are interested in working to protect the important natural features of their properties.”

A photo has been made available for media use at: http://goo.gl/fzZHL.


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 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. WPC is accredited by the Land Trust Accreditation Commission. For more information, visit WaterLandLife.org.

Media contact:
Eric Sloss
Western Pennsylvania Conservancy
(412) 586-2358


The Western Pennsylvania Conservancy is a nonprofit, tax-exempt charitable organization under Section 501(c)(3)
of the Internal Revenue Code, and 100% of your donation is tax-deductable as allowed by law.