Conservation Joint Venture Protects Valuable French Creek Property

Mon, Oct 26th 2009, 14:00. Filed under News Releases.

Pittsburgh, Pa. – October 26, 2009 – A conservation partnership aimed at working with private landowners, 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 French Creek Joint Venture, a partnership between the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, The Nature Conservancy and the French Creek Valley Conservancy, has been reaching out to French Creek landowners and offering conservation options for land protection over the past year and a half. The Harwood conservation easement is the sixth such project the partnership has completed.

“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.”

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 Nature Conservancy has long considered French Creek, in both Pennsylvania and New York, a priority for conservation. In fact, because of the decline in health of many of our freshwater systems and aquatic species around the world, French Creek was named one of the Last Great Places by The Nature Conservancy,” said Todd Sampsell, director of conservation for The Nature Conservancy. “We are proud to be a partner with the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, French Creek Valley Conservancy and private landowners in protecting French Creek.”

John Tautin, president of the French Creek Valley Conservancy, said, “It’s another great land protection success story; great for the Harwoods, for the partners of the French Creek Conservation Joint Venture, and for all who care about French Creek.”

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.




About the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy
The Western Pennsylvania Conservancy (WPC) enhances the region’s quality of life by protecting and restoring exceptional places. A nonprofit conservation organization founded in 1932, WPC was responsible for the founding of six state parks and has conserved nearly 227,000 acres of natural lands and waterways. The Conservancy owns and operates Fallingwater, the Frank Lloyd Wright house in Mill Run, Pa. that 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 8,300 volunteers. The work of the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy is accomplished through the support of more than 9,400 members. For more information, visit


Media contact:
Stephanie Kraynick
Director of Communications
(412) 586-2358


The Western Pennsylvania Conservancy is a nonprofit, tax-exempt charitable organization under Section 501(c)(3)
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