Union Township, Pa. – Oct. 16, 2018 – A new 193-acre conservation area is now open to the public in Erie County, the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy announced today. The South Branch French Creek Conservation Area in Union Township offers 1.5 miles of frontage along the South Branch of French Creek and provides access to a stocked trout stream for fishing and outdoor recreation.

One of the Conservancy’s goals with the purchase of this property is to maintain a forested, riparian buffer along French Creek. French Creek is known as the most biologically diverse stream of its size in Pennsylvania or any state in the northeastern United States, making its protection all the more important. Forested buffers along creeks and streams help to regulate water temperature, improve aquatic habitat and overall water quality.

South Branch French Creek Conservation Area in Erie CountyIn addition to important creek frontage, the South Branch French Creek Conservation Area features a diverse mix of habitats including forest, creek frontage, wetlands, vernal pools and former agricultural fields. The extensive forest features hard maple, soft maple, beech, cherry and large, old-growth hemlocks.

Located just 2.5 miles from Union City, the property will be open to the public for hunting, fishing, hiking, bird and wildlife watching and nature study. The Conservancy plans to install signage and more convenient parking in the future.

“French Creek is a spectacular place renowned for its biodiversity. That’s why it continues to be of great conservation importance to the Conservancy. We are thrilled to have the opportunity to protect this property and open it to the public,” said Tom Saunders, president and CEO of the Conservancy.

The Conservancy has protected more than 5,000 acres within the 1,250-square-mile French Creek watershed, starting with the Wattsburg Fen Natural Area, in 1969.

The South Branch French Creek Conservation Area was acquired with funding from the Richard King Mellon Foundation, as well as a family’s gift in memory of their son and brother, Brad Barnes. Barnes, who lived in the area, was dedicated to conservation and to protecting endangered plants and animals. His family has conserved several ecologically significant WPC-protected properties in French Creek in his memory. Funding was also provided through the estate of Helen B. Katz.


Photos of the property are available for media use courtesy of the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy:

About the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy:

The Western Pennsylvania Conservancy (WPC) enhances the region by protecting and restoring exceptional places. A private nonprofit conservation organization founded in 1932, WPC has helped to establish 10 state parks, conserved more than a quarter million acres of natural lands and protected or restored more than 3,000 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 132 community gardens and other green spaces that are planted with the help of about 12,000 volunteers. The work of the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy is accomplished through the support of more than 10,000 members. For more information, visit WaterLandLife.org or Fallingwater.org.

Media Contact:
Kristen Wishon
Communications Specialist