Pittsburgh – Oct. 31, 2017 – The Western Pennsylvania Conservancy announced today the recent acquisition of oil and gas rights under 89 acres of its 107-acre Tryon-Weber Woods Natural Area in Sadsbury Township, Crawford County. The acquisition eliminates any future surface disturbance from oil and gas extraction on this natural area.
Tryon-Weber Woods Natural Area is one of the most ecologically important forested areas in the region. A mature 40-acre beech-sugar maple stand within the natural area, where some trees are around 100 feet tall and at least 90 to 120 years old, is thought to be the last remaining of its kind in Western Pennsylvania and the easternmost stand in the national range for this type of forest.
Protected by the Conservancy in May 1976, the natural area consists primarily of upland forest and a small stream valley with hillsides flecked with trillium, violets, bellwort and wild geranium in the spring. A tributary to the stream enters the area from the east and along the southern border where there is a section of forested wetlands, including vernal pools, which provide temporary habitat seasonally for some of the area’s native plants and animals.
With the prevalence of natural gas development over the past decade in Western Pennsylvania, and the potential of increased drilling in the near future, Tom Saunders, president and CEO of the Conservancy, says it is important for the Conservancy to continue seeking opportunities to further protect properties conserved decades ago.
“We are pleased to be able to obtain these rights to further advance our goals of keeping this rare, old-growth natural area well protected, ensuring that its forest and streams remain intact, undisturbed and pristine,” said Saunders. “This beautiful area is open to the public and a wonderful place for visiting and hiking.”
For years, students from the University of Pittsburgh’s Pymatuning Laboratory of Ecology have been using the natural area for a variety of research projects, including learning about the effects of deer browsing on forest health. In early 2017, the Conservancy purchased 18 acres in front of Tryon-Weber Woods to improve access for visitors and researchers. Also, the 40-acre stand was recently incorporated into the Old-Growth Forest Network, a national organization that recognizes the protection special forest types.
Funds from the estate of Helen B. Katz and the Hamer Foundation were used to acquire the subsurface rights. If visiting this area to see these large and magnificent trees, please be advised that parking is limited and there are no designated trails or directional signage on this property.
Photos have been made available courtesy of the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy:
High-res photo: http://bit.ly/2pruGiB
Photo for web use: http://bit.ly/2oiCsaL
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.