Turkeyfoot Township, Pa. – June 22 – The Western Pennsylvania Conservancy announced today the protection of approximately 48 acres along the Casselman River in Upper Turkeyfoot Township, Somerset County. The property will protect the forested views along one of the Laurel Highlands’ recreational and tourist attractions: the Great Allegheny Passage (GAP) Trail.
The protection of this property is part of ongoing efforts by the Conservancy and its partners to help identify priority areas for land conservation along 66 miles of the GAP. The 48 acres are located near land already conserved by WPC along the Casselman River. This acquisition will be added to the 97-acre Casselman River Conservation Area, which supports the protection of forests and wildlife habitats, and preserves hillside and scenic views along this river corridor and the GAP. It is also home to the Josh Whetzel Jr. Memorial Recreation Area.
The Conservancy has an established history in and commitment to protecting land in the Laurel Highlands, with nearly 83,000 acres conserved since 1951. Keeping forestlands intact and watersheds healthy are important for the local economy’s tourism industry, which attracts millions of visitors and outdoors enthusiasts to the area each year.
“This property is directly across the river from the Great Allegheny Passage and protects a wonderful view from the trail. The Conservancy will continue to work with regional partners to seek opportunities to permanently protect the scenic views along the trail,” said Tom Saunders, president and chief executive officer of the Conservancy. “The Laurel Highlands is one of the most special places in Western Pennsylvania, and we are hoping to help keep it that way.”
In addition to its scenic and recreational value along the GAP for thousands of bikers, walkers and runners, the property includes a dense forest and wetlands with three-quarters of a mile of river frontage along the Casselman River. This section of the river’s floodplain hosts several rare plant species, and the forests and wetlands play an important role in filtering and storing water, while also providing important habitat for wildlife. Some areas along the river right-of-way have experienced forest fragmentation, protecting the area keeps the forest intact and improves habitat.
Kayakers and canoeists can also view and experience the property’s forest and wildlife using the six-mile-long Casselman River Water Trail. An access ramp for the water trail is located near the property and was constructed by the Casselman River Watershed Association with funding by the Conservancy’s Canoe Access Development Fund.
The family of B. Kenneth Simon was the lead funder for this project, with additional support provided by the Katherine Mabis McKenna Foundation. Public funding may also support purchase costs.
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 252,000 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 130 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 nearly 10,000 members. For more information, visit WaterLandLife.org.