Cambridge Springs, Pa. – Dec. 18 – The Western Pennsylvania Conservancy has permanently protected 66 acres in Rockdale Township, Crawford County, the Conservancy announced today.

Located downstream from another WPC-protected property, this property has approximately 1,600 feet of creek frontage along French Creek, one of the most ecologically significant waterways in the northeastern United States.

“The conservation of this land will help to protect French Creek, its water quality and aquatic life, and forestland along the creek,” said Thomas Saunders, WPC president and chief executive officer.

The property includes a wetland and a forested, riparian buffer along the creek. Forested, riparian corridors help to regulate the temperature of streams and create conditions that contribute to improved water quality and habitat for the federally endangered and threatened freshwater mussels and numerous fish species of special conservation concern in Pennsylvania that live in the watershed.

WPC purchased the land from the Niknar Sportsmen’s Club, which has owned the property since the 1950s. This property will be managed as a natural area and be open to the public for low-impact recreation, such as hunting, hiking and wildlife watching.

“The mission of the Niknar Sportsmen’s Club was to promote, foster and protect wildlife and natural resources, and encourage participation in recreational activities and sports,” said George Varzaly, president of Niknar Sportsmen’s Club, who now lives in Georgia. “Thanks to the Conservancy, we are able to uphold the original charter of the organization and keep the land natural forever.”

The acquisition was made possible through one family’s generous financial contribution 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 properties in northwestern Pennsylvania with WPC in his memory. Funds from the estate of Helen B. Katz also contributed to this acquisition.


Photos have been made available for media at: and Photos courtesy of the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy.

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 236,000 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 130 community gardens and other green spaces that are planted with the help of about 12,500 volunteers. The work of the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy is accomplished through the support of nearly 10,000 members. For more information, visit

Media Contact:
Kristen Blevins
Communications Assistant
412-586-2328 (office)