Pittsburgh, Pa. March 28, 2024 – The Western Pennsylvania Conservancy announced today the donation of a conservation easement from The Conservation Fund on more than 19,800 acres of forestland along the Clarion River in Elk County and Kinzua Creek in McKean County.

This conservation project, called the Clarion Junction Conservation Easement, provides long-term protection of forested lands in Elk and McKean counties, while keeping them in private ownership and allowing public access. These lands include sweeping ridges and scenic hardwood forests of red and sugar maple, black cherry, yellow and black birch, red oak and eastern hemlock. There are forested riparian areas along the West Branch Clarion River, East Branch Clarion River, the main branch of the Clarion River, and many high-quality tributaries that support wild trout.

Donated Conservation Easement in Elk County Protects the Headwaters of Johnson RunThe easement protects the conservation values of property that is surrounded by and also an important connection between state forest lands, state game lands and the Allegheny National Forest. Along with the nearby public lands­­, these lands offer residents and visitors opportunities for fishing, hiking, hunting and wildlife watching in this natural and picturesque PA Wilds region that attracts thousands of tourists annually.

The Conservancy’s conservation easement will provide public access to this privately owned working forest, while restricting future development and ensuring the property’s conservation values are protected in perpetuity. The easement permits the continuation of sustainable forestry operations on the property. This forest provides a steady source of wood for the local forest product industry, including a papermill in downtown Johnsonburg. The Conservancy’s stewardship staff will be responsible for monitoring the property ensuring it remains in accordance with the easement provisions.

Protecting large acreage and providing connectivity to other nearby, large protected public lands is important for wildlife species’ survival, says Conservancy President and CEO Thomas Saunders.

“We appreciate The Conservation Fund’s donation of this important conservation easement that further protects open space and this large working forest, beautiful natural area and important habitat,” says Saunders. “We are glad to steward these streamside forestlands to ensure they remain thriving ecosystems for generations to come,” he adds.

Matt Marusiak, the Conservancy’s land protection manager in its Allegheny Regional Office in Ridgway, is very familiar with this forest. He lives and works near the lands in Elk County, and has frequently fished the local mountain streams.

“This forestland has long been managed well and provides great opportunities for hunting, fishing and hiking. The Conservancy’s role will ensure this community treasure will continue being open for public recreation and contributing to the local economy and quality of life,” says Marusiak.

Since the 1970s, the Conservancy has permanently protected thousands of acres of land across the region through conservation easements. For more information about conservation options to protect land, please contact the Conservancy at 412-288-2777 or land@paconserve.org.


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 establish 11 state parks, conserved more than 285,000 acres of natural lands, protected or restored more than 3,000 miles of rivers and streams, and assessed thousands of wildlife species and their habitats. The Conservancy owns and operates Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater, which is on the UNESCO World Heritage List and 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 and thousands of trees that are planted with the help of more than 7,000 volunteers. The work of the Conservancy is accomplished through the support of more than 10,000 members. For more information, visit WaterLandLife.org or Fallingwater.org.

Media Contact:
Carmen Bray
Senior Director of Communications
412-586-2358, work