Pittsburgh – Nov. 30, 2017 – An 84-acre natural area has been protected in Addison Township, Somerset County, and is now open to the public for hiking, fishing and nature watching along Whites Creek, the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy announced today.

The Whites Creek Valley Natural Area was donated to the Conservancy by Paul McMillan, Jr., a retired botanist. It was important to McMillan to protect the forested property, consisting of mixed deciduous species and eastern hemlock trees, from future development.

“The mature forest has been untouched for more than 100 years,” said McMillan, who now resides in Arizona. “It gives me pleasure knowing that it will continue to be cared for under the Conservancy’s ownership and managed as a natural area open to the public to enjoy.”

The protection of this land helps to maintain the quality of Whites Creek, classified by the PA Department of Environmental Protection as a “High Quality Cold Water Fishery” stream. A tributary to the Casselman River, Whites Creek is a popular natural trout-producing stream that is stocked by the PA Fish and Boat Commission.

The property is located within the Pennsylvania Audubon Society’s Winding Ridge Forest Block Important Bird Area. This area contains habitat for a variety of birds, including forest interior birds, riparian birds and Neotropical migrants, such as Louisiana waterthrush, wood thrush and scarlet tanager, which are dependent on healthy forests.

Now owned and managed by the Conservancy, Whites Creek Valley Natural Area also supports mountain laurel, rhododendrons and number of rare wildflowers. A small parking lot is available on the southern portion of the property off of Whites Creek Road. You can find directions to the property using Google Maps or view a map of the property and other nearby natural areas.

McMillan inherited the property in 1997 from his mother, who first purchased the land in the 1930s. An abandoned railroad bisects the property, originally owned by Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, which supported local lumber and coal mining activities.

“We greatly appreciate Mr. McMillan’s foresight in his donation of Whites Creek Valley Natural Area,” said Thomas D. Saunders, president and CEO of the Conservancy. “This is another wonderful addition of protected lands available for public recreation in the Laurel Highlands in Somerset County.”

The Conservancy welcomes inquiries from landowners interested in learning more about conservation options for their land, including donations of property or conservation easements. Landowners can often obtain charitable income tax deductions and other tax benefits. For more information, please contact WPC at 412-288-2777 or info@paconserve.org.


Photos and a map have been made available courtesy of the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy:

High-res photo: http://bit.ly/2zj137L
Photo for web use: http://bit.ly/2m0esfU
Map: http://bit.ly/2ApAKgV

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 Blevins
Communications Specialist
412-586-2328 (office)