Western Pennsylvania Conservancy

Western Pennsylvania Conservancy

Conserving Western Pennsylvania's Land

In 2010, the Conservancy protected lands In locations ranging from Tussey Mountain forestland to the Lake Erie shoreline. Each property falls within a priority conservation area, so the permanent conservation of these places advances long-term goals of protecting Western Pennsylvania's most scenic, wildlife-rich and ecologically diverse lands.

Laurel Hill Creek frontage,
Somerset County
Laurel Hill Creek frontage, Somerset County

Acquired more than 2,000 feet of frontage along Laurel Hill Creek, one of the nation's most threatened streams, to protect the creek's water quality, safeguard spectacular views and make the land available for recreation. The 137-acre property in Jefferson Township, Somerset County affords scenic views of Laurel Ridge and Laurel Hill State Park. WPC will convey the property to the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) as an addition to Laurel Hill State Park. It is now open to the public for fishing, hiking and other forms of low-impact recreation.

Lake Erie coastline,
Erie County
Lake Erie coastline, Erie County

Conserved magnificent, undeveloped coastline along Lake Erie to ensure that this property - one of the last remaining undeveloped lakeshore parcels - remains wild, beautiful and a refuge for migratory birds, rare plants and other wildlife. Purchased from a private landowner, this 113-acre tract in Springfield Township, Erie County will become part of the 3,214-acre David M. Roderick Wildlife Reserve/State Game Land 314, which was established by the Conservancy in 1991.

Bear Run Nature Reserve addition,
Fayette County
Bear Run Nature Reserve addition, Fayette County

Made a key addition to the Conservancy owned Bear Run Nature Reserve in the Laurel Highlands by purchasing a 25.5-acre property that was completely surrounded by the reserve. A longtime conservation priority, this land was purchased from a private landowner. Its permanent conservation not only protects the pristine Bear Run watershed, it also secures a beloved scenic viewshed within the nature reserve.

Tussey Mountain wildlife habitat,
Bedford County
Tussey Mountain wildlife habitat, Bedford County

Secured habitat for native birds, mammals and reptiles along Tussey Mountain in Bedford County. Conserved in partnership with private landowners Mike and Laura Jackson, this 113-acre parcel connects to a vast, 9,500-acre forested area, supporting a critical conservation need to protect the state's remaining large, unbroken forests. The land was conserved through a conservation easement, an effective tool that enables landowners to permanently safeguard land while also retaining private ownership and use of the property.

The Conservancy's land protection staff used conservation plans prepared with science staff to target their outreach and parallel their efforts with WPC scientists. For example, the Conservancy developed habitat management plans for private landowners, designed for wildlife protection while also helping property owners meet their own land-use goals. Outreach to more than 217 priority landowners focused on Butler and Venango county properties with critical habitat for the rare and timid eastern massasauga rattlesnake. The Conservancy hopes that landowners will implement these habitat management activities as well as explore permanent conservation options for their properties in the years to come.

In addition, Conservancy staff worked closely with dedicated volunteers throughout 2010 to steward WPC-owned properties. This work included removing invasive plants, repairing trails, marking property boundaries and cleaning up illegal dumps. These efforts helped to keep the properties safe and welcoming to the public and to native wildlife. completion of a hiking trail and log boardwalk at the West Branch of French Creek Conservation Area; initial renovations of the trail system at Bear Run Nature Reserve; and a survey of invasive aquatic plant threats to Lake Pleasant in Erie County.

Influencing Critical Conservation Outcomes

Conservancy scientists worked throughout 2010 to ensure that WPC's conservation efforts focused on the most ecologically important lands and waterways, and maximized benefits to native plants and animals. The careful research of staff botanists, zoologists, ecologists and others advanced WPC's goals and guided our conservation work in French Creek, the Lake Erie coastline, the Laurel Highlands and other priority areas.

The research of WPC scientists also informed critical decision-making about conservation and energy development. For example, staff scientists collaborated with The Nature Conservancy and Audubon Pennsylvania to assess potential impacts from the expansion of Marcellus Shale gas development to sensitive and critical ecosystems across the Commonwealth. This information was provided to key decision-makers in local and state government, private industry and other conservation and environmental organizations to assist in planning and management. They also assisted the state in mapping the high-value conservation areas within state parks that would be sensitive to disturbances, including energy development.

Further, staff scientists worked with staff of the Bureau of State Parks on the development of a statewide Pennsylvania State Parks management plan to integrate state parks management with conservation and recreational goals, and participated on the Governor's Invasive Species Council.


A partial list of plant and animal species whose habitats were conserved or improved through wpc projects in 2010

Yellow-throated vireo, a
Yellow-throated vireo, a "Species of Greatest Conservation Need" whose habitat was further protected by the Conservancy's Erie County land acquisition in 2010.
Photo by Robert Royse
  • Ovenbird
  • Veery
  • Warbling vireo
  • Yellow-throated vireo
  • Hooded warbler
  • Blue-winged warbler
  • American woodcock
  • Great blue heron
  • Bank swallow
  • Peregrine falcon
  • Brown thrasher
  • Mourning warbler
  • Yellow warbler
  • Common yellowthroat
  • Chestnut-sided warbler
  • Adler flycatcher
  • Gray catbird
  • Golden eagle
  • Osprey
  • Bald eagle
  • Willow flycatcher
  • Black rat snake
  • Milk snake
  • Northern water snake
  • Smooth green snake
  • Ring-necked snake
  • Northern brown snake
  • Eastern garter snake
  • Timber rattlesnake
  • Spotted salamander
  • Jefferson salamander
  • Four-toed salamanders
  • Red-spotted newts
  • Eastern hellbender
  • Snapping turtle
  • Midland painted turtle
  • Spotted turtle
  • Box turtle
  • Spring peeper
  • American toad
  • Fowler's toad
  • Gray tree frog
  • Green frog
  • Brook trout
  • Round pigtoe mussel
  • Woodland jumping mouse
  • Northern myotis
  • Bobcat
  • Black bear
  • Small-headed rush
  • Variegated horsetail
  • Appalachian blue violet
  • Creeping bluets
  • Mountain bugbane
  • Purple fringeless orchid
  • Goldenclub