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      FALL 2007 COMMEMORATIVE ISSUE                                water, land, life

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Conservation in the French Creek Watershed

French Creek is arguably one of the richest streams for aquatic life in Pennsylvania. Certain species of endangered freshwater mussels still exist here that are found few other places in the United States. And since the stream provides a healthy habitat for the species, mussels repay the favor by filtering the water and making it even cleaner.

This nationally significant waterway begins in Chautauqua County, western New York, and flows for 117 miles through the northwestern Pennsylvania counties of Erie, Crawford, Mercer and Venango until it empties into the Allegheny River at Franklin, Pennsylvania.

In 1995, WPC joined with the Pennsylvania Environmental Council and Allegheny College to form the French Creek Project. After a decade of cooperation, the project won national recognition for raising public awareness of French Creek and for engaging watershed communities in preserving the creek. Since then, WPC has dedicated staff and energy to both raise awareness and protect this important waterway. These include:

  • Establishing the Northwest Field Station at Lake Pleasant (Erie Co.) in 2000

  • Completing the French Creek Watershed Assessment and Conservation Plan, a blueprint for environmental education, conservation and restoration of French Creek

  • Publishing two State of the Stream Reports on French Creek in an effort to raise awareness on the overall health of the water and the stream’s many freshwater mussels.
  • Protecting land along the banks of French Creek, and at important natural lakes and wetlands.

1990 WPC protected 2,731 acres in the Laurel Highlands, including three separate parcels totaling 1,036 acres in the Quebec Run Wild Area in southern
Fayette County.

1991 Fallingwater voted “Best All-time Work of American Architecture” by the American Institute of Architects.

WPC acquired USX property in Erie County to create a new 3,131-acre state game lands that will be named the David M. Roderick Wildlife Reserve in honor of the
former USX board chairman.

WPC bought 2,200 acres, including the oil, gas and mineral rights, near the northwest portion of Sproul State Forest.

Western Pennsylvania Conservancy staff and volunteers build a peregrine falcon nesting box atop Pittsburgh’s Gulf Tower. (see photo)

1996 Larry Schweiger named President of the Conservancy. He would begin the Watershed Assistance Program to help grassroots groups protect their sources of water. He would lead the creation of Erie Bluffs State Park.

1997 Fallingwater’s master terrace is discovered to be overstressing the first-floor cantilever, a situation that, if left unaddressed, could lead to collapse. Shoring is installed under the house to prevent further deflections until a design solution can be developed.

1998 WPC purchased 351-acres providing more protection for Tamarack Swamp Natural Area in Clinton County.