"Northern Woods"

A Message from the President

Thomas D. Saunders

The Western Pennsylvania Conservancy has played a critical role in protecting land, and protecting and restoring rivers and streams, in the state’s Northern Woods, a region that contains some of the largest expanses of forestland in the eastern United States. WPC has conserved about 100,000 acres in this vast forested region over the last 45 years, including one of the Conservancy’s largest projects – the 12,000-acre Cherry Run property. Our involvement in the region continues to this day; one of our most recent acquisitions was a key property along the Clarion River, and we have an office in the town of Ridgway with both land conservation and watershed protection staff.

Often called the Pennsylvania Wilds, the region has been an area of interest for the Conservancy for decades. WPC considers the Northern Woods to stretch from Warren and Venango counties in the west to Lycoming and Tioga counties in the east. The Conservancy has had many different large-scale projects around the region, ranging from protection of thousands of acres of Allegheny River shoreline and islands starting in 1970, to the Cherry Run acquisition in Centre and Clinton Counties.

And the region is still rich with conservation opportunities. The Conservancy works to protect large, unfragmented expanses of forestland, as well as many miles of ecologically important rivers and streams over the next decade.

This issue of Conserve outlines WPC’s current, past and present projects in the Northern Woods. The Conservancy protects and restores exceptional places in many areas of the Northern Woods through our range of projects and programs.

WPC scientists are in the midst of a comprehensive monitoring of the abundance and diversity of forest interior dwelling birds across the Commonwealth. Considering the Northern Woods’ large tracts of forestland, it is significantly represented in the project’s 25 monitoring sites.

This issue of Conserve will address the Conservancy’s role in ongoing efforts to address problems associated with abandoned mine land and restore watersheds. This region has a rich industrial past that included coal mining, the remnants of which affect rivers and streams through abandoned mine drainage.

A conversation about improving water quality in the Northern Woods would not be complete without an acknowledgement of the role of the late Dr. Colson “Doc” Blakeslee. As this issue will detail, the former member of the Conservancy’s board of directors was a champion for the remediation of the Bennett Branch of Sinnemahoning Creek.

Western Pennsylvania is an extraordinary region, and the Northern Woods, north and northeast of Pittsburgh, with its extensive forests, network of streams and abundant wildlife, are among the places that make it extraordinary.

Thomas D. Saunders
Thomas Saunders
President and CEO