"Pennsylvania’s Central Valleys and Ridges"

Message from the President

Thomas D. Saunders

This issue of Conserve focuses on the region of Pennsylvania that we refer to as the Central Valleys and Ridges region, just east of the Laurel Highlands and the Allegheny Front.

The central valleys and ridges region stretches over the southcentral section of the state and features cold, clear streams, mountainous ridges, expansive forests and significant wildlife habitats. Encompassing Pennsylvania’s Potomac River tributaries and the Juniata River basin, this area provides a significant amount of the water that flows into the Chesapeake Bay. It is home to critically threatened species, as well as the largest land protection project done by the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy.

It is an important region in Western Pennsylvania. It is beautiful — a rare pattern of dramatic mountains running southwest to northeast, with valleys, much of them farmland, between the ridges. It is ecologically significant, with large areas still undeveloped and with great potential for conservation accomplishments. That’s why we have devoted this issue of Conserve to the state’s central valleys and ridges and WPC’s conservation efforts and programs there.

We begin this publication with an introduction to State Game Lands 295 — also known as Cherry Run — which is one of the Conservancy’s largest land protection projects in our history. With more than 12,000 acres and five streams, this game land in Centre and Clinton counties provides permanent protection of this immense property for activities such as hunting, fishing and hiking.

This issue of Conserve also addresses a particular habitat protection project being done in the ridge and valley region. The golden-winged warbler, a spring and summer resident of the central valleys and ridges region, is in danger due to habitat loss and hybridization with the closely related blue-winged warbler. WPC is partnering with private landowners, state land managers and academic researchers to promote conservation practices that will lead to the species’ recovery, and working on permanent land protection acquisitions that will help protect this species.

This publication will also explore how the Conservancy has improved water quality in watersheds such as Sideling Hill Creek, Yellow Creek and the Chesapeake Bay in this region, by partnering with local conservation groups and by helping farmers and landowners implement conservation practices that reduce stream pollution.

The region’s seven WPC community gardens are a testament to what can be accomplished by dedicated and hardworking volunteers. This issue will showcase gardens in Hollidaysburg, Tyrone, Altoona, Huntingdon and State College, all of which serve as welcoming gateways to these communities.

I hope this issue will give readers a full picture of this unique region and of the Conservancy’s role in preserving its forested mountain ridges and picturesque rural valleys.

Thomas D. Saunders
Thomas Saunders
President and CEO

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