PITTSBURGH, Pa. – More land for the public to enjoy for birding, fishing, hiking and hunting is now available, thanks to the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy’s purchase of a 140-acre property located along the Clarion River in Heath Township, Jefferson County.
Protection of the land makes it a permanent addition to the Conservancy’s now 630-acre Dutch Hill Forest.
The property has about one-half mile of forested riparian buffer along the Clarion River, 110-mile river spanning Elk, Forest, Jefferson, and Clarion counties. Pennsylvania’s 2019 River of the Year and a federally designated Wild and Scenic River, the Clarion continues to recover from decades of pollution and neglect, thanks, in part, to water restoration and land conservation projects such as this protection. Since the 1970s, the Conservancy has protected nearly 13,000 acres along the river, starting with more than 3,500 acres in the southern section of the Clarion.
The property also provides important connected forest breeding habitat for bird species such as black-throated blue warbler, black-throated green warbler, scarlet tanager and wood thrush. And a portion of the property is located within a natural heritage area that supports a total of nine Pennsylvania species of concern.
“This was one of the few remaining unprotected properties along a 50-mile stretch of the Clarion River, so we’re pleased to protect this forestland for the species that depend on it and outdoor enthusiasts who enjoy this rural and scenic part of our region,” says Tom Saunders, president and CEO of the Conservancy.
“The Conservancy is also pleased to continue its decades-long commitment to the successful recovery of the Clarion River, where on-the-ground watershed restoration efforts and forest protection have played key roles in restoring this important natural resource.”
Dutch Hill Forest offers scenic views of the Clarion, off-trail hiking on unmaintained trails, and steep slopes with extensive thickets of rhododendron and mountain laurel. The Conservancy recommends anyone exploring this preserve should plan ahead, use the “buddy system” and download a property map from the Conservancy’s website prior to visiting. Common residents on the preserve include white-tailed deer, wild turkey, rattlesnakes and black bear.
Conservation of this property was made possible thanks to grants from the Hamer Foundation and PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Bureau of Recreation and Conservation’s Keystone Recreation, Park and Conservation Fund.
For more information about the Conservancy’s watershed or land conservation efforts in the Clarion River watershed, contact its Allegheny Regional Office in Ridgway, at 814-776-1114 or firstname.lastname@example.org.