In addition to producing some of the most valuable timber in the world, Pennsylvania’s 2.1 million acres of state forests provide clean water, recreational opportunities, habitat for wildlife, and places to enjoy the tranquility of nature.
State forests are Pennsylvania’s hidden recreational gems. With more than 2,500 miles of trails, outdoor enthusiasts find endless opportunities for hiking, cross-country skiing, mountain biking, horseback riding, snowmobiling and ATV riding. Many of the best hunting grounds, finest fishing streams and grandest views in the state are found throughout the state forests. Most state forests also have one or two picnic areas equipped with tables, fireplaces, potable water, and parking.
Flora, fauna and special areas
State forests play an important role in maintaining natural biological diversity and protecting special plant and animal species. Many of these special plant and animal communities are protected in 61 natural areas throughout the state forest system. These natural areas are managed with little or no human intervention, allowing nature to take its course. Sixteen wild areas also are managed to retain the vast undeveloped character of the area and to allow for public recreation.
Insect and fire control
Forestry personnel work beyond the boundaries of the state forests to control insects, diseases and fires on the 17 million acres of Pennsylvania’s woodlands. Forestry personnel and volunteers staff 50 forest fire observation towers throughout the state during periods of high fire danger.
The Bureau of Forestry maintains a tree nursery that has an annual production of nearly one million tree seedlings, which are sold to Pennsylvanians for the reforestation of their lands.
Pennsylvania’s state forests contain some of the world’s most valuable timber. The sale of timber products from state forests returns money to the Commonwealth and provides a stable resource base for the forest products industry. All Pennsylvania state forests are certified by a third party as “well-managed.” The timber cut from Pennsylvania’s state forests can be marketed with a “green label,” which ensures the end consumer they are purchasing wood that has been cut from a forest that is managed in an environmentally sensitive manner.
To ensure our forests continue to provide these benefits, the state forest system is divided into 20 forest districts, each with a district office, led by a district forester. Each forest district protects the state forest land from fire, destructive insects and disease, while managing timber, habitat, water and visitors’ recreational needs. District staff also provides professional forestry leadership and technical assistance to the state’s one-half million private forest landowners.