The Foundation for Sustainable Forests recently conserved 436 acres of working woodlands in Warren County’s Southwest and Eldred townships. The conserved lands are comprised of three parcels within the Caldwell Creek watershed, a priority area of conservation for FSF.
In 2017, the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources’ Community Conservation Partnerships Program awarded the FSF a grant of $725,000 to protect open space in the region. The grant, which is supported by the Keystone Fund, supported the purchase of the 292-acre Stony Hollow tract, which includes Stony Hollow Run and frontage on Caldwell Creek, a natural reproduction trout stream with a public access fly-fishing corridor. The successful acquisition of Stony Hollow last month connects over 1,000 acres of conserved forestland surrounding a section of Caldwell Creek’s catch-and-release fly fishing corridor. In addition to grant funds, the purchase of Stony Hollow was made possible by a bridge loan from the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy’s Colcom Revolving Fund for Local Land Trusts.
In support of the project, a donation of 150 acres of woodland and the timber rights on an additional 100 acres were made by FSF president and founder Troy Firth, who was recently awarded a Western Pennsylvania Environmental Award by the Pennsylvania Environmental Council and Dominion Energy, and the Lifetime Conservation Leadership Award by the Pennsylvania Land Trust Association. These parcels are also located within the Caldwell Creek watershed, and will also be managed in perpetuity as sustainable working woodlands using the FSF’s unique management approach.
All lands protected by the Foundation are managed for present and future ecosystem health and habitat diversity as sustainable working forests, which also supports the rural economy in northwestern Pennsylvania. As of this month, a horse-logging crew has begun a light “worst-first” thinning in a section of the Stony Hollow property, removing poorly developing or diseased trees of mixed species to promote healthy regeneration in the understory.
This achievement significantly furthers the Foundation’s mission to protect forested land in the region while still supporting the rural economy through working forests. All properties involved in this project will remain on the tax rolls and are open to the public for hiking, bird watching, fly-fishing where applicable and other non-destructive uses. FSF will work with the surrounding community to facilitate ways for the public to enjoy these properties through activities such as educational walks and nature hikes. A dedication of the Stony Hollow property is planned for later this summer.