On April 19, the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy (WPC) announced the protection and addition of 18 acres of land in Sadsbury Township, Crawford County, to one of the most ecologically important forested areas in the region.
These acres along Grieser Road are now part of the Conservancy’s Tryon-Weber Woods Natural Area, which is a remote 108-acre reserve that is open to the public for nature walking, exploring, and hunting. Students from the University of Pittsburgh’s Pymatuning Laboratory of Ecology have been using the natural area for years for a variety of research projects, including learning about the effects of deer browsing on forest health.
“We are pleased to be able to add property to this protected forest reserve,” said Tom Saunders, president and CEO of WPC. “It has impressive stands of mature beech-sugar maple maple forest and is a wonderful place for visiting and hiking.”
Protected in May 1976, the natural area consists primarily of upland forest and a small stream valley with hillsides flecked with trillium, violets, bellwort, and wild geranium in spring. A tributary to the stream enters from the east and along the southern border where there is an area of forested wetlands, including vernal pools that provide temporary habitat for some unique plants and animals.
The area also contains a 40-acre stand of old-growth American beech-sugar maple forest, thought to be the last remaining mature stand of beech-sugar maple in western Pennsylvania and the easternmost stand in the national range. Accordingly, these woods were recently incorporated into the national Old-Growth Forest Network, which recognizes the locations of and organizations from across the country that protect these special forest types. Some of the trees in this forest are around 100 feet tall and at least 90 to 120 years old. Visiting this area to see these large and magnificent trees is worthwhile, as indicated in the book Great Natural Areas in Western Pennsylvania by Stephen J. Ostrander. Be advised that there is limited parking, and no designated trails.
Funds from the estate of Helen B. Katz were used to purchase this property. In 2008, the Conservancy received her bequest that remains the largest contribution to date from an individual to WPC.