The Upper Allegheny River
The Upper Allegheny Region of northwestern Pennsylvania and southwestern New York begins at the headwaters of the Allegheny River east of Coudersport, Pennsylvania and extends north to Lake Chatauqua in New York and south to Brady's Bend in Pennsylvania. This region includes a mix of glaciated and non-glaciated landscapes that support among the most diverse, productive, and scenic forests, rivers and streams in the eastern United States.
Rare Land and Aquatic Species
At the center of this landscape is the federally designated Wild and Scenic Allegheny River and its important tributaries such as French Creek, Tionesta Creek and the Clarion River. The aquatic and riparian resources of the Upper Allegheny Region are outstanding and include floodplain forests, globally significant freshwater mussel communities, rich and productive cold and warm-water fisheries, and unique creatures such as the eastern hellbender, the largest salamander in North America. French Creek alone is considered to be one of the most biologically diverse medium-sized rivers in the northeastern United States. Glaciated portions of the region contain natural glacial lakes, rare in Pennsylvania, which support rare aquatic plant communities, and wetlands such as fens and bogs that are home to rare plants, dragonflies, and amphibians and reptiles such as the eastern massasauga rattlesnake, a Pennsylvania endangered species.
Pennsylvania’s Only National Forest
The Upper Allegheny Region is heavily forested and includes 500,000 acres of the Allegheny National Forest, Pennsylvania’s only national forest. The region is globally renowned for its valuable Allegheny hardwood forest, dominated by black cherry. Ninety-percent of the merchantable black cherry in the world comes from Upper Allegheny forests. Other major forest types in the region include mixed oak forests, northern hardwood forest, mesophytic forest of sugar maple, white ash and basswood, and eastern hemlock forests. Within the Allegheny National Forest is the Tionesta Research Natural Area and Scenic Area, comprising 4,000 acres, the largest expanse of old-growth forest in the eastern United States between the Adirondack and Great Smoky mountains.
Protection & Restoration
WPC has protected nearly 20,000 acres of islands, shorelines and valleys along the Allegheny River. Most of the land has been conveyed to state and federal public land managers. WPC continues to hold 242 acres including two islands and one floodplain forest. WPC also holds 11,305 acres of conservation and recreation easements, some in Venango County. Within the Allegheny River watershed, WPC has targeted 550 miles of major river and tributary ecosystems for conservation, along with 84 occurrences of globally ranked (imperiled globally) plants, invertebrates, vertebrates and aquatic communities; three biological diversity areas which have highly significant habitats, including island groups; and nine forest blocks that adjoin river riparian zones. Together with its partners, WPC hopes to protect and restore the Allegheny River so that present and future generations continue to enjoy this natural treasure.