The Pennsylvania Bureau of Forestry, in the state's Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, manages 2.2 million acres of woodland, 13 percent of all forested lands in the Keystone State. The Bureau brings in around $25 million each year from harvesting timber on approximately 14,000 acres. That income helps fund the Bureau’s operating costs, with 10 percent of those dollars channeled into forest-regeneration projects.
New Addition to State Forest System Features Young Forest
A significant young forest restoration project continues to expand on the 25,000-acre Clermont Tract in northern Pennsylvania’s McKean County. With guidance from the Wildlife Management Institute and funding from the Wildlife For Everyone Endowment Foundation, conservationists planted 12,400 seedlings in 2015, the project's sixth year. The planting is part of an ongoing effort to improve wildlife habitat and to monitor wildlife populations, including the American woodcock and other young forest species.
Refreshing a Habitat Management Area and a Woodcock Trail
In the 1930s, a wave of farm abandonment swept through the northeastern United States. In central Pennsylvania’s Stone Valley, in Huntingdon County, many farmers gave up on tilling the shaley soil and moved away, their lands purchased by the U.S. Resettlement Administration. Shrubs and small trees filled in the tired eroded fields, which soon began producing bumper crops – not of corn and oats, but rather of woodcock, ruffed grouse, deer, and songbirds like brown thrashers and indigo buntings.
What happens when a bunch of landowners decide to help the American woodcock, a bird whose numbers have fallen as its young-forest habitat has dwindled? Add a local conservation group and a university-based watershed center, and good things can happen fast. In central Pennsylvania, this sort of team approach may provide a blueprint for similar projects throughout the East.
State Game Lands 107 takes in around 8,000 acres in central Pennsylvania. Most of the tract is upland forest, but part of it, on the northern flank of Shade Mountain, extends down to a lower elevation and includes stream-bottom land along Jacks Creek.
Pittsburgh-based CONSOL Energy is the leading diversified energy producer in the Appalachian Basin. The company, which both mines coal and extracts natural gas, is committed to restoring depleted mine areas and managing active energy-producing sites to benefit wildlife. Over the years, CONSOL has formed cooperative partnerships with local and national conservation organizations and state wildlife agencies to achieve its environmental goals.
On this 1,863-acre state-owned tract in western Maryland, conservationists have launched a project aimed at managing approximately 400 acres to benefit woodcock, ruffed grouse, alder flycatchers, golden-winged warblers, and other young-forest wildlife. The WMA centers on Millers Run in the Youghiogheny River watershed in the Allegheny Mountains. Divided into eight management units, the WMA includes old fields, alder wetlands, aspen stands, hardwood forest of varying ages, dry-land shrub habitats, and spring seeps.
Until 2000, this 3,764-acre property in southeastern Ohio belonged to a coal-mining company. Today Ales Run Wildlife Area (WA) is owned and managed by the Ohio Division of Wildlife.
Nearly 60 percent of the parcel was strip-mined prior to modern mine-reclamation laws. The resulting rugged terrain includes many highwalls and spoil banks. Brush and small trees have begun growing back on the thin, acidic soil in the mined areas. The remaining 40 percent of the tract was not mined and today is a mix of forest and brushland.
Wolf Creek Wildlife Area (WA) covers 3,911 acres and is owned and managed by the Ohio Division of Wildlife. It lies east of Wayne National Forest in the rolling hill country of southeastern Ohio. Although much of the tract was once used for farming and pasturing livestock, today the WA is managed mainly for forest wildlife. The area has woods, brushlands, grassy openings, streams, and manmade ponds.
The Ohio Division of Wildlife manages 1,112-acre Ross Lake Wildlife Area (WA) in the Scioto River drainage in southeastern Ohio. The land is rolling, with steep slopes and flat-topped hills. Major habitats are old fields, brushy areas, pole-stage forest, and mature woodland. Oak, hickory, beech, and sugar maple grow on upland sites. At lower elevations and in stream bottoms, elm, ash, and maple are common. Native shrubs include hawthorn, wild crabapple, sumac, and blackberry.
This federal wildlife refuge lies 60 miles northwest of New York City in northern Sussex County, New Jersey, and southern Orange County, New York. Created in 1990, the refuge includes 9 miles of the Wallkill River and more than 5,100 acres of diverse habitats including headwater wetlands, scrub-shrub wetlands, wooded swamps, open-water impoundments, calcareous fens, bottomland forests, upland forests, grasslands, and farmlands.
This property consists of 370 acres of old farmland in the Canaan Valley, Tucker County, northeastern West Virginia. The Canaan Valley encompasses about 40 square miles. It is a popular area for hiking, skiing, hunting, and wildlife viewing.
The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries manages this area at the north end of Lake Moomaw, a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers flood control project in western Virginia. The WMA is in Bath County and borders West Virginia to the west. Most of Gathright’s 13,428 acres are mountainous and forested, with oaks and hickories the main tree species. Deer, wild turkeys, squirrels, and ruffed grouse live on the WMA, as do many forest-interior songbirds.
This 505-acre tract in Allegany County, western Maryland, was a commercial orchard before being acquired by the Green Ridge State Forest in the late 1970s. Since then, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources has managed portions of the area to keep it in a shrubby stage to benefit wildlife that needs young-forest habitat.
Biologist Bill Goudy (1933-2007) worked for conservation agencies in Michigan and West Virginia, and then for the U.S. Bureau of Sport Fisheries and Wildlife. He became a regional director for the Ruffed Grouse Society in 1984, a position he held until his retirement in 2002.
Steve Liscinsky was a woodcock biologist for the Pennsylvania Game Commission. Throughout his career he worked in central Pennsylvania’s Bald Eagle Valley, including on State Game Lands 278. Liscinsky wrote The American Woodcock in Pennsylvania, published by the Game Commission in 1965. The Ruffed Grouse Society, the Pennsylvania Game Commission, and Liscinsky’s friends and family helped fund this habitat-improvement project in his memory.
Forest Investment Associates, a timber investment management company, manages the Clermont Tract, more than 25,000 productive wooded acres in southern McKean and northern Elk counties, northcentral Pennsylvania.
The rolling upland and mountainous terrain is forested with cherry, maple, ash, beech, birch, aspen, pine, and hemlock. Deer, black bear, bobcats, fishers, snowshoe hares, and a range of birds inhabit the area.
In a floodplain on this largely forested 10,000-acre State Game Lands in Venango County, northwestern Pennsylvania, wildlife managers are converting 83 formerly farmed acres to woodcock habitat. At the core of the project is a 25-acre site where a field’s drainage pattern has been radically changed and thousands of tree and shrub seedlings have been planted.
This U.S. Army Corps of Engineers flood-control project in Huntingdon County, central Pennsylvania, controls a drainage area of 960 square miles in the Juniata and Susquehanna river basins. The site includes a 28-mile-long lake surrounded by more than 22,000 acres of lowlands and uplands. Wooded areas are a mix of oaks, hickories, maples, and softwoods; on the west side of the lake lie many old farms whose fields are now filling in with native and invasive shrubs and trees. Birdlife includes ruffed grouse, woodcock, wild turkeys, waterfowl, raptors, and many species of songbirds. The area supports a large deer population.
At this popular central Pennsylvania park, 5,900 acres surround a 1,730-acre flood-control lake behind a large earthen dam on Bald Eagle Creek. Park visitors hike, camp, fish, boat, hunt, and view wildlife.