Goals of the Conservancy

Our primary focus is preserving wetlands. These have historically been under-represented in public ownership as they are often inaccessible, don’t typically grow valuable timber, and provide fewer general recreational opportunities than dry, wooded land. But what they do provide is increasingly seen as valuable:

  • Flood and erosion control
  • High quality habitat for plants and animals (43 per cent of threatened or endangered species in the U.S. live in or depend on wetlands.)
  • Natural filtering of pollution
  • Groundwater recharge

A secondary focus has been acquiring subsurface rights under particularly sensitive governmental lands. While the conservancy acknowledges that energy and construction materials are requirements of life and can be produced safely in most places, we feel that there are some locations where drilling, mining, and quarrying would be particularly damaging to the natural environment. In those cases, we help the government acquire the subsurface rights they need to protect their land.

Current Conservancy Projects

Our primary on-going project is the acquisition and consolidation of land for the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s State Game Lands # 301 along the Allegheny River in McKean County, Pennsylvania. This project has been under way for almost 30 years, as we have slowly acquired small tracts of land along the river or in the adjacent floodplain to add to this wetlands conservation unit. The Pennsylvania Game Commission is a fairly unusual governmental entity, as the promoting and protection of wildlife and habitat come first, human needs and recreation second. The state’s constitution requires the Game Commission to protect, manage, and preserve wildlife and their habitat for the benefit of generations yet to come, and doesn’t say anything about covering its costs or making the land suitable for human uses. So they are a good group to work with.

The conservancy has no ability to force people to sell their land and can’t offer to pay more than wetlands are worth on the open market, so acquiring land in a project area that includes over 20 miles of Allegheny River frontage plus miles more along Potato Creek and other tributaries is bound to take time. We have promised the state to see this through, however, and are still making slow but steady progress towards our original goal..

Other ongoing projects include wetlands preservation in the Finger Lakes region of New York, trail building in several counties, acquisition of recreational land for several town parks near Ithaca, New York, and small additions to State Game Lands #s 25, 30 and 61 in Pennsylvania. We have also worked on projects with the Erie Wildlife Refuge, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Conservation, the New York Department of Environmental Conservation, the New York and Pennsylvania State Park systems and the Allegheny National Forest.

Other Highlights

  • Donating 28.84 acres to Buttermilk Falls State Park for expanding the park and rerouting a Finger Lakes Trail spur.
  • Acquiring and donating private oil and gas rights under sensitive Pennsylvania State Forest lands in Potter County:
  • 2,098.8 acres under the Cherry Springs Dark Skies Park
  • 887 acres under the Hammersley Wild Area
  • Donating 6525.8 acres of coal rights under SGL # 30 to the Pennsylvania Game Commission.