In1923 Congress established the Allegheny National Forest (ANF), located in Northwest Pennsylvania, to protect the area from rampant clearcutting. Situated on a high-elevation, unglaciated portion of the Appalachian plateau, large-scale logging projects and increasing oil and gas development endanger this unique forest. Prior to 1998, when logging levels decreased due to environmental litigation, the Allegheny was the highest cut national forest, on a per-acre basis, in the East.
The ANF lies in an ecological crossroads between northern hardwood forests and the oak-hickory and the mixed
mesophytic forests of the South. The natural composition of the forest is primarily beech, hemlock, and maple with a significant white pine and birch component. Currently, the forest largely contains black cherry, maple, American
beech, and oak species. There are two small wilderness areas within the ANF, Hickory Creek (8,630 acres) and the Allegheny River Islands (374 acres) as well as two tracts of old-growth forest, Heart’s Content (under 100 acres) and the Tionesta Scenic and Research Natural Area (4,100 acres). Approximately 24,000 acres, or 5% of the Allegheny, is in inventoried roadless areas.
Although logging has profoundly impacted the habitats of numerous species, only a few are listed and protected by the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The Indiana bat, clubshell mussel, and the northern riffleshell mussel are listed as endangered while the small whorled pogonia and the bald eagle are threatened. Many regional and national conservation organizaions are also concerned about the cerulean warbler and have asked the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to list the species. Meanwhile, excessive road construction resulting from logging and oil and gas development projects continues to fragment critical wildlife habitat.
Allegheny Defense Project