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Special Areas
Protecting Natural Forest Areas
The proposed Fools Creek Natural Area. Photo by Reg Darling.

The Allegheny currently has no Forest Natural Areas. The one Research Natural Area in the Tionesta old growth is less than one-half of 1% of the Allegheny National Forest. Forest Natural Areas would differ in that they would not necessarily be set aside for research purposes, though both areas are complimentary. There are numerous areas worthy of Forest Natural Area designation in order to conserve important wildlife habitat and unique research opportunities.

Lewis Run

The Lewis Run Natural Area would protect the only documented roosting site for the federally Endangered Indiana bat. The area contains large rock outcrops and also supports a population of the Forest Sensitive Butternut tree (Juglans cinerea). The Butternut is threatened throughout its North American range by a canker fungus.

Farnsworth Natural Area

The Farnsworth Natural Area would protect an area with a known presence of the federally Endangered Indiana bat. Like Lewis Run, there are several rock outcrops in this area and Farnsworth Branch is classified as a High Quality-Cold Water Fishery by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.

South Branch Willow Creek Natural Area

The South Branch Willow Creek Natural Area would protect the wetlands at the headwaters of both South Branch Willow Creek and North Branch Sugar Run which drain into the Allegheny Reservoir.

Bluejay Creek Natural Area

The Bluejay Creek Natural Area would protect at least 70 acres designated to be managed for old growth under the 1990 West Branch decision. There are several rock outcrops in the area as well as a wetland. Bluejay Creek is classified as a High Quality-Cold Water Fishery.

Sugar Run Natural Area

This natural area protects a known cave site and upland woods in the headwaters of Sugar Run. This site provides potentially important habitat for a numbers of small mammal species.

Mill Creek Natural Area

This special area would protect one of the highest confirmed populations of the endangered Indiana bat found in the Allegheny National Forest. Protecting this rare bats habitat is essential to protecting forest health in the Allegheny.

Fools Creek Natural Area

The Fools Creek Natural Area would protect one of the most extensive quartz/conglomerate rock outcroppings in the region. The sheer cliffs, house-sized boulders, and unusual formations sculpted by wind and water are simply spectacular. The cliff tops offer breathtaking vistas of the surrounding hills and valleys while below lies a maze-like complex of passageways and crevices amongst the immense boulders. Valuable den sites are provided by the many caves and deep crevices. The North Country National Scenic Trail also traverses the area.

Research Natural Areas

Tionesta Research Natural Area

The Tionesta Research Natural Area contains a portion of the largest eastern old growth forest between the Adirondacks and the Smokey Mountains. 500-year-old hemlocks mix with American beech and other hardwoods to provide approximately 2,000 acres of this now rare habitat. The status of this area would remain as it currently is, though a buffer would be provided by the proposed Tionesta Wilderness to prevent further degradation of surrounding lands as is occurring now through rampant clearcut logging and oil and gas drilling.

Muzette Research Natural Area

The Muzette Research Natural Area would protect a small pocket of old growth a few minutes outside Marienville. The Forest Service considered this area for a Research Natural Area under the 1986 Forest Plan but cited its small size, "unimpressive character", outstanding oil and gas rights, and occurrence of similar habitat in the Lake States as reasons for not designating it. We believe it is worthy of designation, particularly now that two Allegheny Defense Project members reached a settlement with Pennsylvania General Energy stating that no oil and gas drilling would occur within the old growth or a 200-foot buffer surrounding it.

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