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Natural Forest Areas
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
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
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
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.
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