Conservation Forestry, LLC and The Nature Conservancy today announced an agreement that will help conserve the forested fabric of Pennsylvania’s Elk County while maintaining the economic benefits of the region's working forests, protecting wildlife, providing outdoor recreational opportunities, and keeping the land on the local tax rolls.
The agreement involves 9650 acres of well-managed forests and portions of several coldwater streams that run through these woodlands. Under the agreement announced today, Conservation Forestry, LLC has purchased 10,000 acres of forest land from Kaul and Hall Oil and Gas Co., while The Nature Conservancy has an option from Conservation Forestry to secure a working forest conservation easement over much of the property within the next year.
The working forest conservation easement will be a legal agreement that limits development on the land, and ensures that the forests will be managed in a way that provides a long-term supply of timber while protecting the ecological processes necessary to support the abundant wildlife in this forest. The lands are part of the region’s extensive patchwork of forest which include the half-million acre Allegheny National Forest and the 1.5 million acres of state lands lying east of Highway 219.
Bill Kunze, Pennsylvania state director for The Nature Conservancy, said, “The Nature Conservancy is excited about this project which will benefit the community, conservation and private ownership. By joining with a conservation-minded timber investment company, we can ensure that excellent forest management continues on the property, and that it continues to support the local timber economy. The land will remain in private ownership and on the local tax rolls.”
Kunze said that when The Nature Conservancy has secured the easement within the next year, it will allow public access for wildlife watching, hiking, hunting and fishing on parts of the property.
“This is an exciting project for Conservation Forestry and a great example of how private capital and conservation capital can leverage each other’s goals,” added Kent Gilges, of Conservation Forestry, LLC, a timber investment organization based in New Hampshire. “We will continue to manage this forest to produce high-quality timber products that will flow into the regional economy. It is a true win-win and reinforcement of our belief that economic benefits and conservation go together.”
The deal will help achieve the Conservancy’s mission of protecting the diversity of life on Earth by securing habitat for black bear, brook trout, and the largest elk herd east of the Mississippi River.
“This rich, well-managed forest in the heart of the Pennsylvania Elk Range has sustained community jobs and connected people with nature through recreational and economic opportunities,” noted Todd Sampsell, Director of Conservation Operations for The Nature Conservancy. “Conservation of these lands ensures the tradition will continue for future generations.”
After purchasing the easement, The Nature Conservancy will conduct yearly monitoring of the timber harvest and other land uses to ensure Conservation Forestry and any future owners remain in compliance with the easement and best management practices. The Nature Conservancy is currently fundraising to pay for the conservation easement and future monitoring and management costs.
For more information, or to view an aerial video of the property, visit online at nature.org/pennsylvania.
The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at www.nature.org.
(301) 897-8570 ext. 231
(301) 401-7770 (cell)