A forester cuts logs on a snowy day.
Sustainable Forestry: A forester sustainably harvests a tree. © George C. Gress/The Nature Conservancy

Stories in Pennsylvania

Working Woodlands

Conserving forests benefits people and wildlife throughout Pennsylvania.

Around the country, states like Pennsylvania are losing healthy, mature forests to development, pests, catastrophic wildfires and a changing climate. The Nature Conservancy’s Working Woodlands program helps landowners ensure that their forests remain healthy, productive and profitable for future generations.

A forested river valley is viewed from a rocky outcrop.
Hawk Rock Overlook A rocky outcrop, with a view of the Susquehanna River valley, serves as the end of the Hawk Rock hiking trail in Duncannon, PA. © Duncannon Appalachian Trail Community

Connecting People and Places

Over the years, the Borough of Duncannon, located just outside of the state capitol in Central Pennsylvania, regularly harvested timber on a 1,620-acre forested property to generate money for the community. However, over time, invasive and exotic species such as striped maple, mile-a-minute vine and tree of heaven had taken over the native trees, leaving the forest compromised and lacking it's former vitality.

Enter The Nature Conservancy, who worked with the Borough of Duncannon to enroll the property in its Working Woodlands program. Working Woodlands engages landowners in restoring their forestlands to their ecological and economic potential. 

“TNC is proud to play a key role in protecting this property that is already cherished by people living in the Harrisburg region,” said Josh Parrish, director of TNC’s Working Woodlands program.

According to Parrish, TNC is working with the Borough of Duncannon to transform the property into a more diverse, resilient native forest ecosystem capable of standing up to current and future forest threats exacerbated by a changing climate. Once the forest management plan is in place, the forest will once again generate timber revenue. Landowners enrolled in Working Woodlands also have an opportunity to sell credits, tied to carbon stored in their forests, to businesses seeking to offset emissions.

“I am thrilled that we were able to partner with TNC to solidify our commitment to the responsible stewardship and maintenance of this important land resource, while gaining part of the capital we need to stabilize and upgrade our infrastructure,” said Darryl Croutharmel, Duncannon Borough Council president.

Working Woodlands is based on a simple principle. Landowners agree to keep enrolled acres in a healthy forested state. In return, they benefit from assistance with improving the value and the diversity of their forest.

Director of TNC's Working Woodlands Program

Working with the Borough of Duncannon to conserve its property came on the heels of a land acquisition, made by TNC, leading to creation of the 353-acre Cove Mountain Preserve.

"Together, these properties represent a stronghold within the Kittatinny Ridge, a chain of forested ridgetops that serves as one of the most important wildlife corridors within the northeastern U.S.," adds Parrish. "They also protect a portion of the local watershed that flows into the Susquehanna River and, ultimately, the Chesapeake Bay."

The Borough of Duncannon's property also boasts local popular hikes, like the Hawk Rock Overlook on the Appalachian Trail, which remains open to the public for hiking and seasonal hunting.

Mapping the Future of Our Forests Microsoft’s AI for Good initiative features The Nature Conservancy's Duncannon Borough project to illustrate how the company created our nation's first high resolution inventory of all forests to provide better data for making better decisions.

Download a brochure.

Pennsylvania Guidelines

In addition to being a minimum of 1,500 forested acres, Pennsylvania properties enrolled in Working Woodlands should generally be located in the following locations:

  • North Central Highlands (portions of Lycoming, Clinton, Tioga, Potter, McKean, Cameron, Elk, Clearfield and Centre counties)
  • Endless Mountains (portions of Lycoming, Tioga, Bradford, Sullivan, Wyoming and Luzerne counties)
  • Bald Eagle/Tuscarora/Saint Anthony's (portions of Clinton, Dauphin, Lebanon, Schuylkill, Berks, Lycoming, Centre, Union, Snyder, Huntingdon, Mifflin, Juniata, Perry and Franklin counties)
  • Northeast PA (portions of Pike, Monroe, Carbon and Luzerne counties)

Contact TNC's Working Woodlands program to learn more.