Overlooking the town of Altoona, The Nature Conservancy’s Brush Mountain Preserve is part of a large, intact mix of oak and hickory woodlands considered to be a high priority within the Central Appalachian Mountains landscape. In fact, TNC staff and scientists from six states are working throughout this region to save one of the Earth’s healthiest, most biologically diverse, deciduous temperate broadleaf forests. The site is also noted in the Blair County Natural Heritage Inventory as a County Natural Heritage Area and a Landscape Conservation Area.
TNC is in the process of enrolling Brush Mountain into the Working Woodlands program, which provides a comprehensive property-wide forest assessment and a Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)-certified forest management plan. TNC will then implement a variety of forest management activities to restore the preserve to a healthier condition. This restoration effort is necessary due to extensive high-grading, a logging practice that takes the best trees and leaves a compromised forest.
Logan and Franklin Townships, Blair County
Illegal ATV use and deer overbrowse.
What’s At Stake
Brush Mountain serves as part of a nightly foraging area for the federally endangered Indiana bat and as the largest maternity colony of little brown bats in Pennsylvania. The bat colony spends its days in Canoe Creek State Park, three miles east of Brush Mountain. Because of its significance to bats as well as to the Pennsylvania-endangered Allegheny woodrat, Brush Mountain is designated as part of the Canoe Creek Important Mammal Area.
The preserve’s large, intact forest also serves as southern terminus of the Bald Eagle Ridge Important Bird Area, a significant migratory route for raptors and neotropical migrants. The preserve also hosts wild turkey, black bear and white-tailed deer. Timber rattlesnakes, a species of conservation concern in Pennsylvania, live among the rocky outcroppings found at the preserve.
TNC conducted the first prescribed burn at this property in the spring of 2016 as part of the forest management plan.