In addition to providing sweeping views of Pennsylvania’s northeastern corner, the Dick and Nancy Eales Preserve at Moosic Mountain represents one of the best examples of ridge-top heath barrens in the northeastern U.nited States. Contrary to the name, these “barrens” comprise a healthy mosaic of stunted pitch pine and scrub oak forest dominated by huckleberry, blueberry, rhodora and other low-lying shrubs.
In 2001, The Nature Conservancy purchased 1,200 acres in the heart of Moosic Mountain that were slated to become a business park. With support from the state of Pennsylvania and a passionate grassroots effort, the business park was relocated to a former industrial site. In addition to creating 5,000 new jobs, this solution succeeded in protecting sensitive mountaintop habitat that will help to reduce impacts to water quality from improper development.
Today, TNC continues to work with state government and local partners to foster compatible uses and a sense of ownership among bird watchers, mountain bikers, sportsmen and other community groups interested in protecting Moosic Mountain’s ecological resources. Towards this end, TNC also employs restoration tools, like prescribed fire, and pursues additional land and conservation easement acquisitions to advance our mission at the preserve..
Lackawanna County, eight miles northeast from Scranton
This area has not remained immune to development pressures and a lack of fire that has led to a decline in ridge-top heath barrens across the state.
What’s At Stake
Wildlife has not been as well documented as in other natural areas in Pennsylvania due to the preserve’s location on a cool, windswept mountain ridge. However, in addition to boasting one of the best and largest ridge-top heath barrens in Pennsylvania, the preserve harbors an array of birds, butterflies and moths—including the globally-rare sallow moth and barrens buckmoth. Documented breeding birds include prairie warbler, black-and-white warbler, chestnut-sided warbler, hermit thrush, northern harrier and broad-winged hawk. Game species such as white tail deer, black bear, turkey, ruffed grouse, snowshoe hare and coyote can also be found at the preserve.
In 2001, TNC purchased 1,200 acres in the heart of Moosic Mountain. Since then, the Conservancy completed an ecological management plan and created twelve new miles of single-track hiking and biking trails. In 2009, TNC named the preserve after Dick and Nancy Eales, whose generosity has made it possible to continue to expand the preserve and to conduct the robust prescribed burning necessary to maintain the fire-dependent natural community.