PLEASE NOTE: French Creek is open during hunting season (Oct 1 - Dec 20). We recommend wearing blaze orange.
The French Creek watershed is a biodiversity hotspot located within our Upper Allegheny Basin priority conservation landscape. Not only is it the most biologically diverse aquatic system in the Northeast, but it also contains five times more species than the average New York stream! Our French Creek Preserve is located within this thriving watershed.
French Creek derives its name from a fort that the French erected during the 18th century in what is now Erie, Pennsylvania. On one of his first diplomatic missions for Colonial America, a young George Washington traveled up French Creek in the winter to request that the French abandon the fort. Washington’s canoe capsized on the return trip, and he nearly froze to death.
French Creek's wide array of aquatic habitats—including headwater and mid-reach streams, riparian corridors and wetlands—sustain 89 species of fish and 28 species of mussels. Thirteen globally rare species inhabit the creek, including the Tippecanoe Darter, found nowhere else except here and the upper Allegheny River Basin, and the federally endangered clubshell and northern riffleshell mussels. Many of these species have disappeared from American waterways, but French Creek continues to provide them precious refuge.
Because the 1,235-square mile watershed drains parts of western New York and northwestern Pennsylvania, we collaborate with the Pennsylvania chapter on this project. French Creek has served as a valuable proving ground for many of the Conservancy's science techniques.