Three barred owls look alert while resting in a mossy tree.
Hemlock Trees A stand of hemlock trees at the Woodbourne Forest Preserve © Kelly Donaldson

Places We Protect

Woodbourne Forest Preserve

Pennsylvania

Woodbourne's ancient trees—a mixture of white pine, hemlocks, ash, maples, oaks and other hardwoods—blanketed the region prior to human settlement.

At the Woodbourne Forest Preserve, open fields, wildflower meadows, winding creeks, mossy bogs and historic stone walls complete a scene that invites and inspires artists from far and wide. However, most visitors seek out the preserve to witness its ancient trees—a mixture of white pine, hemlocks, ash, maples, oaks and other hardwoods that blanketed the region prior to European settlement. In fact, a portion of the preserve contains the largest remaining old-growth forest in northeast Pennsylvania.

Donated by the conservation-minded family of Francis R. Cope, Jr. in 1956, the property represents The Nature Conservancy’s first preserve in the state of Pennsylvania. Over the years, TNC has added to the original contribution of 500 acres through land acquisitions and the continued generosity of the previous owners. TNC also works to build on their legacy of inspiring and educating others about this extraordinary landscape.

Location

Northeastern Pennsylvania in Susquehanna County, six miles south of Montrose
 
Threats

Overbrowsing by deer, and pathogens such as hemlock wooly adelgid and emerald ash borer, as well as non-native invasive plants.

What’s at Stake

Varied terrain makes the Woodbourne Forest Preserve a hotspot for more than 180 species of birds, including pileated woodpeckers, great horned owls and winter wrens that nest within this forest that has endured for more than three centuries. In fact, Woodbourne is listed as one of Pennsylvania’s 100 best birding locations by the state Game Commission. Other species recorded at the preserve include Barred Owl, Red-tailed Hawk, Blue-headed Vireo, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Canada and Nashville warblers, Ovenbird, Scarlet Tanager, Wood Thrush and Purple Finch. . . to name a few.

Additional wildlife known to visit or inhabit the preserve include white-tailed deer, wild turkey, black bear, coyote, mink, chipmunk, jumping mice, southern bog lemming, snowshoe hare, beaver, raccoon, river otter, lilypad clubtail dragonfly and northern flying squirrel. Scattered wetlands at the preserve host frogs, snakes and nine salamander species such as the purple, two-lined and four-toed salamanders that hide among leather leaf and pitcher plants. Other plants found at the preserve include Robbins pondweed, carnivorous sundew, Painted trillium, wood sorrel, gold thread and other wildflowers.

Milestones

In 2006, the Keystone Trails Association restored existing trails and created new trails to mark the preserve’s 50th anniversary. TNC manages the preserve and its trails with help from a committed volunteer stewardship committee. The committee and volunteers also assist with implementing environmental education programs for local schools, scout troops, surrounding communities and other visitors.

Woodbourne Forest Preserve is is good for hiking (download a trail map), bird watching, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, photography and other nature-based activities. Throughout the year, the preserve hosts guided tours, educational workshops and other events that include “Nature Classes for Young Naturalists.” Call in advance to arrange a guided walk for groups of more than eight people.

Resources

Stand of Hemlocks at Woodbourne Preserve
Woodbourne Forest Preserve
Donated in 1956, Woodbourne is The Nature Conservancy’s first preserve in Pennsylvania.