How We Work

Allegany Forests

With the Allegany Forests Project, The Nature Conservancy is helping to preserve an area of remarkable scenic beauty across some 262,000 acres in Maryland and Pennsylvania. More than 80 rare species live here. The Allegany Forests are located in the heart of the Central Appalachian Mountains, a region identified by Conservancy scientists as globally important.

The Conservancy owns and manages 771 acres at Sideling Hill Creek Preserve and 85 acres at Selinger Marsh Preserve. In addition, we have helped the state of Maryland protect 1,522 acres as additions to Green Ridge State Forest and the Aaron Straus Wilderness Area.

Beauty in Every Season

The Allegany Forests Project area offers nature’s gems in every season.  Springtime brings the colorful blooms of redbuds and serviceberries, along with the start of birding season.

The extensive forests attract many birds, including the cerulean warbler, a species that only breeds in older forest stands like those in western Maryland. More than 40 fish species swim in Sideling Hill Creek, and rare freshwater mussels, including the green floater, thrive on stream bottoms.

Interspersed with the forests are shale barrens that host a unique group of plants, butterflies and moths. Lepidopterists come in search of the flitting orange-brown northern metalmark or rare Olympian marble butterfly.

At summer’s end, one of the world’s 10 remaining populations of a rare aquatic wildflower called Harperella blooms on cobble bars in Sideling Hill Creek and Fifteen Mile Creek.  Each fall, birders arrive to count the raptors passing through. And in the quiet of winter, hikers can walk all day without seeing another person or hearing a car.

Visitors can experience the fantastic outdoor recreation and natural beauty of a huge area that is more than 70 percent forested, whether taking a day-long float trip, a quick dip in Sideling Hill Creek at the Conservancy’s preserve, or hiking in the 50,000-acre Green Ridge State Forest. And they can see for themselves why The Nature Conservancy believes in the importance of working with partners to preserve not just one shale barren or creek or stand of trees, but a large mosaic of landscapes where many species can thrive for generations.

Current Conservation at Work
  • Nearly 400 miles of roads contribute harmful sediment pollution to streams. One of the Conservancy’s key partners, the Appalachian Laboratory of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, is studying how land uses affect sediment pollution. Once we know which sources are the biggest contributors of sediment, we can better address the problem. The Conservancy is working with several partners on this issue through the Better Roads, Cleaner Streams Project.
  • The Nature Conservancy works directly with private landowners to protect the region’s rural character and natural heritage. We are teaching landowners about the role conservation easements can play in their long-term land stewardship plans and encouraging them to consider the Conservancy as a buyer if they decide to sell. With our partners, we conserved 340 acres of farm and forest land at Allegany Forests in 2007 through a purchased conservation easement (the first in this area) and the purchase of the largest forested inholding in Green Ridge State Forest.
Plan your visit to the Allegany Forests

For more information, contact Donnelle Keech at (301) 722-0313 or e-mail her at