On December 19, the Game Commission and The Conservation Fund announced the purchase and preservation of 752 acres of forestland near Red Rock in Sullivan County.
Bordered on three sides by Ricketts Glen State Park and State Game Lands (SGL) 13 and 57, the property provides habitat for a variety of migratory birds, popular game animals, aquatic life and threatened and endangered species.
The newly protected area in Sullivan County features wetlands, swamps and forested headwaters for two miles of the high-quality Mehoopany Creek, including core habitat for natural heritage areas important for preserving biologic diversity and water quality of the North Branch of the Susquehanna River and the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.
“While this is a large acquisition for the Game Commission in terms of acreage, the overall impact is larger still,” said Game Commission Executive Director Bryan Burhans. “The acquisition pushes the total acreage of State Game Lands 13 to over 50,000 acres, and it creates nearly 100,000 acres of contiguous state game lands because State Game Lands 13 and 57 border one another. For hunters, trappers and all users of game lands-- and importantly, for wildlife-- the acquisition is an important achievement in conservation. On behalf of these parties and the Game Commission, allow me to thank The Conservation Fund for its efforts.”
The Game Commission purchased the land on December 18 with transactional support from The Conservation Fund and funding from the Williams Pipeline Company in connection with the construction and operation of the company’s Atlantic Sunrise natural gas pipeline project.
Now part of SGL 13, the land is open to the public for hiking, hunting, fishing and wildlife-viewing, activities that support the outdoor recreation economy of the Endless Mountains Heritage Region.
Additional funding for the acquisition was provided by the Game Commission.
“This is a great place to visit and experience the outdoors. In addition to wildlife and bird watching, the property has high quality habitat for game species and will prove a worthy addition to the opportunities afield for Pennsylvania hunters.” said Kyle Shenk, Pennsylvania State Director for The Conservation Fund. “Securing large contiguous forest as public land prevents fragmentation of habitat—which is good for wildlife, the forest products industry and local economies.”
Located within the Audubon Society’s designated Loyalsock North Mountain Forest Block Continentally Important Bird Area (IBA) and among more than 109,500 acres of protected public lands, the property supports breeding habitat for 75 species of migratory birds and bats, including state listed species like the American bittern, yellow-bellied flycatcher, American woodcock, Louisiana waterthrush and the silver-haired bat.
(Photo: Mehoopany Creek.)