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Western PA Conservancy Permanently Protects Land Along French Creek

The Western PA Conservancy recently conserved a 77-acre property in Erie County that includes more than 2,700 feet of frontage on the West Branch of French Creek.
            “This important and scenic property in the French Creek watershed will be protected from future development,” said Conservancy President and CEO Thomas Saunders. “This property adds to the over 3,700 acres the Conservancy has already permanently protected within this significant watershed.”
            WPC worked with the property’s owner, Suzanne Bowen, to protect the land through a life estate arrangement. The Conservancy purchased the property, but Mrs. Bowen will continue to live on and use it during her lifetime.
            Life estate arrangements provide landowners the advantage of continuing to enjoy their land while having the assurance that the organization of their choice has accepted the land for permanent protection. When WPC has full possession of the property, it will be maintained and managed as a natural area.
            "My mother has always cherished the natural beauty and serenity of the farm,” said Doug Bowen, Mrs. Bowen’s son. “She is pleased to be able to preserve the land in its natural state for future generations to appreciate and enjoy, as she has, for years to come."
            The land includes a forest consisting of black cherry, oak, sugar maple, silver maple, eastern hemlock and American elm trees, all of which act as a natural filter, protecting French Creek from pollution and supporting habitat for aquatic life.
            Funding for the purchase of this property was provided by family members in memory of Bradford Barnes, combined with funds from a generous bequest from Helen Katz. This protection will help restore and maintain the French Creek watershed.
            French Creek has the highest documented aquatic biodiversity of any stream of its size in Pennsylvania and all states to the northeast. It includes species of federally endangered freshwater mussels, 26 total mussel species and numerous fish species of greatest conservation need in Pennsylvania. This acquisition would protect bottomland and floodplain forest, as well as maintain a forested buffer along French Creek.
            “Many landowners feel a strong connection to their land and are fortunate to be in a position to make decisions now that will impact future generations,” said Ann Sand, WPC’s land protection specialist. “The Conservancy is actively working in the French Creek watershed to offer conservation options to landowners who are interested in working to protect the important natural features of their properties.”

(Reprinted from the May 2012 Issue of Water, Land, Life newsletter from the Western PA Conservancy.)


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