The Lead

Deep in Bedford Co., Pa. protects its 19th old-growth forest

By: - March 16, 2022 5:19 pm

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In the heart of a southwestern Pennsylvania natural area is the commonwealth’s 19th old-growth forest.

The area, which covers more than 1,500 acres in Sweet Root Natural Area near Chaneysville in Bedford County, was recognized this week as the commonwealth’s newest, old-growth forest.

The Old-Growth Forest Network, a national organization working to preserve ancient forests, and the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, announced the news on Tuesday. 

Some of the trees in Sweet Root Natural Area, which include such species as Tulip-poplar, cucumber magnolia, hemlock, white pine, oak, red maple, some ash, some beech, according to the Old-Growth Forest Network, are estimated to be more than 150 years old. 

While 18 other old-growth forests have been protected in Pennsylvania, DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn said they are still rare in the commonwealth due to clear-cut logging practices in the 19th and early 20th centuries. 

“Pennsylvania is already home to a number of Old-Growth Forests, and we are happy to have that designation bestowed on Sweet Root Natural Area,” Dunn said. “This designation will call attention to the important history and heritage of the Sweet Root Natural Area, which serves as a model for conservation as we continue to preserve natural spaces and look for solutions to our global climate crisis.”

Here’s where to find old-growth forests in Pennsylvania: 

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