AP NEWS

Nov. 17 Casselman Project

November 16, 2018

The Western Pennsylvania Conservancy has added an additional mile of forested frontage along the Casselman River across from the Great Allegheny Passage Trail near Lower Turkeyfoot Township.

This newly protected 35-acre property is located is about three miles east of Confluence. It is now open for hiking, birding, wildlife watching and other forms of low-impact recreation, according to a news release from the organization.

“This property was identified by many local stakeholders as a key protection priority because of its high visibility from the GAP Trail and extensive frontage along the Casselman River,” said Tom Saunders, president and CEO of the Conservancy. “With the generosity of our funding partners, we’re pleased to continue protecting natural areas and wildlife habitats along the Casselman River, and also to provide protection of the scenic views along the GAP trail.”

Jane Menchyk, project manager of the new area, said the conservancy is close to 644 acres total in different sections.

“These properties are open to the public,” she said. “Folks who are coming down the river or biking or walking down the trail, they can enjoy the properties. They can bird watch, hike and nature studies. This is part of a management unit. This is what we’re saying to actively enjoy what Somerset has to offer.”

This property protects several rare plant species found within this section of the Casselman River floodplain, where dense vegetation, forests and wetlands play an important role in filtering and storing water while providing important, high-quality habitat for wildlife, according to the news release.

Accompanying these ecological protections are the scenic and public recreation benefits this property provides to improve river access for anglers and paddlers. It is in proximity to four canoe/kayak access points along the river operated by Conservancy partners, the Casselman River Watershed Association and the PA Fish and Boat Commission.

Two of these access locations, Fort Hill and Harnedsville, were created by grants from the Conservancy’s Canoe Access Development Fund. Experienced paddlers will pass through this and other Conservancy-protected lands during a 5.5-mile trip that features mostly fast, flowing water and open rapids between those two access points.

Leaders with the organization said the purchase of this property was made possible by Charles and Sandra Romesburg of Logan, Utah. Additional grant funding was provided by the Katherine Mabis McKenna Foundation and the PA Department of Environmental Protection.

Before exploring the property, visitors are encouraged to first contact the Conservancy for parking and access information at 412-586-2318 or azadnik@paconserve.org.

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