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DCNR Celebrates Induction of Sweet Root Natural Area into the Old-Growth Forest Network

03/15/2022

Everett, PA -- Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn today visited Sweet Root Natural Area in Bedford County to celebrate its forest heritage and to induct it into the Old-Growth Forest Network.

“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.”

Tucked within Buchanan State Forest, Sweet Root Natural Area covers 1,526 acres near Chaneysville, Bedford County, and is located within Pennsylvania’s Ridge and Valley Ecoregion. A 69-acre stand of virgin hemlock and cove hardwoods along Sweet Root Run can be reached from Martin Hill Road following the Tarkiln or Sweet Root trails.

The Old-Growth Forest Network is a national organization working to preserve ancient forests for the enjoyment of present and future generations. In counties capable of supporting forest growth, the network identifies at least one forest that will be protected from logging and open to the public.

“We look forward to adding more forests to the Network in the future,” said founder and director of the Old-Growth Forest Network Joan Maloof. “We depend on a volunteer in each county to help us identify candidate forests. Laura Jackson, the Bedford County coordinator for Old-Growth Forest Network, has been a valuable volunteer supporter in assisting us. In addition to creating a network of forests, we are also creating a network of people who care about forests."

Sweet Root Natural Area joins 18 other Pennsylvania forests already in the Network. It is one of the few old-growth forests left in Pennsylvania after the clear-cut logging of the 19th and early 20th centuries. The water gap was protected, along with other virgin forest remnants, as one of 13 Forest Monuments in 1921.The balance of the natural area is composed of second-growth oak and oak-hard pine stands. Most of the large hemlocks have succumbed to infestation by the hemlock woolly adelgid.

In the early 19th century, enslaved people seeking freedom in the North hid in the forested mountains in spots like Sweet Root Gap. The remains of an early grist mill and a 1930’s Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) camp are within the natural area. The CCC camp was established in 1935 to provide housing and work for WWI veterans and itinerants. The picnic area adjacent to Sweet Root Natural Area was built as part of the CCC camp.

Find out more about Sweet Root Natural Area on DCNR’s website and about the Old-Growth Forest Network on its website.

MEDIA CONTACT: Christina Novak, 717-579-5177

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