DCNR Celebrates Induction Of Hemlocks Natural Area, Perry County, Into The Old-Growth Forest Network

On October 25, Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn visited Hemlocks Natural Area in Tuscarora State Forest to celebrate its induction into the Old-Growth Forest Network.

“I am always in awe when walking among the ancient, old-growth trees across our beautiful state,” Dunn said. “I thank the Old-Growth Forest Network for its work to identify and support forests in Pennsylvania and across the U.S. This designation reminds all Pennsylvanians of the forest heritage of Penn’s Woods and spotlights the unique and exciting opportunities that are offered for outdoor recreation and experiencing nature in their state parks and forests.”

Hemlocks Natural Area encompasses 120 acres of virgin hemlock forest in a narrow ravine about one-half mile long within the 96,000-acre Tuscarora State Forest in Perry County.

The natural area is located on the lands of the Susquehannock peoples, who inhabited this region near the Susquehanna River for several centuries before European settlement

Many of the hemlocks located in the natural area are believed to be over 225 years old with the largest reaching over 120 feet tall and 50 inches in diameter. Numerous trees are over 24 inches in diameter.

The forest is comprised of a variety of tree species including hemlock, yellow birch, black birch, red oak, red maple, and chestnut oak.

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.

Founded in 2012 by Dr. Joan Maloof, the network currently has 177 forests in the Network across 32 states. Hemlocks Natural Area joins 25 other Pennsylvania forests already in the network.

“Pennsylvania is leading the nation in the quantity of old-growth forests dedicated to the Network,” Mid-Atlantic Director of the Old-Growth Forest Network Brian Kane said. “With 26 forests now in the national old-growth network, Pennsylvania shows its commitment to the preservation of old-growth forest within its boundaries. The DCNR has shown remarkable support for the protection of these valuable national resources. We could not grow the old-growth network without our volunteer county coordinators, who help us with forest identification and observations. I am extremely grateful for our county coordinator Jen Hirt, who assisted with the Hemlocks nomination in addition to assisting with the Boyd Big Tree area in Dauphin County this past April.”

John McCaskey and his wife Clara were instrumental in the establishment of the Hemlocks Natural Area. Often leading tours of the area, they played a leading role in the designation of the eastern hemlock as the Pennsylvania State Tree.

They are buried atop the nearby Conococheague Mountain. The National Park Service designated Hemlocks Natural Area as a National Natural Landmark in 1973.

Find out more about Hemlocks Natural Area on DCNR’s website.  Click Here for information on the other Old-Growth Forest Network sites in Pennsylvania.

Visit Explore PA Trails and Get Outdoors PA for recreation areas near you.

For more information on state parks and forests and recreation in Pennsylvania, visit DCNR’s website, Visit the Good Natured DCNR Blog,  Click Here for upcoming events, Click Here to hook up with DCNR on other social media-- Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr.

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[Posted: October 25, 2022]


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