French Creek watershed protected, celebrated

Ducks Unlimited, partners conserving ecologically significant waterways

Participants tour the watershed May 19

Participants tour the watershed May 19

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The French Creek Watershed Partnership Celebration and Project Tour on May 19 in Crawford County showed 50 people the up-close impacts of partner and volunteer support uniting for a common conservation goal.

Event attendees toured Cussewago Bottom Conservation Area and Helen B. Katz Natural Area, and learned how Ducks Unlimited, Western Pennsylvania Conservancy and French Creek Valley Conservancy have secured and protected hundreds of acres of land in the French Creek watershed.

French Creek is one of the most ecologically significant waterways in Pennsylvania. It contains more species of fish and freshwater mussels than any other comparably-sized stream in the Commonwealth and across the northeastern United States. Securing the vital habitat has stretched into many aspects of Ducks Unlimited.

Ducks Unlimited, the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, a private landowner and National Wild Turkey Federation were awarded a $75,000 North American Wetland Conservation Act grant to acquire a 120-acre property in along Cussewago Creek, a French Creek major tributary, which is part of the French Creek Landscape Conservation Area.

That good work enabled Ducks Unlimited and partners French Creek Valley Conservancy (FCVC) and Western Pennsylvania Conservancy to be awarded a $450,000 grant from the Richard King Mellon Foundation to launch a land protection fund for the French Creek Watershed. The money will be used for future projects in the French Creek watershed.

Since acquiring the 120-acre property, Ducks Unlimited has moved ahead with two other NAWCA grants. A $100,000 grant will enable Ducks Unlimited, the WPC, Pennsylvania Game Commission, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources to acquire and permanently protect 74 acres of wetland, 81 acres of floodplain and 19 acres of associated upland habitat.

A second, $100,000 NAWCA grant has allowed for the acquisition and protection of a 161-acre tract in Crawford County. Partners on that protection effort include the WPC, private landowner John Tautin and Crawford County Sportsmen’s Council.