One of our favorite spots for a weekend hike, when we lived in PA, was Ferncliff Peninsula Natural Area in Ohiopyle State Park. Our adult daughters remember many Sundays spent there, amid the tulip poplar, oak, black birch, and hemlocks. Some of the trees are estimated to be about 200 years old. We would start our hike on the part of the trail that runs along the edge of the peninsula, walking along the slabs of sandstone that formed ledges along the Youghiogheny River.
Looking down at the rock, we saw the fossils of plants from millions of years ago– Cordaites, Lepidodendron, and Calamites. The area was part of a tropical swamp when these plants were alive.
We heard the rush and roar of the water crashing over the Ohiopyle Falls before we turned to follow the trail into the majestic forest.
This forest is part of the historic homelands of the Massawomeck and Osage peoples.
Edgar J. Kaufmann, Sr., who owned Fallingwater, the famous home designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, and located nearby, fell in love with Ferncliff Peninsula and wanted to protect it. He bought the peninsula in the 1950s, donating it to the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy. In the 1960s, Ferncliff Peninsula became part of Ohiopyle State Park.
Ferncliff Peninsula Natural Area is listed in the PA Old-Growth Forest Network. You can see the other forests in PA by going to https://www.oldgrowthforest.net/pennsylvania.
Yesterday, public comments were heard by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of the Interior about protecting mature and old-growth forests and trees on federal public lands from logging. Environmental groups seek to make this position an important part of the U.S. climate policy.
Old-growth forests provide so many benefits to our environment. They store vast amounts of carbon, serve as watersheds, protect water for nearby communities, provide critical habitat for diverse species of plants and wildlife, and are more resistant to wildfire. Not to mention, the beauty and quality of life experiences they provide as recreational destinations for individuals and families.
We cherish our time spent at Ferncliff Peninsula Natural Area.
Let’s protect old-growth forests on federal public lands to protect our planet from climate change, and so our children and grandchildren can enjoy their beauty.
Have a wonderful day!