Wild Plant Sanctuaries
There are many examples of exemplary native wild
plant habitat across the commonwealth. They may:
These special places can be designated as Wild Plant
Sanctuaries on public and private lands.
Plant Sanctuary Program
The DCNR Wild Plant Sanctuary Program was established through
the Wild Resource Conservation Act of 1982 to create a voluntary statewide
network of habitat managed specifically to conserve rare native plants.
Wild Plant Sanctuaries are found on DCNR land and receive special management.
By designating these sites as Wild Plant Sanctuaries, DCNR ensures that future activities
on public lands, such as recreation or timbering, will protect critical
biodiversity areas while enhancing and sustaining habitat.
Wild Plant Sanctuaries can also be
designated on private land. DCNR recognizes landowners for conserving
rare native plants and ecological communities through designation.
agree to protect the area and educate others about the importance of native
plants and their habitats. In return, they receive guidance on management
strategies through consultation with DCNR’s natural resource professionals.
Is your property eligible?
The goal of the
Wild Plant Sanctuary Program is to recognize some of the best examples of
habitat supporting state-listed species of concern. A property must function as
an exceptional refuge for Pennsylvania’s natural heritage.
must meet one or more of the following criteria in order to be considered for enrollment
into the Wild Plant Sanctuary Program:
Support plants that are rare, threatened, or endangered in Pennsylvania. Naturally-occurring rare plants will be given the highest consideration. State-listed species originating from nursery stock that is not of local or ecoregional origin will not be considered. Please do not collect wild listed plant species.
Contain host plants for rare moths, butterflies, or other arthropods. Appropriate food, nectar, and host plants are important to moths and butterflies in the adult and larval phase. An active breeding population of rare invertebrates or a high potential for these species to use the site should be demonstrated.
Includes outstanding or unique natural features or plant communities. Pennsylvania’s natural heritage also includes geologic features and plant communities. Springs, waterfalls, rock outcroppings and fossil beds demonstrate Pennsylvania’s diverse history and may host rare plant communities.
Maintained or managed using ecologically sound practices. This includes management techniques such as invasive species control, native plant restoration and deer exclusion. Sites with high education potential are also of value. If you are restoring a site, be sure your nursery uses local native species that are not poached from the wild. DCNR will also consider the presence of rare animal species.
Areas not considered Wild Plant Sanctuaries include:
Formal gardens, landscaping, or restorations using state-listed species of cultivated stock
Sites heavily infested with invasive plants
Properties threatened by future development or poor management practices
your property is eligible to be considered. You may wish to have your property
evaluated by a professional ecologist or botanist. Then fill out the
application, being as complete as possible. Send in photos or other information
you may have about your property.
application by email or by mail to:
DCNR, Bureau of Forestry
P.O. Box 8552
The Wild Plant
Sanctuary Committee will review your application and determine whether your
property can be enrolled in the program. You may be contacted in order to
schedule a site visit.
receive a letter from DCNR with the committee’s decision. If your
property does not meet the eligibility criteria, the letter will explain the
committee’s reasoning and how you might improve the property for a future
into the Wild Plant Sanctuary Program, DCNR will coordinate with you to develop
a wooden plaque and metal sign created by Penn Nursery Sign Shop
free of charge. If you choose to hold a designation ceremony for your
sanctuary, a committee member will be available for presentation of the plaque
Wild Plant Sanctuaries
DCNR hosts more than 50 public Wild
Plant Sanctuaries on state forest and park lands. They are chosen based on:
of exemplary populations of plant species of concern
Unique plant populations
in need of active management
Invertebrate species of concern or their host
Habitats with high plant species diversity or values
identified, plant sanctuaries are surveyed to determine their:
Management plans also are
developed to outline management and monitoring needs to conserve the resources
for which they were identified. Wild Plant Sanctuaries are designated special
resource management zones.