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Wild and Natural Areas

Pennsylvania’s state forest system includes dozens of special wild and natural areas set aside to protect unique or unusual biologic, geologic, scenic and historical features or to showcase outstanding examples of the state’s major forest communities. Natural areas are “managed” by nature and direct human intervention is limited. They provide places for scenic observation, protect special plant and animal communities and conserve outstanding examples of natural beauty. Wild areas are generally extensive tracts managed to protect the forest’s wild character and to provide backcountry recreational opportunities.

Cranberry Swamp Natural Area

Cranberry Swamp Natural Area is located in Clinton Co., south of Renovo. It features a 144-acre mountain bog along the Chuck Keiper Trail in the headwaters of Cranberry Run.

East Branch Swamp Natural Area

East Branch Swamp Natural Area is located along Route 144, south of Renovo. Old growth eastern hemlock shading the headwaters of the East Branch of Big Run in a 186-acre mix of plant communities resulting from turn-of-the-century logging, fires and recent tornadoes.

Tamarack Swamp Natural Area

Tamarack Swamp is located northeast of the town of Tamarack, Clinton County. This 267-acre track supports eight wetland types including the tamarack and black spruce swamp for which it is named.

Bucktail State Park Natural Area

Bucktail State Park Natural Area commemorates the service of the Bucktail Regiment during the Civil War. State forest land, from mountain rim to mountain rim, along PA Route 120 is included from Lock Haven to Emporium.

Burns Run Wild Area

Burns Run, an exceptional value stream, empties into the West Branch of the Susquehanna River, supporting a naturally reproducing population of wild trout. The escarpment of Burns Run Wild Area is covered in a diverse forest of second growth hardwoods. There are individual and small groves of large white pine trees from the nineteenth century. Remnants of an old railroad grade used to haul timber during the logging boom of the late 1800’s are evident, but there are no roads in Burns Run.

Russell P. Letterman Wild Area

This wild area encompasses 4,715 acres of steep mountains bordering Fish Dam Run, Clinton County. Fish Dam Run can be viewed from a vista along PA 144 south of State Camp. The Russell P. Letterman Wild Area joins the Bucktail Natural Area to the north and PA 144 on the south. This is a rugged and remote area that can only be explored on foot.

Old Growth Forest Area

This proposed 14,000-acre area combines part of the Bucktail State Park Natural Area, Burns Run Wild Area, Fish Dam Wild Area, and the Barneys Run, Jews Run, Yost Run, Fields Run and Smith Run escarpments. The West Branch of the Susquehanna River flows through the Old Growth area, which will be managed to encourage tree longevity and patchy sequence of many successional stages of forest growth.