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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 back country recreational opportunities.

Goat Hill Public Wild Plant Sanctuary

The Goat Hill Serpentine Barrens, located in the extreme southwest corner of Chester County, is a truly unique natural area. Serpentine barrens are not a common geologic feature in Pennsylvania. The particular soils which develop from the serpentine rock greatly influence the plant life growing on the site. Therefore these barrens are home to many unusual and possibly threatened or endangered species.

Little Tinicum Island Natural Area

Little Tinicum Island in the Delaware River is the site of one of the few tidal mud flats in Pennsylvania. This is also the site of several wetland species of plants and animals not commonly found in Pennsylvania. The island is a good place to observe waterfowl as well as some uncommon plants.

David R. Johnson Natural Area

This fifty-six acre wooded tract is located near New Hope in Eastern Bucks County. It is named after its former owner and its rich soils feature a wide variety of trees more frequently found in northern Pennsylvania than in the southeastern corner of the state.

Ruth Zimmerman Natural Area

This thirty-three acre tract is located in Berks County south of Breezy Corners.  It is primarily a forested wetland that features many pin oaks and various upland oak species.

Gibralter Hill

In 2015, through partnership with Natural lands Trust, the Bureau of Forestry acquired this forested tract, located northwest of the town of Birdsboro. Abundant unimproved and unmarked trails crisscross these 234 acres. Although it was once a planned subdivision, you can now visit this area and take in the spectacular vista of Berks County.

George W. Wertz Tract

The Wertz tract is another 2015 addition to the William Penn State Forest. This 400-acre property was formerly the watershed of the Wernersville State Hospital. Its namesake, George Wertz, was the local mill and farm owner who lived at the bottom of the mountain. It was through his advocacy that the state hospital was built in Wernersville. Through his guidance, the hospital later procured this property to protect its clean water and forest resources.