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William Penn State Forest

Named for the founder of “Penn’s Woods,” William Penn State Forest contains 1,683 acres in 10 separate tracts across southeastern PA. The forest protects and conserves unique Pennsylvania ecosystems, including:

  • Goat Hill Serpentine Barrens
  • Little Tinicum Island Natural Area on the Delaware River

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.

Gibralter Hill

In 2015, through partnership with Natural Lands Trust, the Bureau of Forestry acquired this forested tract located northwest 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 observe a spectacular vista overlooking Berks County.

George W. Wertz Tract

The Wertz tract is another 2015 addition to William Penn State Forest. The largest tract comprising 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. 

William Penn State Forest Management

DCNR’s Bureau of Forestry manages our state forests for their long-term health and productivity while conserving native wild plants. These forests are managed as “working forests” and provide a suite of uses and values to Pennsylvania citizens, while maintaining the forest’s wild character.

Our state forests are managed for:

  • Pure water
  • Recreation
  • Scenic beauty
  • Plant and animal habitat
  • Sustainable timber and natural gas
  • Many other uses and values

The management of our state forests is guided by the State Forest Resource Management Plan.

William Penn State Forest Resource Management Plan

A district-level state forest management plan is written for each of the bureau’s 20 forest districts across the state.

William Penn State Forest staff hosted a public meeting (PDF) and online survey about its draft management plan in 2018. Public comments and responses (PDF) to the plan are available to review.

Using public input and building on the statewide 2016 management plan, the Bureau of Forestry revised and completed a new William Penn State Forest SFRMP (PDF), setting district-level management priorities.

2022 Management Activities

View William Penn State Forest’s 2022 management activities (PDF) for upcoming projects and events to implement the State Forest Resource Management Plan.

Ecosystem Management

The Bureau of Forestry has adopted “ecosystem management” as its principal strategy for managing state forests. This approach seeks to conserve the natural patterns and processes of the forest while advancing long-term sustainability.

Ecosystem management promotes the conservation of plant and animal communities and the landscapes and habitats that support them. It also accounts for needs and values of people and communities.

This results in a holistic, integrated approach to managing forest resources. 

A Working Forest

As you travel throughout the state forest, you’ll see examples of our forests “at work.” Some of these management practices are more noticeable than others, such as:

  • Active timber harvests
  • Deer exclosure fences
  • Natural gas drilling sites
  • Prescribed fires
  • Gypsy moth spraying

Others are more subtle, such as the:

  • Protection of a vernal pool
  • Buffering of a stream from timber harvesting
  • Designating a special area to conserve its wild character or protect a rare plant community

Each of these management practices and activities play a vital role in the management and conservation of our state forest system.

Dual Certified Forest

Pennsylvania’s 2.2-million-acre state forest system is one of the largest dual certified forests in North America. The forest is certified under Forest Stewardship Council™ and Sustainable Forestry Initiative© standards.

The FSC© is an independent organization supporting environmentally appropriate, socially beneficial, and economically viable management of the world’s forests.

SFI© certification focuses on protection of water quality, biodiversity, wildlife habitat, species at risk, and forests with exceptional conservation value.

Dual certification ensures that Pennsylvania’s state forests are managed to the highest third-party standards.


​Explore William Penn State Forest

William Penn State Forest