HARRISBURG – Gov. Edward G. Rendell said the commonwealth will protect nearly 3,000 acres in Tioga County by adding the land to Tioga State Forest, as the result of a generous gift from the Bob and Marion Jones family.
The land, formerly owned by a company that was controlled by the Jones family, has been transferred to the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources’ Bureau of Forestry.
“Adding this important piece of Pennsylvania’s great outdoors to Tioga State Forest will mean future generations will be able to enjoy it and the property will improve the quality of life in Tioga County,” Rendell said. “This land has sentimental value to the children of Bob and Marion Jones, and we offer our heartfelt thanks for their generous gift.
“We are grateful that the Jones family recognized the value of this land to the public for outdoor recreation, watershed and habitat protection; and we appreciate the family’s trust in DCNR to manage the property for the benefit of the public.”
The approximately 3,000-acre forested tract is located near Morris Run in Hamilton, Ward and Union townships, in the 12-county region known as the Pennsylvania Wilds. Acquiring the property, which lies in the headwaters of the Tioga River, provides considerable public access to the river. Restoring the Tioga River watershed is crucial to improving water quality in the Susquehanna River drainage area, which is important as a recreational asset in the Pennsylvania Wilds.
“Although not necessarily an avid outdoorsman, after his retirement my father would take long walks on this property, enjoying the serenity and the open space,” Dr. Robert Jones said. “Although we did have people who wanted to develop the property express an interest in acquiring it, our family felt it was important to see the land protected forever as open space as a part of the adjacent Tioga State Forest.”
A portion of the property has been reclaimed following mining operations and has unique grassland and early successional forests. Much of the property is younger Northern Hardwood stands, which will help the Tioga State Forest to achieve its management goal of balancing the age class of its forest. Under DCNR’s Forest Stewardship Council’s certified management, the forest will provide recreation, watershed protection, wildlife habitat and quality forest products for the citizens of Pennsylvania.
The goal of the Pennsylvania Wilds initiative is to increase outdoor recreation and heritage tourism across north central Pennsylvania consistent with responsible stewardship of the region’s public lands.
Tioga State Forest, named after a tribe of Seneca Indians that once inhabited the area, consists of 165,000 acres of state forest land in Bradford and Tioga counties. Most of the land was once owned by large lumber companies and land-holding companies. Tioga Forest contains the Pine Creek Gorge Natural Area – also known as the Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania – that occupies both sides of Pine Creek from just south of Ansonia to Blackwell, a distance of 18 miles. Pine Creek Gorge was designated in 1968 as a registered National Natural Landmark.
For more information about state forestlands, visit the DCNR Web site at www.dcnr.state.pa.us.