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Dutlinger natural area joins old-growth forest network

Dutlinger natural area joins old-growth forest network

By Blake Jackson

The Forrest H. Dutlinger Natural Area in Susquehannock State Forest has been inducted into the Old-Growth Forest Network, a significant achievement for Pennsylvania's conservation efforts. This distinction highlights the state's commitment to preserving these irreplaceable ecosystems.

"This recognition underscores the rich history of the Susquehannock State Forest," said Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn. "Designations like this are crucial for conservation as we strive to protect natural spaces and address climate change."

The Dutlinger Natural Area boasts a 158-acre expanse of old-growth forest, featuring Eastern hemlock, American beech, and other towering trees, some estimated to be nearly 400 years old. This sanctuary also provides critical habitat for reptiles and amphibians.

Old-growth forests play a vital role in the environment. They store more carbon and nitrogen than younger forests, contributing to cleaner air and water. However, these ecosystems face threats, particularly the loss of hemlock trees due to the invasive hemlock wooly adelgid.

The Old-Growth Forest Network aims to create a nationwide network of protected, mature, and accessible old-growth forests. They envision having at least one such forest in every county across the U.S.

"Pennsylvania is a leader in this initiative," said Brian Kane of the Old-Growth Forest Network. With 31 old-growth forests now included in the network, the state demonstrates its dedication to preserving these natural treasures. The Dutlinger Natural Area's inclusion exemplifies the ongoing support from the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources."

The network relies on volunteers and organizations like the DCNR for forest identification and protection efforts. Founded in 2012, it encompasses over 185 forests across 32 states. The Old-Growth Forest Network not only safeguards these ancient forests but also educates the public about their ecological importance and advocates for their preservation.

Photo Credit: gettyimages-paul-hartley

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