About the Area
The Allegheny National Forest includes several special areas such as:
Two Wilderness Areas
Two National Scenic Areas
Two National Wild & Scenic Rivers
- The Allegheny National Recreation Area
- Buckaloons Recreation Area
- North Country National Scenic Trail
- Tionesta Research Natural Area, the largest contiguous tract of old growth forest in Pennsylvania.
The Allegheny offers a wide variety of recreation activities including: boating, camping, hunting, fishing, ATV riding and snowmobiling that result in about 4 million recreation visitor days annually. The 12,000-acre Allegheny Reservoir provides boating, camping and fishing opportunities.
About one-third of the world’s supply of black cherry furniture veneer is provided by the Allegheny National Forest. In addition, numerous oil and gas wells are located throughout the forest.
Abundant fish and wildlife provide a variety of hunting, fishing, and viewing opportunities. The changing colors of the hardwood leaves each fall provide spectacular views from the many overlooks around the forest.
The area has four distinct seasons, with an annual precipitation of about 40 inches.
- Spring brings many blooming wild flowers and other natural vegetation.
- Summers are warm and moderately humid with average temperatures of 75-80 degrees.
- Fall provides panoramic views as the foliage turns spectacular colors of yellow, reds and purples.
- Winters are moderate with average temperatures of 20-25 degrees and about 60 inches of snowfall annually.
Highlights of Management
European settlers reached this area in the early 1800's. At first, trees were cut to clear land for agriculture and to provide timber for cabins and barns. Soon, the first commercial water-powered mills cut small amounts of lumber from selected pine, hemlock and large hardwoods.
By 1900, deer and their predators were almost eliminated due to over-hunting. The Pennsylvania Game Commission began to restore the deer herd by importing deer from other states.
In 1911, Congress passed the Weeks Act, allowing the federal government to buy land in eastern states for the establishment of National Forests. The Allegheny National Forest was established in 1923.
The land was so depleted that many residents jokingly called it the "Allegheny Brush-patch." Some worried the forest would never recover. But with low deer populations, a new forest did quickly grow.
Abundant browse led to a dramatic increase in the deer population, which peaked in the 1940's and again in the late 1970's. Since the mid-1980's, the deer population has remained fairly constant -- although at a level higher in many places than the forest can support.
During the 1920's, recreation on the ANF focused mostly on dispersed activities such as hunting and fishing. In the 1930s, the Civilian Conservation Corps changed the face of National Forests by building hundreds of recreation facilities, including Twin Lakes and Loleta Recreation Areas on the ANF. These facilities became popular after World War II when newly-mobile families discovered the joys of outdoor recreation.
The creation of the Allegheny Reservoir when the Kinzua Dam was completed in 1965 brought the most dramatic change to developed recreation on the ANF. Within ten years, a tremendous development program resulted in campgrounds, boat launches, beaches, picnic areas, hiking trails and overlooks around the reservoir shoreline and elsewhere throughout the forest.
As a result of industrialization and widespread unregulated logging of the Allegheny Plateau, many rivers and streams were threatened with intense pollution and channel instability. President Calvin Coolidge recognized the importance of watershed health and established the ANF with the aim of restoring and protecting the Allegheny River watershed.
Since that time, conservation efforts to protect and restore the Allegheny River watershed led to a remarkable recovery of the Allegheny and Clarion rivers. This recovery resulted in their designation as wild and scenic rivers for their outstanding scenic, natural, recreational, scientific, historic, ecological and fisheries resource values.
Into the Future
By the 1940's, the forest began to take on an appearance familiar to us today. The older trees provide acorns, cherries, and beech nuts for bear and turkey. Birds find sites for nests in the leafy tree crowns and plants like trillium prefer the filtered light of the maturing forest.
Over time, various laws added other benefits such as creating wilderness, protecting heritage resources and allowing grazing in addition to watershed protection and providing continuous timber.
Eastern National Forests are primarily second-growth forests and differ in character than National Forests in the West created from huge forest reserves of largely virgin forest. Today, after almost 100 years of careful management, the trees are mature and able to provide quality hardwood for furniture and other needs.