Nature & Science

Jakes Rocks in the sunlight


The Allegheny, where science and nature intersect

The Allegheny National Forest staff and the Northern Research Station scientists located in Irvine, PA have an on-going partnership in researching and exploring impacts to the Allegheny. Two specific areas of the Allegheny, one expiramental forest and one research natural area.


Kane Experimental Forest

The Kane Experimental Forest was established on March 23, 1932, though research had begun as early as 1927. Its primary mission has been forest management research, though watershed research was included in the beginning and wildlife research is part of the current program. Ongoing long-term studies include individual tree and understory vegetation measurements; treatments such as thinnings, regeneration cuts, uneven-age cuts, and long-term measurements of unmanaged forest. The Kane is used heavily for training and tours for educational, professional, and landowner groups. National Atmospheric Deposition Program data have been collected at the forest since 1978. More information on the Kane Expiramental Forest can be found on the NRS website.

The USDA Forest Service's Experimental Forests (EF) are dedicated to long-term research on ecosystem processes, silviculture and forest management options, wildlife habitat characteristics, and forest growth and development. Experimental forests are canvasses on which some of the most inventive minds in Forest Service Research history have worked out their ideas. Replicated studies, maintained over decades, allowed us to first describe our region's resources and then to develop the stewardship principles we practice today.


Tionesta Research Natural Area

The Tionesta Research Natural Area was established in 1940 and is 2,113 acres in size. The Tionesta RNA and the adjacent Tionesta Scenic Area constitute one of the few remaining examples of the virgin hemlock-beech climax forest of the Allegheny Plateau. The site contains many species that are uncommon at this latitude. There is no recorded history of logging or fire in the RNA, but oil wells and pipelines were installed throughout the region, a few of which are still active. Severe windstorms damaged the southern edge of the RNA in 1808. Severe ice storms caused widespread damage in 1936 and 1950. In 1985 tornadoes blew down 954 acres of the Scenic Area. Two rare species in Pennsylvania are found within this RNA: Swainson’s thrush and yellow-bellied flycatcher. For more information on the Tionesta Research Natural Area visit the NRS website.

Research Natural Areas (RNAs) are areas that the Forest Service has designated to be permanently protected and maintained in natural condition. These protected natural areas include unique ecosystems or ecological features; rare or sensitive species of plants and animals and their habitat; and/or high-quality examples of widespread ecosystems. RNAs that are representative of common ecosystems in natural condition serve as baseline or reference areas. To help answer resource management questions, the baseline areas of RNAs can be compared with similar ecosystems undergoing silvicultural or other management prescriptions. In this way, RNAs make an important contribution to ecosystem management.

RNAs are managed to maintain the natural features for which they were established, and to maintain natural processes. Because of the emphasis on natural conditions, they are excellent areas for studying ecosystems or their component parts and for monitoring succession and other long-term ecological changes. Non-manipulative research and monitoring activities are encouraged in RNAs and can be compared with manipulative studies conducted in other areas.

RNAs also serve as sites for low-impact educational activities.


Beyond the Research

From wildlife to plants the Allegheny National Forest is teaming with life. Click one of the links below to find out about non-native invasive species, bats or witness trees.