PA DCNR Designates Clearfield County Tract a Wild Plant Sanctuary

HARRISBURG, Pa., May 21, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources has designated a new Wild Plant Sanctuary in Bloom Township, Clearfield County.

Bilger's Rocks, a property managed by the Bilger's Rocks Association, has been accepted into the DCNR Wild Plant Sanctuary Program, recognizing the commitment of association staff to preserve the site.

"The Wild Plant Sanctuary Program promotes conservation of natural areas and native plants while also recognizing private landowners who serve as models of good conservation and stewardship of these special resources," DCNR Secretary Richard Allan said. "These properties serve as models for other landowners, offering strategies to conserve rare plants as part of their management plans."

Bilger's Rocks is characterized by enormous stone outcrops scattered throughout the forested property. Crawlspaces, passageways and arches invite visitors to explore this unique geologic feature composed of 300 million-year-old sandstone. Mosses, ferns, and the gnarled roots of yellow birch cling to cliff walls.

The sanctuary provides habitat for the Appalachian shoestring fern, Vittaria appalachiana, a Pennsylvania threatened species. This fern, which prefers dark and damp recesses of non-calcareous rock, is quite unusual, existing only in the gametophyte stage, characterized by branching, ribbon-like appearance and single-cell thickness. In addition, the surrounding forest supports showy wildflowers, such as the pink lady's slipper.

DCNR plans to continue working with the Bilger's Rocks Association to locate populations of Vittaria appalachiana within the sandstone crevices and identify species of mosses and ferns growing on the rock walls.

The public is welcome to visit this sanctuary. More information can be found at http://www.bilgersrocks.com.

The Wild Plant Sanctuary Program was established through the Wild Resource Conservation Act of 1982 to establish a voluntary statewide network of native plant sanctuaries on private and municipal lands.  Landowners agree to protect the area and educate others about the importance of native and wild plants and habitats.  In return, they receive assistance with a management plan if needed, and have access to state technical assistance and ecological check-ups.

For more information about the Wild Plant Sanctuary Program, contact DCNR's Bureau of Forestry at 717-787-3444 or e-mail RA-PAPlandSanctuary@state.pa.us.

Details also are available on the DCNR website at www.dcnr.state.pa.us/forestry/plants

Media contact: Terry Brady, 717-772-9101

SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources



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