Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania - Protected Areas

Protected Areas

The Pine Creek Gorge National Natural Landmark includes Colton Point and Leonard Harrison State Parks and parts of the Tioga State Forest along 12 miles (19 km) of Pine Creek between Ansonia and Blackwell. This federal program does not provide any extra protection beyond that offered by the land owner. The National Park Service's designation of the gorge as a National Natural Landmark notes that it "contains superlative scenery, geological and ecological value, and is one of the finest examples of a deep gorge in the eastern United States."

The gorge is also protected by the state of Pennsylvania as the 12,163-acre (4,922 ha) Pine Creek Gorge Natural Area, which is the second largest State Natural Area in Pennsylvania. Within this area, 699 acres (283 ha) of Colton Point and Leonard Harrison State Parks are designated a State Park Natural Area. The state Natural Area runs along Pine Creek from Darling Run in the north (just below Ansonia) to Jerry Run in the south (just above Blackwell). It is approximately 12 miles (19 km) long and 2 miles (3.2 km) wide, with state forest roads providing all of the western border and part of the eastern border.

Within the park, Pine Creek and the walls of the gorge "visible from the opposite shoreline" are also protected by the state as a Pennsylvania Scenic River. In 1968, Pine Creek was one of only 27 rivers originally designated as eligible to be included in the National Wild and Scenic River system, and one of only eight specifically mentioned in the law establishing the program. Before Pine Creek could be included in the federal program, the state enacted its State Scenic Rivers Act, then asked that Pine Creek be withdrawn from the national designation. However, there was much local opposition to its inclusion, based at least partly on mistaken fears that protection would involve seizure of private property and restricted access. Eventually this opposition was overcome, but Pennsylvania did not officially include it as one of its own state Scenic and Wild Rivers until November 25, 1992. The state treated Pine Creek as if it were a state scenic river between 1968 and 1992. It protected the creek from dam-building and water withdrawals for power plants, and added public access points to reduce abuse of private property.

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