Forest-related industries play a big part in the rural communities nestled within this region. In the small town of Johnsonburg in Elk County, the local paper mill has been here since the town’s beginnings over a century ago, and it remains the largest industry and employer. Working forests surrounding Johnsonburg provide a steady source of wood for the mill and support 328 local jobs.


In the largest conservation acquisition by a nonprofit in Pennsylvania history, we purchased the 32,598-acre Clarion Junction Forest in Elk and McKean Counties in 2018.  We purchased Clarion Junction Forest through our Working Forest Fund®—a program that protects large, ecologically and economically important forests from subdivision and change in land use. The Working Forest Fund will sustainably manage the working forestland over the next few years, providing the time needed to determine and implement permanent conservation strategies that support both recreational access and local economies.

Clarion Junction Forest. Photo credit: Steve Orr


Our goal in acquiring Clarion Junction Forest is not only to ensure that it will stay forested, but that the land can continue to support local mills and timber-related jobs.

Protecting this land is a big win for Pennsylvania’s environment. It provides a bridge between Pennsylvania Game Commission lands and the Allegheny National Forest, a connection that will benefit both people and wildlife.

The forest also safeguards important habitat for bear, deer, and birds like the American woodcock, black-throated blue warbler, cerulean warbler and Louisiana water thrush. Located within the “Pennsylvania Wilds” region, a 2.1-million-acre stretch of working forests that provides hunting, paddling, fishing and elk viewing opportunities, the Fund’s efforts to conserve the Clarion Junction Forest will boost the region’s $1.7-billion-dollar annual tourism industry. The land will be open to public recreation, including hunting and trout fishing.

"Under [the Fund’s] ownership, these lands will sustainably support the regional forest products industry, remain a valuable part of the local tax base, and allow for public recreational access. It’s great to see these conservation outcomes balanced with a win for our local communities."

—Lucas Dillinger, Wood Procurement Manager at the Domtar mill in Johnsonburg

"The Conservation Fund's partnership with the Pennsylvania Game Commission allows for a variety of recreational opportunities to take place on the Clarion Junction Forest in the Pennsylvania Wilds. Public-private partnerships are key to protecting critical forestland, wildlife habitat and the continuity of Pennsylvania's outdoor legacy."

—Scott Bearer, Habitat Planning and Development Division Chief, Pennsylvania Game Commission


The Conservation Fund is actively raising funds for a permanent conservation solution for these lands. For more information about how you can support the conservation of Clarion Junction Forest, please contact Rachael Joiner.