Aerial view of Sycamore Island. For more views,
click on the Images tab above.
A trail passes a grove of silver maple and
other hardwoods that create the
rare forested island habitat.
Sycamore Island, located in the Allegheny River near Blawnox, PA, is the last remaining privately owned undeveloped island in Allegheny County. The island hosts a unique floodplain hardwood forest - among the most rare plant community types globally. The Allegheny County Natural Heritage Inventory included Sycamore Island as part of the "Allegheny River Biological Diversity Area" which has a ranking of "High Significance."
On January 28, 2008, Allegheny Land Trust acquired Sycamore Island with Colcom Foundation providing full funding for its conservation. "The conservation of Sycamore Island through the generous support of the Colcom Foundation ensures that this undeveloped island and its ecological, educational and recreational benefits will be forever protected," said Roy Kraynyk, Land Protection Director of The Trust. "This is an extremely exciting project," said Colcom Program Director Carol Zagrocki. "Sycamore Island is truly a rare conservation opportunity in the county."
Conservation of Sycamore Island creates an unique opportunity for the public to visit and experience a wild, natural island within an urban county. Additionally, the island can be used as a demonstration site for education about invasive species removal and water quality improvements along rivers, creating a special model for future study.
Online Tours of Sycamore Island
The Allegheny River Islands: Urban Oases (a part of WQED’s Experience series) presents a history of the Allegheny River and its islands. The half-hour program explores the history of the islands, and goes ashore to show viewers the conservation efforts and what’s actually there: from wildlife to native plants, from human inhabitants to artifacts left behind.
Join Allegheny Land Trust’s Roy Kraynyk and Pat McShea as they take Allegheny Front listeners on an audio tour of Sycamore Island. As they explore the island’s wildlife, you’ll learn about the hardwood habitat that makes the island so unique and the waterfowl that use the island as a stopping point during migration. You’ll also learn about the Trust’s management plan for the island which includes control and removal of invasive plant species.
Formation of Allegheny River Islands
To learn about the formation of the Allegheny River islands, see this excellent article by Paul g. Wiegman in the Tribune-Review.
Sycamore Island Management Plan
Since May 2009, Applied Ecological Services Inc. (AES) has been conducting an ecological assessment and preparing management plan recommendations for Sycamore Island. Allegheny Land Trust has received the final report and is reviewing the recommendations to devise a strategy for the future preservation of the Island. Please visit the Sycamore Island Stewardship Page to learn more about AES’s findings and recommendations.