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Kimberly run preserve

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May 2005

prepared for:

Board of Directors

Somerset County Conservancy

Box 241, Somerset, PA 15501

prepared by:

Ken Hotopp

Appalachian Conservation Biology

83 Frost Ave., Frostburg, MD 21532




Introduction 3

Acknowledgements 4

Natural and Cultural History 6

Physiography, Climate and Soils 6

Pleistocene 8

10,500 BP 9

300BP 11

150 BP 13

Early Logging 14

Recent 16

Inventory 18

Kimberly Run Watershed 18

Land Use 18 Wetlands and Water 19

Preserve Habitats and Wildlife 20

Field 20

Forest 21

Open Wetland 23 Streams 26 Infrastructure 27

Roads and Buildings 27

Trails 27

Management Direction 28

Members survey 28

Teachers Survey 29

Management Goals & Objectives 32

Watershed 32

Land Use/Ownership 32

Water Quality 33

Preserve Uses 34

Commercial 34

Conservation 34

Educational 35

Recreational 35

Safety and Security 35

Preserve Infrastructure 36

Roads and Buildings 36

Trails 37

Citations 39


Kimberly Run Preserve is a 260-acre undeveloped property of the Somerset County Conservancy in Somerset County, Pennsylvania. This resource management plan is intended to serve as the primary guiding document for land, water and wildlife conservation and use at the preserve.

Kimberly Run Preserve lies just southeast of Somerset Borough on Kimberly Run, and is bounded on the west by four-lane Rt. 219, on the north by the Pennsylvania Turnpike, to the north by Pennsylvania Dept. of Transportation land, and to the east by other private lands along Menser Road. Featuring forests, fields, wetlands and streams, this landholding is intended to conserve wildlife and provide recreation and outdoor education.

The Somerset County Conservancy is a nonprofit 501c(3) land trust providing for the permanent protection of land and its resources since 1994. SCC offers stewardship, education and advice for the preservation and enhancement of natural, scenic, agricultural, historic and open space lands.

“Conserving the future of Somerset County”


This plan represents the efforts of many contributors over several years, including the Somerset County Conservancy Board of Directors and membership, various partners, volunteers and interns, and Pennsylvania state officials. It is funded by the Pennsylvania Dept. of Conservation & Natural Resources’ Community Conservation Partnerships Program with matching funds and volunteer time from the Somerset County Conservancy and partners.
SCC Board of Directors


Jim Moses, President

Jeff Payne, Vice President

Lester Brunell, Secretary

Brooke Cook, Treasurer

Scott Bittner

Lester McNutt

Dave Steele

Richard Kaufman

Jeff Kimmel

Dave Mankameyer

Roger Latuch

Len Lichvar

Dan Seibert

Tom Roberts

Partners and Volunteers

Scott Alexander

Becky Costea (Watershed summer intern)

Malcolm Crittenden (Wells Creek Watershed Association);

Tom Dick DVM.

Rita Hawrot (Western Pennsylvania Conservancy)

David Mankameyer

Dennis McNair PhD.

Road Runners Birding Team

Partner Agencies and Organizations

Allegheny Plateau Audubon Society

Casselman River Watershed Association

Ducks Unlimited

Natural Resource Conservation Service

Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission

Pennsylvania Game Commission

Pheasants Forever

Somerset Conservation District

Somerset County Commissioners

Somerset Rural Electric Cooperative

US Fish & Wildlife Service

US Geological Survey

Wells Creek Watershed Association

Western Pennsylvania Conservancy

Partner Businesses

Old Tyme Builders

Reliant Energy

Somerset Trust Company


Elizabeth Piersol

Pennsylvania Department of Conservation & Natural Resources

John C. Oliver, Secretary

Cynthia Dunlap


Physiography, Climate and Soils

Somerset County is located upon the central Allegheny Plateau, the highland stretching from southwestern New York into West Virginia. Resistant Pottsville Sandstone characterizes the ridges of the plateau. A deep valley is carved into the plateau in the southern half of Somerset County by the Casselman River. Originating in western Maryland, the Casselman arcs north, then west into the Youghiogheny at Confluence. The village of Somerset lies on relatively high ground north of the Casselman, and is drained by the Casselman tributary Cox’s Creek. Areas to the northeast drain into Stonycreek, running northwest into the Allegheny River watershed. Kimberly Run is a tributary of Cox’s Creek coming from southeast of Somerset village.

Table 1. Climate characteristics of Somerset, PA (PA State Climatologist, 2005).


average daily max temp*

average daily min temp*

average precip**





















































* = 1926-1958; ** = 1926-1994

Weather is monitored at a National Climate Data Center station in Somerset, and climate information is compiled for varied periods. Average daily maximum temperatures are highest in July (80.8º F; 1926-1958) and lowest in January (37.3º F; Pennsylvania State Climatologist, 2005). Annual precipitation averages 43” (1926-1994), with the greatest amount falling in Spring (May average 4.18”). Snowfall averages 86.6” (1926-1994).

Soils along Kimberly Run are Philo (Ph) and Atkins (At) soils, with Purdy (Pu) occupying large areas of adjacent low-lying land (Figure 1; Yaworski, 1983). Both Atkins and Philo are typically found along Somerset County floodplains and are formed of acid shale and sandstone debris. Atkins is poorly drained soil while Philo is moderately drained. Purdy is more clayey and found on stream terraces.

Brinkerton (Br) is found at the foot of slopes with springs on the preserve, which is a typical location for this poorly-drained, acid, brown soil derived from shale and siltstone. Nolo (N) is a major soil type on lower slopes, and is a deep poorly-drained soil derived from gray sandstone. Cookport (Cp), found higher up on the south side of the preserve is a moderately drained soil also derived from gray sandstone. Berks (Bk) is found on the top of the field north of Kimberly Run and tends to be well-drained soil derived from brown shale and siltstone.

Figure 1. Soils of the Kimberly Run Preserve vicinity.


Pollen records for sites dating to the time of full North American glaciation during the last Ice Age (19,000-14,000 before present) are rare. Fortunately, one such site, studied by Maxwell and Davis (1972) is relatively nearby on the Allegheny Plateau. This is at The Glades, located in the Bittinger area of Garrett County, Maryland, approximately 33 miles to the south. Because Kimberly Run is also situated on the Plateau at a similar elevation, it may share some vegetation history.

Pollen from the Glades (which Maxwell and Davis call Buckel’s Bog) and elsewhere in the Northeast indicates tundra-like vegetation at the time of the last glacial maximum (during the Pleistocene), extending 300 kilometers or more south of the southern edge of the ice sheet in central Pennsylvania. The character of such habitats throughout the area south of the ice sheet in eastern North America is under some debate. Although there were areas of tundra-like vegetation between the ice sheet and evergreen forest to the south, in places it appears that there was little gap, so the pattern may have been a mosaic of tundra and forest.

The mid-Pleistocene pollen series from The Glades is dominated by sedges (Cyperaceae), and spruce and pine pollen is also present, which may support the concept of a tundra-forest mosaic. Maxwell and Davis (1972) suppose the conifer pollen was blown in from pockets of forest at lower elevations in the region.

Vegetation of these tundra areas was probably unlike that of today’s Arctic. For one thing, because of the lower latitude, summers were warmer. Vegetation of the open habitats may have been more similar to that of a grassy steppe.

Figure 2. Pleistocene bear skull from Cumberland Cave.

In the late Pleistocene (14,000-10,500 BP), the ice sheet that had reached to mid-Pennsylvania began to retreat. At about 12,700 BP tree pollen sharply increased at The Glades, indicating a replacement of tundra vegetation with an open boreal woodland, including widely-spaced spruce and jack or red pine. At this time, pollen of oaks, ash and hornbeam appeared. This deciduous tree pollen is interpreted as having blown in from lower elevations, perhaps aided by a change in prevailing winds.

Evidence of the Pleistocene fauna of the region comes from Cumberland Cave, in northern Allegany County, Maryland (Gidley and Gazin, 1933, Holman, 1977). A former 100 foot-deep limestone sinkhole that was intercepted by a railroad cut, this cave accumulated remains of a wide variety of vertebrates. Among the bones are those of many animals still in the region today, such as slimy salamander (Plethodon glutinosus), box turtle (Terrapene carolina), rattlesnake (Croatalus horridus), ruffed grouse (Bonasa umbellus) , short-tailed shrew (Blarina brevicauda), big brown bat (Eptesicus fuscus), white-footed mouse (Peromyscus leucopus), and white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus). However, the mammalian fauna is interesting, among many reasons, for having several animals now extinct, such as mastodont (Mammut cf. americanus) or no longer living in eastern North America, such as tapir (Tapirus sp.) and horse (Equus sp.). This is in contrast with the mostly modern herpetofauna from the same site. The mammalian fauna of Cumberland Cave is also characteristic of colder (e.g. wolverine, Gulo gidleyi) and mixed forest-grassland habitat (e.g. badger, Taxidea marylandica), as might be expected from the Pleistocene pollen evidence from the region. It may be important to note that the Pleistocene age of the fauna at Cumberland Cave is interpreted from the mammalian fossil assemblage and not from direct evidence such as radiocarbon dating.

10,500 BP

Holocene (10,500 BP to present) vegetation at The Glades moved toward a mixed conifer-hardwood forest, beginning with a sharp increase in white pine and birch that indicates a warming climate. Hemlock pollen was for the first time consistently represented. At about 5,000 BP deciduous trees became most abundant in the pollen record, dominated by oak. Beech, chestnut and hickory attain successive maxima, while hemlock pollen percentage declines and spruce and pine are present at low levels.

It is important to remember that these pollen numbers are a percentage of total pollen, not absolute pollen amounts, so they do not necessarily represent abundance of certain species. Nor do they necessarily represent relative abundance of plant species, because pollen production and fertilization strategies (for example, wind-borne vs. insect-pollinated) vary between species.

Human presence in North America may have begun as early as 40,000 BP, and humans were in eastern North America by at least 12,000 years BP. These first Paleo-Indians were nomadic big game hunters of the Clovis culture, named for their slender fluted knife and spear points first discovered at Clovis, New Mexico. The extinction of many of North America’s large mammals, such as woolly mammoth, at the time of human expansion across the continent approximately 10,000-15,000 BP was perhaps due to a combination of hunting and climate change as ice sheets retreated. Near Meyersdale is the site of the earliest known occupation in Somerset County, at about 12,000 years BP.

In the subsequent Archaic culture, from approximately 8,000 to 3,000 BP, Native American food sources broadened to include small game, fish, and gathering of wild plants. Many specialized tools and skills were developed - dogs were domesticated, boats were constructed, cloths and baskets were woven, and ceramics were made. The earliest artifacts from a second archeological site near Myersdale date to this period.

With the beginning of the Middle Archaic (8,500-5,000 BP) a regional Native American population increase is evident, with artifact sites now at major and minor floodplains, swamp margins, open valleys, major and minor ridges, and stream headwater zones (Wall, 1981). During this time, Native American projectile points changed, and this is believed to indicate a shift toward exploitation of a greater variety of habitats, at approximately the same time that deciduous forest and associated fauna were increasing. The newer, “Kirk,” points tend to be made of local rather than imported materials, and are increasingly found on upland as well as floodplain and swamp sites (Wall, 1981).

By the Late Archaic (5,000-3,000 BP), land use patterns intensified, with increased emphasis on the floodplains of these three rivers. With the beginning of the Woodland Period, around 3,000 BP, the variety and number of sites used by Native Americans drastically decreased, with activity confined to larger wetlands and floodplains. This may be the result of a shift to a more agricultural existence and de-emphasis on hunting (Wall, 1981).

The Monongahela Woodland Culture flourished in western Pennsylvania from 1,100 to 400 BP. Three Somerset County archeological sites near Myersdale represent this culture (Boyd, 2000; Stahl, 2002). Villages had several houses with attached storage pits, and an open plaza. Villages were surrounded by log palisades. Foods included domesticated squash beans, corn and sunflower, as well as acorn, black walnut, butternut and hickory hulls. Animal remains included rattlesnake, turtle, salamander, fish, beaver, deer, elk, squirrel, rabbit, geese, turkey and bear.

The most recent Monongahela occupation of Somerset County ended approximately 400 years BP. By the time of European contact in western Maryland and southwestern Pennsylvania, these people had been replaced by Iroquois, Shawnee and other Native Americans. Though the underlying causes of this replacement remain uncertain, disease, declining food production related to climate, and warfare are implicated.

King Charles II of England granted William Penn a charter to establish a colony in the New World in 1681. In 1683 the first bounty was offered on wolves in the new colony. The first game law protecting deer was enacted by provincial governor Sir William Keith in 1721, allowing deer to be hunted only from July 1 to January 1.

300 BP

In 1747 a group of English Colonial investors, including Thomas Cresap and Lawrence and Augustine Washington, formed the Ohio Trading Company (Lowdermilk, 1878). The Ohio Trading Company was granted 500,000 acres between the Monongahela and Kanawha Rivers, and Christopher Gist was employed to explore the region (Lowdermilk, 1878). The Ohio Company established a fur trading post on Will’s Creek in Maryland, and conducted business with the Native Americans, but was too wary of them to establish posts further west.

Meanwhile the French began to establish military posts in the upper Ohio drainage to the north and west. In 1749 the governor of Canada sent Captain Celeron de Bienville to descend the Allegheny and Ohio Rivers, claiming for France the same lands that England claimed through John Cabot’s landing on the continent in 1497 and subsequent treaties with Iroquois Native Americans. Neither European side recognized the rights of the inhabitants, but vied for Native American friendship and assistance against their enemy.

The British sent George Washington to explore the region, encourage the friendship of the Native Americans, and to assert their claim with the French. Washington picked a site at the Forks of the Ohio, and Captain William Trent was sent to build a British fort there, at what is now Pittsburgh (Lowdermilk, 1878). But while the Fort was under construction in 1754, a large French force evicted the English and renamed the post Fort Duquesne.

This same year a British military post was established at Cumberland, to serve as the primary point from which to defend British land claims against the French. Washington, on his way west with troops to reinforce the English at the Forks of the Ohio, learned that the post had been usurped by the French. Although outnumbered, Washington pressed on and engaged a small French unit, killing its leader. While retreating, Washington’s troops were caught by French forces in western Pennsylvania at a hastily-constructed “Fort Necessity,” in nearby Fayette County and were forced to surrender. This incident is considered the beginning of the French and Indian War.

In 1755, forces under General Edward Braddock left from Fort Cumberland, building a road to haul supplies and cannon as they went. They followed a route blazed years earlier by Thomas Cresap and the Native American Nemacolin, “Nemacolin’s Trail,” which passed through southern Somerset County. This road eventually became the “National Road,” now US Rt. 40. Although Braddock met with a disastrous defeat near Fort Duquesne at the hands of French and Indian forces, the British of course eventually prevailed in their claim over the central portion of the continent. The Forbes Road, now the Lincoln Highway (US Rt. 30), was begun in 1758 during another English march that re-took Ft. Duquesne.

After Braddock’s defeat and until the fall of Ft. Duquesne in 1758 there were raids by Native Americans against European settlers across the Appalachian Plateau, including massacres and kidnappings. During this time there were no settlers in what is now Somerset County (Cassady, 1932). After hostilities subsided, the first permanent European settlers came to the central Appalachian Plateau. According to early travelers in Somerset County, John Miller’s family was present on Allegheny Mountain prior to 1762 (Cassady, 1932). Fort Stony Creek was also and established settlement in 1762.

In 1767 English surveyors Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon established Pennsylvania’s southern boundary, now called the Mason-Dixon Line. In 1768 western Pennsylvania was ceded to Thomas and Richard Penn by the Iroquois at Fort Stanwix, New York, for 10,000 English pounds.

Harmon Husband, one of the settlers who established the village of Somerset, made his first journey to the region in 1771, passing through Cumberland on his way west. During the period of the American Revolution there were scattered Native American raids again across the area, though no major hostilities between British and Colonial forces in the region.

Buffalo were extirpated from the Somerset County area sometime in the early 1800’s. The last ones killed at a lake south of Berlin

Somerset County was established in 1779, from western Bedford County. By the 1790’s there were sawmills in Somerset County. In 1795 there were 868 farms (Cassady, 1932).

In 1779 there was a “Great Snow,” during which it snowed almost continuously for 40 days (Cassady, 1932). Average snow depth was between four and five feet. In 1782 the Bald Eagle was adopted as our national emblem (Pennsylvania Game Commission).

By 1800 there were 10,188 people in Somerset County (Cassady, 1932). When Somerset County was established in 1795 there were 868 farms, and by 1832 there were 3,341. They grew primarily corn, wheat, oats, rye, buckwheat, potatoes, alfalfa and hay. The Somerset Agricultural Society was formed in 1858.

The property that is now the Kimberly Run Preserve appears in an 1813 survey as land owned by Richard Brown (Somerset County Tax Records, Vol 2 p 84,No. 969). Kimberly Run is illustrated but unnamed, and Rt. 219 appears as the “Road from Somerset to Cumberland”. A deed of a portion of this land transferred from Brown to Peter Kimmel in 1813 gives some hints as to the vegetation of the area, referring to a “pine,” “plum,” chestnut,” and two “white oak” trees serving as boundary markers.

Somerset County’s first schools were in Addison Township in 1834. Wolves were apparently gone from Somerset County by 1840 (Cassady, 1932). The first coal was mined in Somerset County in 1810, with commercial coal mining beginning in 1872 near Myersdale.

In 1846 the Somerset County House of Employment or “Poor House” opened on what is now Rt. 31 north of the Kimberly Run Preserve (Koontz, 1906; Figure 3). Benjamin Kimmell, Absalom Casebeer and Joseph Imhoff were the first directors, and they purchased a 265-acre farm known as “Fairview” to support the residents.

Figure 3. Postcard of House of Employment (Poor House),

Somerset County, PA, from Obaker.

150 BP

Pollen records from The Glades from 150 years ago to the present show evidence of logging and farming associated with European settlement of the region. Ragweed (Ambrosia) pollen increased and plantain pollen appeared, an indication of increased openings and soil disturbance, while beech, hickory and oak showed decreasing percentages. Grasses and sedges continued to show consistent presence.

By 1850 there were 24,416 people in Somerset County. In 1855 the county’s first iron furnace was built at Wellersburg (Cassady, 1932). An unusually late hard frost occurred on June 4th, 1859.

In 1871 the Pittsburgh and Connellsville Railroad (now the Baltimore and Ohio) was completed through the county. Another railroad bed was built in the 1880’s by WilliamVanderbuilt, which became the foundation for the Pennsylvania Turnpike.1873 saw the first restrictions on hunting roosting passenger pigeons or discharging a firearm within a quarter-mile of a passenger pigeon colony.

early logging

With regard to timber resources, initial logging on the Appalachian Plateau had proceeded slowly, in part due to the slow pace of water-driven sawmills, and lumber was cut mostly for local use. But logging accelerated with the arrival of the steam-powered, mobile mill in the early 1800’s. By 1848 in Somerset County there were two large-scale commercial sawmills at Ashtola and Kennels Mills.

The land now in the Kimberly Run Preserve appears on an 1876 map of Somerset County as part of D. Casebeer's Tract of 1,600 acres in the Plank Road District No. 5 (Figure 4; Koontz, 1906). A steam sawmill and nearby house are located on “Kimberlins Run” just before it crosses the road that is now Rt. 219, suggesting that there may have been significant logging in the vicinity. On what is now Menser Road is a “limestone quarry” and a “maple camp,” and further up in the watershed are a couple of “coal banks” indicating surface mines.

Figure 4. Part of Somerset County in 1876 (Koontz 1906)

A statewide “scalp act” was passed in 1885 to increase bounties on weasels, hawks and owls, but was repealed two years later because of bounty fraud and complaints about bird slaughter. 180,000 hawks and owls had been killed. In 1896 the state’s first Game Commissioners were appointed.

At the turn of the Century the commercial logging boom was in full swing with the beginning of the E.V. Babcock Lumber Company mill. The Somerset County population in 1900 was 49,416.

In 1898 The Somerset County House of Employment was re-opened as the Somerset County Hospital for patients who were mentally ill (Lepley, 1996).

The county’s first firetower, at Bald Knob, was erected by the Pennsylvania Department of Forests and Waters in 1913. The following year, the last passenger pigeon died in captivity at the Cincinnati Zoo.

In 1920 the first State Game Lands, 6,288 acres, were purchased in Elk County. Pennsylvania’s first antlerless deer season took place in two Franklin County townships in 1923. The Bakersville Trout Nursery was established in 1925.

A severe drought occurred in Somerset County from May 1930 until March 1931. That same year, the ruffed grouse became the official state game bird. Gypsy moths first appeared in the state in 1932, defoliating trees in parts of Lackawanna and Luzerne Counties.

In 1934 the first beaver trapping season in 31 years took place. Laurel Hill State Park was established in 1935, as well as the federal Soil Conservation Service.

By 1946 the Somerset State Hospital had 365 acres under cultivation to help feed its approximately 500 patients. This institution was closed in 1979 and eventually became the site for a new state prison.

The PA turnpike, which passes through the northern portion of the Kimberly Run watershed, was opened for traffic in 1935.

A Pennsylvania rabies outbreak caused 241 reported cases of the disease in 1951. The US Fish & Wildlife Service was established in 1956. In 1961 Pennsylvania’s state’s first deer check station was operated.

“Project 70” to provide state funds for community conservation programs was approved by Pennsylvania voters in 1962. The federal Clean Air Act became law in 1970, the US Endangered Species Act in 1973, and the Clean Water Act in 1977.


Forest now covers approximately 65% of Somerset County land, at 446,200 acres (Alerich, 1993). The most common forest type is oak/hickory (57%), followed by northern hardwoods (34%), and with small percentages of pine, spruce and oak/pine. The timber industry owns just over 1% of this forest land, farmers 13%, and state and local governments 17%, but most of this land, 69%, is owned by undetermined types of private landowners.

In 2001 the Somerset County Conservancy purchased a 260-acre parcel of surplus state land at Kimberly Run (Figure 5). This culminated an effort of several years, and was achieved with the assistance and support of the Somerset County Commissioners and state legislators - State Representative’s William Lloyd, Bob Bastian, State Senator Richard A. Kasunic, and County Commissioners James C. Marker, Brad Cober and Pamela Tokar-Ickes.

Figure 5. Kimberly Run Preserve. Map by Emily White.

Following the land acquisition, SCC applied for a matching grant for preserve planning, called a Community Conservation Partnership Grant, through the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation & Natural Resources. Grant funding was approved in 2002.

In 2003 SCC purchased a small, undeveloped property along two-lane Rt. 219, in order to keep open options for future preserve access from the west. The tract (map # 012-144-002) is 0.723 acres. Also in 2003, Kimberly Run Preserve was designated as one of Pennsylvania’s Important Mammal Areas (IMA) by the Pennsylvania Biological Survey.


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