GLRI funds expand wildlife reserve

along Lake Erie

Nearly 300 acres of public land were added to the David M. Roderick Wildlife Reserve on the shores of Lake Erie in northern Pennsylvania.


The David M. Roderick Reserve is a 3,600-acre natural area on the Lake Erie shoreline, adjacent to Erie Bluffs State Park.  Prior to becoming a nature reserve, the property was owned by Andrew Carnegie and, later, U.S. Steel Corp. At one time, Carnegie planned to build a steel mill at the site, but those plans changed in the 1960s. After U.S. Steel acquired the property, former company CEO David M. Roderick — an avid outdoorsman and conservation advocate — sold the property to the Mellon Foundation. The foundation turned the property over to the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, which established the David M. Roderick Wildlife Reserve in 1991 and sold it to the Pennsylvania Game Commission.  Located near the Pennsylvania-Ohio border, the reserve was established to provide recreational opportunities such as hunting, fishing, birding, cross-country skiing, hiking and other activities. The property is home to numerous species of birds, game species and plants found only along the Lake Erie shoreline. The state-endangered variegated scouring rush and the state-threatened small-headed rush grow in the steep bluffs above the Lake Erie beach. Wooded areas at the reserve feature lake-plain swamp forests, which are flat woodlands with interconnected vernal pools. The dominant tree species in the area is state-endangered pumpkin ash. Since 2010, two parcels of land totaling 297 acres were added to the reserve. The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, the Erie Community Foundation, and the Pennsylvania Game Commission funded the land acquisitions, which cost a total of $1,250,000. The multiyear project protected about 136 acres of wetlands, 780 feet of Lake Erie shoreline and 1,525 feet along Elk Creek, a high-quality stream that supports a thriving steelhead fishery.

Resource Challenges Addressed

  • Lack of native habitat
  • Lack of nearshore habitat


Water lilies on a lake

Wetland areas, like the one pictured above, provide important wildlife habitat for fish and plants. Credit: Courtney Celley U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Results and Accomplishments

The two land acquisitions added 297 acres to the David M. Roderick Wildlife Reserve, which increased public access to the Lake Erie shoreline and ensured the protection of valuable fish and wildlife habitat.