Golden eagles fly high above Musser Gap on the western slope of Tussey Mountain, making their way back to Canada during their annual spring migration. In fact, more golden eagles migrate along Tussey Mountain each spring than any other location east of the Mississippi River.
Yet the critical habitat that Musser Gap provides the eagles and other migratory birds was almost lost. The 423-acre property in Centre County was slated for development. Construction of roads and homes would have destroyed this valuable natural landscape.
Fortunately, ClearWater Conservancy worked with numerous partners and received a Keystone Fund grant to fund the acquisition of the land. By preserving Musser Gap, ClearWater not only protected an important habitat for golden eagles and other wildlife, but also helped to safeguard the drinking water for more than 40,000 residents in the State College region.
Water from Musser Gap feeds into the Spring Creek Watershed, which means that the Gap is a primary contributor to groundwater recharge in the Watershed. The proposed residential development and septic system was especially concerning after site-specific testing showed that the transit time for pollutants entering the drinking water system from the Gap is only two weeks.
In addition to funding from the Keystone Fund, the acquisition was made possible by support from the Pennsylvania Bureau of Forestry; the State College Borough Water Authority; Ferguson, College, Harris, Halfmoon and Patton townships; State College Borough; the Sierra Club’s Huplits Foundation; and Altrusa International of Centre County.