The Juniata Cooperative Weed Management Area (JCWMA) has been formed to address the threats of existing and emerging invasive plant species in the Juniata watershed by pulling together partners for coordinated management. The term Cooperative Weed Management Area (CWMA) refers to a local organization that integrates invasive plant management resources across jurisdictional boundaries to benefit the entire community. A CWMA is led by a steering committee and is formally organized under an agreement. The goals of a CWMA are to facilitate cooperation among partner organizations and to network across jurisdictional boundaries. The CWMA concept has taken off in recent years and there are currently numerous CWMAs operating throughout the United States. A current map of CWMAs in the U.S. is available at https://www.naisn.org/cwmamap/.
The Juniata Cooperative Weed Management Area is geographically defined as the lands and waters in the Juniata River watershed, located in south-central Pennsylvania, encompassing 3,405 square miles, and all or parts of 12 counties. The watershed is bordered by the West Branch of the Susquehanna on the north, the Susquehanna River on the east, the Potomac River to the south and the Ohio River to the west. A majority of the watershed is in Bedford, Blair, Fulton, Huntingdon, Juniata, Mifflin, and Perry counties, but also includes portions of Cambria, Centre, Franklin, Snyder and Somerset counties. All together, there are 200 municipal political subdivisions.
The Juniata watershed is approximately 67 percent forested, 23 percent agriculture, 7 percent developed, and the rest is comprised of mine lands, water, or miscellaneous. Developed uses include residential, commercial, and industrial areas as well as utility lines, railroads, and highways. Most of the forestland in the Juniata watershed exists on or near the mountain ridges. These forests include oak, hickory, maple, beech, birch, elm, ash, red maple, white pine, aspen, and Virginia pine. A very large portion of the Juniata watershed has been logged. Heavy logging occurred in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. From 1890 to the mid 1920s, most forests were completely clear-cut; therefore, although most of the area is forested, it represents secondary successional growth. Lumbering still remains a major industry in the watershed. Major managed forestlands exist in Rothrock, Bald Eagle, Tuscarora, and Buchanan State Forests. Agriculture is the second largest land use (23 percent) in the watershed, and is generally confined to the valley bottoms. Approximately 14 percent of this land is considered “prime farmland” by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, defined as “land that has the best combination of physical and chemical characteristics for producing food, feed, forage, fiber, and oilseed crops and is available for these uses” (USDA, 1998).
Central Pennsylvania has abundant wildlife, and the Juniata watershed is no exception. The abundance of forestland interspersed with plentiful farmland and water sources creates a diversity of habitat types that favors many species, including most Pennsylvania game species. White-tailed deer and wild turkey are the most significant game species in the region, but other important game species include black bear, gray squirrel, Eastern cottontail rabbit, and woodchuck. Fur-bearing species that can be trapped and/or hunted include beaver, muskrat, red fox, gray fox, raccoon, opossum, skunk, various species of weasel, and coyote (PA Game Commission, 1999). Approximately 50 species of mammals live in the watershed, including species such as the bobcat, porcupine and small mammals such as bats (nine species), mice, rats, voles (12 species), and shrews (eight species) (USACOE, 1995). Large numbers of birds live in the Juniata watershed, including songbirds, waterfowl, and raptors. Out of 211 breeding bird species in Pennsylvania, 172 species of birds live and breed in the watershed. Reptiles and amphibians are the less glamorous and sometimes feared members of the Juniata watershed faunal community. Approximately 10 species of snakes live in the watershed, including two poisonous species: the northern copperhead and the timber rattlesnake. Eight species of turtles and lizards and 20 species of amphibians fill out the cold-blooded contingent, including bullfrogs, wood frogs, and the American toad (USACOE, 1995).
Approximately two-thirds of the Juniata watershed is forested, although this was not always the case. Prior to European settlement, the amount of forestland was greater, as only a few scattered areas were cleared for agriculture. The predominant natural forest zone in the watershed is Appalachian Oak Forest, with small areas of Northern Hardwoods interspersed throughout the dominant zone of oaks (Merritt, 1987). Major forest associations in the watershed include oak-hickory, maple-beech-birch, and elm-ash-red maple. Deciduous trees are predominant, although stands of hemlock and pine are scattered throughout the landscape. Other common trees and shrubs include flowering dogwood, tulip poplar, wild cherries, shadbush, witch hazel, and mountain laurel.
The Pennsylvania Natural Diversity Inventory (PNDI) is a site-specific information system that tracks species of special concern as well as unusual or unique habitats. PNDI is a cooperative effort of the PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR), the Nature Conservancy, and the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy. One hundred eighteen species of special concern and 12 important features are identified in the Juniata watershed (PA DCNR, 1999). Most of the species of concern are terrestrial plants, although a few animals are on the list as well.
Sampling taken by the PA Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) from 1975 to 1995 identified 63 species of fish (not counting Threatened and Endangered species) in the Juniata watershed (Argent, 1998). In addition to fish, aquatic macroinvertebrates make up an important part of the aquatic ecosystems in the watershed. Approximately 119 different macroinvertebrate taxa live in the watershed, including mayflies, caddisflies, stoneflies, dobsonflies, damselflies, horseflies, black flies, and mosquitoes, as well as water beetles, crayfish, and worms (USACOE, 1995).