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Natural History Atlas

atlas-coverA key environmental issue of the Chautauqua-Allegheny biophysical region is the conservation of woodlands, wetlands and other natural environments, the sum of which sustain its scenic beauty, water quality and environmental health. As tourism continues to play an increasing role in the economic life of the Chautauqua-Allegheny region, the Roger Tory Peterson Institute plays a key role addressing the need of our community to understand the direct relationship between the health of our region’s ecosystems and the health of our economy while promoting the natural world as a tourist destination in itself.

As part of our work in this area, in 2001 RTPI published a Natural History Atlas to the Chautauqua-Allegheny Region, culminating several years of environmental education work through a matching grant from the Annenberg Rural Challenge. The printed version of the Atlas has long been sold out but you can access it in full here on our website in downloadable PDF form:

RTPI Natural History Atlas Part 1 – Natural History Chapters
RTPI Natural History Atlas Part 2 – Lake Erie Plain & Portage Escarpment
RTPI Natural History Atlas Part 3 – Chautauqua Region
RTPI Natural History Atlas Part 4 – Allegheny Region

To view a Google map of all Atlas sites please visit this link.

Production of this electronic version of RTPI’s Natural History Atlas to the Chautauqua-Allegheny Region was made possible through support from the Center for the Study of Art, Architecture, History & Nature (C-SAAHN) Fund at the Community Foundation of Greater Buffalo, the DeFrees Family Foundation and the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation.

We are currently updating the Atlas fully with fresh data, information, photos, videos and accounts that we will publish digitally as our staff will be repeatedly visiting every single site and many additional locations. Stay tuned for updates and developments, and the below sites will be updated continually as well:

Lake Erie Plain:
Barcelona Harbor
Dunkirk Harbor
Point Gratiot Park

Portage Escarpment:
College Lodge

Conewango Creek Watershed:
Akeley Swamp

Cassadaga Creek Watershed:
Clay Pond Wildlife Management Area
Stockton State Forest

Chautauqua Lake Watershed:
Cheney Road Marsh
Dobbins Woods Preserve
North Harmony State Forest

Chadakoin River Watershed:
Roger Tory Peterson Institute

Middle Allegheny River Watershed:
Buckaloons Recreation Area
Hearts Content Natural Area
Washington Park/Point Park

Originally intended as a tool for educators to identify field trip destinations that exemplify the ecology of the region, the Atlas also became a highly popular environmental education resource for the general public by educating them to know and appreciate the great natural legacy we share. It introduced the region’s unique and fascinating natural history with chapters on local geology, weather, waterways, and wildlife, and led the reader on an illustrated tour of some 70 sites that exemplify our natural world. Detailed descriptions, photographs, and maps explained the significance of these places and told exactly how to get there. The Atlas generated unprecedented visitation to nature preserves; many readers declared their goal to visit every one of the places described. Many of these preserves, owned by small modestly funded nature organizations and land trusts, were largely unknown prior to the Atlas. Persons who visited these gems – old growth forest tracts, wetlands, scenic overlooks, gorges – came to value and desire to protect them. Tourists who used the Atlas came to know this as a region of unique natural treasures and of citizens who understand and value the environment.