Plant Communities of Pennsylvania

Wednesday, August 3, 2016 • 9:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m.
Laurel Highlands Falls Area Visitor Center • Ohiopyle State Park
124 Main Street • Ohiopyle, Pennsylvania  15470

Instructors: Ephraim Zimmerman, Ecological Assessment Manager, Pennsylvania Natural Heritage Program, and
Greg Podniesinski, Director, Pennsylvania Natural Heritage Program

Cost: $195.00/person. Register here! Space is limited. A student rate of $125 is available.
Use the form below to contact us for the student code. You’ll be asked to provide a copy of your current student ID. Register online with the code you receive for the student rate.

Plant communities are assemblages of plant species sharing a common physical environment that interact with each other and with animal populations. Communities are often defined by dominant plant species. These plant associations provide useful habitat information and provide an efficient starting point for biological surveys. Plant communities tend to co-occur on the landscape due to shared environmental requirements. This co-occurrence provides the basis for mapping distinct units on the landscape for use in land management and conservation planning.

The Pennsylvania Natural Heritage Program developed a standard classification of plant communities called the Terrestrial and Palustrine Plant Communities of Pennsylvania ( This classification has been “crosswalked” (translated and compared) to the National Vegetation Classification System, or “NVC”. The NVC serves as a central organizing framework for documentation, inventory, monitoring, and study of vegetation in the United States and was developed by NatureServe. This classification allows comparison of plant communities across state boundaries and from region to region at multiple scales. There is interest from land managers and environmental consultants for a workshop on plant communities and how plant community identification, description, and mapping can be applied to inventory and management activities, such as botanical field surveys and ecological restoration.

In this workshop, which will include classroom and field activities, Ephraim Zimmerman, Ecological Assessment Manager, Pennsylvania Natural Heritage Program, will lead participants in an exploration of the Pennsylvania community classification and NVC. Participants will learn how Pennsylvania Natural Heritage Program ecologists identify, describe, and map plant communities. Greg Podniesinski, Director, Pennsylvania Natural Heritage Program, will cover the regulation of natural communities and plants, how communities are treated in environmental review, and permitting processes. He will also cover how the classifications can be used in ecological management activities, as well as what environmental reviewers would like to see from consultants in terms of reporting on plant communities.

The location of our workshop will be the Laurel Highlands Falls Area Visitors Center at Ohiopyle State Park. Ferncliff Peninsula National Natural Landmark at Ohiopyle State Park will be the location of the field component of our workshop, where floodplain scour, riparian, and upland forests will be visited.

Participants will be provided with all the necessary equipment for sampling. Please bring a field notebook and anything else that you will need to walk on uneven terrain and work in inclement weather. Please also bring a lunch and water bottle. A snack, coffee, and tea will be provided.

Use this form to request the student registration rate and receive the discount code.