"Our Shared Legacy"

Land and Water Protection and Restoration

Mountain laurel blooms in Bear Run Nature Reserve in Fayette County, Pa. 
Photo courtesy of Greg Funka.
Mountain laurel blooms in Bear Run Nature Reserve in Fayette County, Pa.
Photo courtesy of Greg Funka.

To conserve land and water at an unprecedented pace, the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy needs significant “opportunity” funds.

Opportunity funds for land conservation provide flexible capital needed to cover the up-front costs associated with land conservation projects, such as staff time to research and negotiate the deal, due diligence costs and appraisals. These funds will allow the Conservancy to respond to opportunities as they arise and provide the capital necessary to effectively close transactions. Because some of the opportunity funds are reimbursed after a property is conserved, the fund’s scope and strength are magnified.

The Watershed Conservation Program offers services and assistance to local watershed groups, businesses, farmers and individual landowners. Since the beginning, demand for this assistance has been very high. By building watershed conservation opportunity funds, the Conservancy will increase on-the-ground work to reach a goal of 1,500 additional stream miles conserved over a ten-year period. These funds will provide critical matching sources for the Conservancy to work with local watershed groups and landowners to improve their streams.

The Western Pennsylvania Conservancy stewards a total of 226 properties, 168 of which are covered by easements. Currently, the Conservancy’s endowment set aside for this work totals $800,000. Land Trust Alliance standards for an organization of WPC’s size and scope indicate a need for a more significant stewardship endowment. The Conservancy must raise significant additional funds to ensure that these conserved lands are maintained and monitored properly, both now and in the future.

Our achievements, so far, include funding for:

  • • Eight conservation opportunity funds;
  • • Enhanced land stewardship endowment;
  • • Endowment for scientific research;
  • • Support for Marcellus and Utica Shale research and science; and
  • • Funding for riparian tree plantings in significant watersheds.

The campaign has already allowed the Conservancy to protect a last key legacy inholding along the Clarion River, acquire land to connect the Fort Necessity National Battlefield with Forbes State Forest and protect a 900-acre working forest easement property in the Laurel Highlands. It also has provided funds for an ambitious monitoring project related to shale gas development.

Overall Goal $22.8 million
Land Conservation Opportunity Fund - $10.3 million
Stewardship Endowment for Land Management and Restoration - $3.3 million
Watershed Conservation Opportunity Fund to restore 1,500 miles of rivers and streams - $3.3 million
Conservation Programs Operating Funds - $5.9 million over 3 years