Many in and around Erie County are familiar with the beauty and recreational experiences of the Asbury Woods Nature Complex. Located in Millcreek Township and established in 1957, Asbury Woods includes an environmental education center, historic barn and 205 natural acres with 4.5 miles of nature trails.
The Asbury Woods Partnership, Inc. preserves the woods and provides meaningful environmental, educational and recreational experiences to nearly 20,000 students and an estimated 100,000 visitors annually. The partnership has invested thousands of dollars in improvements to the trails and facilities of the complex.
To further expand these opportunities, the partnership desired to purchase adjacent farmland, Brown’s Farm, and a nature center on approximately 110 acres. Knowing the properties and land were important to permanently protect, the organization needed to quickly secure the remaining funding for the purchase. So, the partnership sought a $350,000 loan from the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy’s Colcom Revolving Fund for Land Trusts to assist with the transaction.
The partnership acquired the additional properties in January 2016 and held a ribbon cutting on July 25, 2016, with representatives from the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR), Western Pennsylvania Conservancy (WPC), Erie County, state elected officials and other key partners.
“This is a great example of how our Colcom Revolving Fund for Local Land Trusts can support organizations’ efforts to protect land and important community assets that have great educational and recreational value,” said Mike Kuzemchak, WPC’s director of operations for land protection, who spoke at the event. “This fund is designed to help organizations acquire property before permanent funding is secured. Thanks to Colcom Foundation, we’re pleased to administer funds whenever possible to support land conservation projects.”
The fund provides land trusts and other organizations throughout Western Pennsylvania with short-term access to funding for critical land conservation needs. Made possible in 2009 through generous grants totaling $1 million from Colcom Foundation, the loan fund also allows Conservancy staff members to provide technical assistance to participating organizations, as needed, to help ensure successful project outcomes.
The Conservancy offers flexible loan terms to approved applicants, including a limited opportunity of a zero percent interest rate for the first six to 12 months of a loan term. For more information about the revolving fund, please contact Mike Kuzemchak at email@example.com or 724-238-2492.
Funding for the Asbury Woods project was also provided by DCNR, Millcreek Township Supervisors, Asbury Woods’ Capital Campaign and Erie County.