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Water, Land, Life
WPC enewsletter

February 2010

Donations of Conservation Easements to WPC Protect Valuable Natural Areas

Due to the actions of conservation-minded landowners, several scenic properties in the Laurel Highlands region and one property in Mifflin County have been permanently conserved. The landowners have donated conservation easements to WPC to ensure their properties retain their scenic beauty, protect wildlife and safeguard water sources for generations to come.

“These donors are all owners of magnificent farm or forest properties, who want to know that their properties will be conserved forever,” said Tom Saunders, President and CEO of the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy. “They will continue to own them and use them as they do now, and can sell them in the future or pass them on to their heirs. But they will know that there is a conservation easement, a permanent deed restriction, in place so the property will stay in its natural state over the generations.”

Conservation easements are voluntary legal agreements between the landowner and WPC that limit the type and amount of development that may take place on a property. Typically, landowners realize tax deductions through these arrangements.

The newly conserved properties protect important waterways, forests and farmland, as well as safeguard wildlife habitat and scenic views. They include:

The Raphael Property - 55 acres in Black Township, Somerset County. The Great Allegheny Passage bicycle and pedestrian trail passes through this property, which includes 1500 feet of frontage on the Casselman River, a major tributary to the Youghiogheny River. A conservation easement donated by landowner Catherine Raphael permits sustainable agriculture and timber harvesting activities on the land while limiting subdivision, development and commercial activity. Permanent protection of this land not only conserves an ecologically significant watershed, it also preserves scenic views for trail users on the Great Allegheny Passage.


The Stitt Property - 60 acres in Donegal Township, Westmoreland County. Donated by Don Stitt, this easement limits subdivision, development and commercial activity to protect low-elevation forestland as well as the Four Mile Run watershed, a major tributary to the Upper Loyalhanna Creek. Protection of this property supports the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy’s efforts to conserve and restore forests that link parts of Laurel Ridge with Chestnut Ridge. Located along the Route 711 corridor, a state scenic byway, the easement is in close proximity to several other properties that are already under easement with WPC.


The Laskow Property - 78 acres in Donegal Township, Westmoreland County. Mark and Lisa Laskow have donated a conservation easement on this property, which is situated within the headwaters of Indian Creek – a priority watershed in the Laurel Highlands. Located near more than 3,000 acres of properties conserved by WPC through easements, as well as large portions of Forbes State Forest, the newly conserved land protects valuable forestland and scenic views of the Ligonier Valley. Sustainable agriculture and timber harvesting will be permitted. Since 2004, the property has been managed under a forest stewardship plan as part of a voluntary program that helps forestland owners improve and maintain the ecological health of their land.


The Williams Property - 195 acres in Granville Township, Mifflin County. This easement, donated by Rick and Mindy Williams, prohibits subdivision and restricts development on land that sits atop Jacks Mountain. The property provides shelter for numerous wildlife species, including birds, ruffed grouse, wild turkey and black bears. It also contains outstanding habitat for timber rattlesnakes, a priority species for protection in Pennsylvania.




The easement donations to WPC reflect a growing trend in the Laurel Highlands and nationwide, as more private landowners learn about the effectiveness of conservation easements in safeguarding cherished family lands. The Conservancy has been working with landowners for decades to establish conservation easements tailored to meet their objectives, and has helped to usher in the significant increase in use of this proven conservation method in Western Pennsylvania.

The Western Pennsylvania Conservancy welcomes inquiries from landowners interested in learning more about conservation easements. For more information, please contact the Conservancy at 412-288-2777 or at land@paconserve.org. In the Laurel Highlands, please call 724-238-2492 or email laurelhighlands@paconserve.org.

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