A 168-acre property in the Borough of Franklin Park, which is in the Big Sewickley Creek watershed and located near a popular community park, is now permanently protected with the help of a loan to the Allegheny Land Trust (ALT) from the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy’s Colcom Revolving Fund for Land Trusts.
This protected property in Allegheny County was previously identified as prime land for residential development. The property, located within the Big and Little Sewickley Creek Landscape Conservation Area, includes steep forested slopes, 3,000 linear feet of frontage on Big Sewickley Creek, deep wooded ravines, trails and many springs that support the creek.
ALT knew that this was an important property to protect and needed to quickly secure the remaining funding to purchase it while they awaited pending state funding. So, ALT secured a $400,000 loan from the Colcom Revolving Fund for Land Trusts to fill the funding gap and acquired the property in mid-December 2015. The property is available to the public for general outdoor recreation activities such as hiking, bird and wildlife watching, and fishing.
“We’re grateful for the opportunity created by Colcom and WPC to borrow funds in the name of protecting local green space,” said President and CEO Christopher J. Beichner. “Finding projects like this is becoming increasingly rare, and the ability to borrow funds to meet contract deadlines has now resulted in a wonderful asset for the surrounding communities. ALT had never needed to secure a loan in its history, but the Colcom Revolving Fund for Local Land Trusts kept us from jeopardizing a vulnerable local project. For that, ALT and, most importantly, the Franklin Park community are grateful.”
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 the 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.
“This is a great example of how the fund can support local land trusts’ efforts to protect and restore natural or valuable land,” said Mike Kuzemchak, WPC’s director of operations – land protection. “This fund is designed to help organizations acquire property before permanent funding is secured. Thanks to the Colcom Foundation, we’re pleased to administer it and help support our region.”
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.