WPC Logo
Water, Land, Life
WPC enewsletter

May 2011

Western Pennsylvania Conservancy and Ligonier Camp
and Conference Center Partner to Conserve Land and Water

The McVicker property.

Two farms and property owned by the Ligonier Camp and Conference Center (LCCC) in Ligonier Township, Westmoreland County are permanently protected through conservation easements completed yesterday by the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy (WPC).

"These easements will protect three important places in the Ligonier community," said Tom Saunders, president and CEO of the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy. "The farm easements will conserve prime agricultural land and all three will help protect the undeveloped, scenic character of the valley."

These three most recent conservation outcomes build upon the Conservancy's longstanding focus on the Ligonier Valley, bringing total acres conserved since 1979 to more than 8,000.

The two farms will be protected under agricultural conservation easements, voluntary agreements with landowners that keep property in private hands while permanently restricting future uses to farming or sustainable forestry. WPC acquired the easements in collaboration with the Westmoreland County Agricultural Lands Preservation Board (WCALP), which will assume stewardship responsibilities for the easements.

The Donovan property.

Kevin and Debra McVicker own more than 139-acres of picturesque sloping hills that roll through Westmoreland County. Their farm is one of several highly visible farms that surround Ligonier Township. The land includes a section of Hanna's Run, a tributary that drains into Upper Loyalhanna Creek.

The second farm is a 48-acre property owned by sisters, Julie and Ann Donovan that includes a house, barns and outbuildings. The property shares about one mile of the Loyalhanna Creek with the Camp and Conference Center property.

"My sister and I appreciate the Conservancy's commitment toward the preservation of our great-grandfather's farm, which is one of the Ligonier Valley's original homesteads," said Julie Donovan. "I think that it is especially important that this beautiful land which is located along a main entrance to Ligonier will remain intact."

The conservation tool used by the LCCC, a donated conservation easement, provides the property owner with the best of both worlds: continued private ownership and permanent protection of the land's conservation values. The privately owned 58-acre property, which is used for camp operations, includes 2,000 feet of stream frontage and is easily viewed from Route 30.

The property is also historically significant. The pond on the property was constructed in the 1880s for ice harvesting. The harvested ice was stored in an icehouse, and in the summer was shipped to Pittsburgh by train. A spur of the Ligonier Valley Railroad once ran around the lake.

The LCCC property.

The conservation easement not only ensures that this land will be conserved for the benefit of future generations, it also protects water quality in the upper Loyalhanna Creek watershed. It is located next to several other conserved properties in the Laurel Highlands, so it expands the zone of protected lands and serves as a link between them. These broader swaths of conserved lands and waterways also benefit wildlife by safeguarding habitats.

"We greatly appreciate the McVicker and Donovan families as well as our friends from Ligonier Camp and Conference Center for their help in adding to the Conservancy's conservation efforts in the Ligonier Valley," said Mike Kuzemchak, the Laurel Highlands Project Director at WPC.

These beautiful properties, which reflect the rural character of the Ligonier Valley, fall within the Conservancy's Laurel Highlands conservation priority area. Close to 82,000 acres are already protected by WPC in the Laurel Highlands.

The easements 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. Additional information can be obtained by contacting the Conservancy at 412-288-2777 or at land@paconserve.org or by contacting the Laurel Highlands Regional Office at 724-238-2492 or laurelhighlands@paconserve.org.

 e-newsletter Home  | Western Pennsylvania Conservancy | Fallingwater