Our Shared Legacy

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We are grateful for every generous gift that will help the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy achieve its goals.

Man Standing by a River

WPC’s commitment to protect the land, water and life of the region could not continue without the support of members. To find out more, email members@paconserve.org.

Kathleen and Dennis Kunz's Story

Pictured is Kathleen Kunz's daughter, Abby, and son-in-law Chris.

Living near Hells Run in Lawrence County was ideal for Kathleen Kunz and her late husband Dennis. Although the name sounds imposing, Hells Run is actually a healthy tributary to Slippery Rock Creek and surrounded by a beautiful and lush forest. Kathleen reflects, “It was always important to Denny and me to live in an area surrounded by trees and nature.”

As newlyweds, Kathleen and Dennis had searched for forested properties where they could harvest trees to heat their home. They were both delighted when Dennis found their property, nestled in the area where he and his father often hunted and adjacent to McConnells Mill State Park. Over several years, Dennis built their house – complete with a wood-burning fireplace – himself on the land that they loved.

Over more than three decades, they raised their two children there and enjoyed the peaceful surroundings (and the occasional bear encounter) that go hand-in-hand with living in the woods. Kathleen has fond memories of raising her family there, and wanted to ensure that the land would retain its natural state. By donating a conservation easement to the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy in 2012, Kathleen and her family have protected its future.

A Western Pennsylvania Conservancy conservation easement is a voluntary legal agreement between the Conservancy and a private landowner. It permanently limits future uses of the property in order to protect its conservation value while enabling the land to remain privately owned. Every easement is tailored to the property and to the interests of the landowner.

Conserving the property was a multigenerational decision: Kathleen’s daughter and son-in-law, who will likely inherit the property, wholeheartedly supported her plan to donate a conservation easement to WPC. “We agree that this is a good way to make sure the land stays in a natural state. That’s our top priority,” said Kathleen.

Kathleen’s 40-acre property, adjacent to McConnells Mill State Park and Slippery Rock Gorge, features a forest full of wildlife and a tributary to Hells Run, which is a tributary to one of the most pristine streams in the state, Slippery Rock Creek. It builds upon one of WPC’s most significant conservation projects that resulted in the creation of McConnells Mill, now a National Natural Landmark.

Along with her generous donation of the conservation easement, Kathleen supported the Conservancy’s Benjamin Thomas Holland Memorial Fund, which will ensure the long-term stewardship of the parcel. Her foresight both will protect her land permanently and enable the Conservancy to ensure that what’s special about the property is there in perpetuity. We are grateful for the Kunz family’s significant impact on the Conservancy’s work, and for their foresight in preserving their stunning property for future generations.

Our success will be our collective legacy, a testament to foresight and commitment to the natural resources entrusted to us.

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