WPC Acquires Property Along Bennett Branch

Mon, Nov 5th 2012, 13:32. Filed under News Releases.

Benezette, Pa. – Nov. 5 – A property recently acquired by the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy (WPC) will provide public access to an Elk County stream that was once a dead, red-stained waterway but now is in the midst of recovery.

Bennett Branch

The Conservancy acquired more than 24 acres along the Bennett Branch of the Sinnemahoning River in Benezette Township. The undeveloped, forested property near State Route 555 contains 2,400 feet of stream frontage and is in the heart of the Pennsylvania Elk Range.

“By acquiring this land, we’re providing public access to a historically significant stream, ensuring future generations can enjoy fishing, boating and other outdoor recreation,” said WPC President and Chief Executive Officer Thomas D. Saunders. “The property also has the potential to provide handicap-accessible fishing areas.”

The Bennett Branch, which flows through Clearfield, Elk and Cameron counties, was once a nationally noted trout fishing stream that was a favorite of U.S. President Ulysses Grant. Acid mine drainage impacted Bennett Branch, however, and heavy metals polluted the waterway.

For more than three decades, the Bennett Branch Watershed Association has worked to remediate the stream and this acquisition builds on past projects. In 2008, the Conservancy facilitated a nearby 80-acre land purchase, on which a $14 million acid mine drainage treatment facility was built near the Clearfield-Elk County line.

The late Dr. Colson Blakeslee, who was a WPC board member, had long called for increased public access to the stream. He believed the large public investment in the remediation project also should include an initiative to develop public access to ensure residents and visitors would be able to recreate in Bennett Branch.

“This acquisition is a first step toward fulfilling Dr. Blakeslee’s vision,” said Matthew Marusiak, a land protection specialist with the Conservancy.

Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, the Headwaters RC&D Council Sinnemahoning Endowment and the Richard King Mellon Foundation provided financial support for this project.




Photos have been made available for media use at: WaterLandLife.org/dropbox/rowe_release.zip

About the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy:
The Western Pennsylvania Conservancy (WPC) enhances the region’s quality of life by protecting and restoring exceptional places. A private nonprofit conservation organization founded in 1932, WPC has helped to establish ten state parks, conserved more than 233,000 acres of natural lands and protected or restored more than 1,500 miles of rivers and streams. The Conservancy owns and operates Fallingwater, which symbolizes people living in harmony with nature. In addition, WPC enriches our region’s cities and towns through 135 community gardens and greenspaces that are planted with the help of 13,000 volunteers. The work of the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy is accomplished through the support of more than 11,000 members. For more information, visit www.WaterLandLife.org.

Media contact:
Allison Schlesinger