WPC Permanently Conserves Parcels in Ligonier Valley

Mon, May 6th 2013, 13:18. Filed under News Releases.

Ligonier, Pa. – May 6 – Two properties in Westmoreland County are not only important pieces of the Tubmill Creek watershed – a priority stream because of its rich aquatic life, including trout – but also essential in preserving the agricultural heritage of the Ligonier Valley.

And now, the Fairfield Township parcels will be permanently protected through conservation easements obtained by the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, the organization announced today. The properties totaling more than 293 acres near Pennsylvania Route 259 are part of the Conservancy’s longstanding focus on the valley.

“These are two of the key farms in Ligonier Valley, along with another that was protected earlier this year” said WPC President and Chief Executive Office Thomas Saunders. “These easements will conserve prime agricultural land and will help protect the scenic character of the valley.”

The first parcel, a third-generation, 189-acre dairy farm, has been in Robert and Christa Graham’s family since 1932. They said the money from the conservation easement will allow the couple to pass on the farm to their children.

An agricultural conservation easement is a voluntary agreement with landowners that keeps property in private hands while permanently restricting future uses. The easement will help conserve prime agricultural soils, protect the watershed’s quality and preserve open space in the Ligonier Valley and the Laurel Highlands.

In addition to farmland, the parcel contains acres of woodland and wetland and includes extensive frontage on Hypocrite Creek and its tributaries, which feed into Tubmill Creek. Robert Graham said he has spotted deer, bear, turkey, pheasants and other animals roaming among the native grasses on the property. “But its relationship to Tubmill Creek is what really makes the place special,” he said.

This isn’t the first time that Graham has worked with the Conservancy. Through the organization’s Watershed Conservation Program, Graham has installed stream bank fencing and has established stabilized stream crossings along Hypocrite Creek. These measures help improve water quality in streams flowing through agricultural lands by limiting livestock’s access to the creek.

The second easement covers 104 acres of farmland owned by Debra and Mike Payne. The Payne farm also sits within Tubmill Creek watershed, just upstream from the Graham farm, on Hartman Road. The easement will protect the farm’s scenic hillsides and valleys and will contribute additional protection to Tubmill Creek.

The Richard King Mellon Foundation, Colcom Foundation, Katherine Mabis McKenna Foundation, Beckwith Family Foundation and individual donors provided financial support for these projects.

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Members of the media may use photos of the property found here: goo.gl/loMoR or goo.gl/4UpC5

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 WaterLandLife.org.

Media contact:
Allison Schlesinger
412-586-2358 (office)
412-607-1945 (cell)
aschlesinger@paconserve.org
 

The Western Pennsylvania Conservancy is a nonprofit, tax-exempt charitable organization under Section 501(c)(3)
of the Internal Revenue Code, and 100% of your donation is tax-deductable as allowed by law.