WPC Permanently Conserves 10,000 Acres in Ligonier Valley
Wed, Jul 3rd 2013, 11:37. Filed under News Releases.
Ligonier, Pa. – July 3 – The Western Pennsylvania Conservancy reached a land conservation milestone when it completed a conservation easement on a family farm in Donegal Township last week. All told, the organization has permanently protected more than 10,000 acres in the Ligonier Valley through voluntary conservation easements since the 1970s.
The Conservancy protected the nearly 137-acre farm in Westmoreland County’s Loyalhanna Creek watershed through a conservation easement finalized at the end of June. This project is the latest easement in a WPC initiative to preserve the agricultural heritage of the Ligonier Valley, protect water quality and conserve farmland and open space. The Conservancy has acquired conservation easements over eight farms in the Ligonier Valley since December 2012. WPC’s earliest conservation easements date back to the late 1970s and were in that area.
In June, the Conservancy secured easements on properties totaling almost 400 acres, including a parcel in the Tubmill Creek watershed in Fairfield Township; a forested and agricultural property in Donegal Township; and a third-generation family farm, also in Fairfield Township.
“Ligonier Valley is a special place, with its forested ridges, valleys of rolling farmland, streams and long, sweeping, scenic views. The Conservancy protects land in many parts of Western Pennsylvania, but has recognized Ligonier Valley and the Laurel Highlands as among our key focus areas for land conservation for decades,” said Thomas D. Saunders, WPC’s president and chief executive officer. “We have experienced conservation successes there because of our collaboration with landowners in the valley. So many landowners in the valley recognize that they live in a special place and want to be a part of the long-term protection of the valley’s open space, farmland and scenic views.”
Specifically, the four Ligonier Valley properties that WPC protected through easements within the last month include:
• Nearly 137 acres on Donegal Lake Road in Donegal Township. This easement on the family farm will protect a scenic viewshed and views of Donegal Lake, as well as preserving productive agricultural land.
• Nearly 59 acres along Route 711 in Donegal Township. The property is located on a state scenic byway and in the Loyalhanna Creek watershed; the easement will protect the viewshed of this property, which is half forest and half farmland.
The property has been in Kirk Renner’s family for four generations – he can trace his family tree back to the 18th century in Ligonier Valley. Now that his own children are grown and live out of state, Renner wanted to find a way to protect the land and create a legacy. “For me, this is a practical way to maintain the land in a natural state – its current state – and personally benefit from it,” Renner said.
• More than 63 acres on Mountain View Road in Fairfield Township. This farm sits in the headwaters of the Tubmill Creek, a priority stream because of its rich aquatic life, including trout. The easement will protect agricultural soils, water resources, forests and woodlands, as well as scenic views, from detrimental development and uses.
• A third-generation, 138-acre family farm on Route 259, also in Fairfield Township. Owned by Rex and Susan Henderson, the property sits near other properties that are protected by conservation easements. It drains into the Hypocrite Creek and Snyders Run, which are tributaries of Tubmill Creek. In addition, a majority of the property’s soils have been classified as prime or statewide important farmland.
A conservation easement is a voluntary agreement with landowners that keeps property in private hands while permanently restricting future uses. Each agreement is unique, and is written to protect the conservation values of the land. It allows the landowner to continue to own and use the land and to sell it or pass it on to heirs. Future owners also will be bound by the agreement’s terms.
WPC has protected 90 properties in the Ligonier Valley through conservation easements over the last several decades.
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.