Three years into the Great Depression on February 16, 1932, 10 citizens came together to start a nonprofit conservation organization with the goal to alleviate widespread unemployment through public works programs. They also wanted these programs to create a positive impact on the region’s natural resources. Their actions founded the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, known then under its former name as the Greater Pittsburgh Parks Association.
Today, the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy is still going strong and has protected more than 255,000 acres of natural lands in Pennsylvania, helped to establish 10 state parks, and protected or restored more than 3,000 miles of rivers and streams. In 1963, Edgar Kaufmann jr. entrusted the Conservancy with Fallingwater, his family’s weekend home and Frank Lloyd Wright’s masterwork in Mill Run, Pennsylvania. We also enriche our region’s cities and towns through 132 community gardens and green spaces that are planted with the help of more than 10,300 members and nearly 12,000 volunteers. We invite you to explore the challenges and successes that comprise our history of caring for water, land and wildlife in Western Pennsylvania.
Select a period to view key milestones in our history.
A group of 10 citizens founded the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy under its former name — Greater Pittsburgh Parks Association — on February 16, 1932. Those citizens were: Edward Vose Babcock, Frank L. Duggan, Howard Covode Heinz, Richard Beatty Mellon, William Singer Moorhead, Frank Reith Phillips, Andrew Wells Robertson, Maurice R. Scharff, Edwin Whittier Smith and James Lyall Stuart.
The association's first large project is landscaping a park along Pittsburgh's Bigelow Boulevard.
Acquisition of McConnells Mill and Slippery Rock Gorge in Lawrence County for creation of McConnell’s Mill State Park. In 1974, the park was dedicated as a National Natural Landmark.
Ferncliff Peninsula at Ohiopyle in Fayette County is acquired through a gift from Edgar J. Kaufmann Charitable Trust. In 1974, Ferncliff was dedicated as a National Natural Landmark.
A natural area is acquired in Butler County to create Jennings Nature Reserve. Additional land is acquired in 1962 and 1969 to total 310 acres. This land is now known as Jennings Environmental Education Center, owned by PA Bureau of State Parks. Named for the famous botanist, Dr. Otto Emery Jennings, the reserve includes a relict prairie where the wildflower blazing star (Liatris spicata) blooms each August.
Acquired Heiner Memorial, a wildflower-covered slope along Bear Creek in Butler County.
3,000 acres acquired along Muddy Creek in Butler County, which today serves as the nucleus for Moraine State Park.
Buchanan Run in Lawrence County is acquired, which includes 104-acres of hemlock-hardwood forest in scenic, steep-walled ravine.
Acquired 300-acre wildflower reserve in Raccoon Creek valley in Beaver County. It is considered to be the finest stand of native wildflowers in southwestern Pennsylvania. The resource is now owned by the PA Bureau of State Parks.
Nearly 10,000 acres assembled along the Youghiogheny River in Fayette County for the creation of Ohiopyle State Park — ultimately to become the largest state park in Pennsylvania.
Kaufmann Conservation on Bear Run in Fayette County, entrusted to WPC by Edgar Kaufmann, jr. This donation includes Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater and the 3,600-acre Bear Run Nature Reserve.
Old Stone House in Butler County is acquired and restored by WPC. This popular 19th-century inn is now owned by the Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission.
Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater opens for public tours. More than four million visitors from around the world have since toured the famous house on the waterfall.
The Conservancy coordinates the restoration of Johnston Tavern in Mercer County — a boarding house and a stop on the Underground Railroad during the Civil War. This historic tavern is now owned by the Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission.
WPC assembles 11,230 acres along Laurel Ridge, from the Youghiogheny River to the Conemaugh River. This land was conveyed to the Commonwealth as a substantial part of Laurel Ridge State Park and the 70-mile Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail.
897 acres is acquired in Venango County and transferred to the Commonwealth for the creation of Oil Creek State Park.
1,200-acre Schollard's Run Wetlands is acquired in Mercer County and sold to the Pennsylvania Game Commission.
WPC purchases 1,900 acres along the Conemaugh Gorge in Indiana and Westmoreland counties and sold to the Pennsylvania Game Commission.
Wattsburg Bog in Erie County is acquired. This bog is home to a unique stand of rare, wild orchids.
A small fen measuring less than one acre is purchased in Lawrence County to protect a stand of the beautiful wildflower, fringed gentian.
More than 9,182 acres of shoreline and islands is acquired in the Allegheny River corridor from Warren County to Allegheny County. Most of this land has been transferred to the Allegheny National Forest. Among the 16 islands acquired were Nine and Fourteen Mile Islands, donated by McDonough Corporation of Parkersburg, West Virginia; and Nicholson Island, donated by Dravo Corporation of Pittsburgh.
The Conservancy assembles 9,500 acres of wild mountain land along the west slope of Laurel Hill in Westmoreland and Somerset counties. Known as the "Mountain Streams Project," this wild area has three sparkling-clear streams and includes the 3,000-acre Roaring Run Natural Area.
Aided by a grant from Thomas Hay Walker of Sewickley, Pa., WPC assists the Bureau of State Parks in the restoration of Frankfort Mineral Springs, a 19th-century health spa adjoining Raccoon Creek State Park in Beaver County.
Laurel Hill Furnace in Westmoreland County is donated to the Conservancy by the Reidenouer family. This historic structure is one of the best-preserved iron blast furnaces in the state.
A 16-acre tract in Allegheny County isdonated to the Conservancy by the Henrici heirs. The land and home have been transferred to Allegheny County.
A 148-acre natural area near Zelienople is transferred at cost to Butler County.
WPC acquires 395 acres in Pine Swamp, Mercer County. It is an unusual raised bog more commonly found in Maine, Eastern Canada and Alaska.
WPC acquires 935 acres in Conneaut Marsh (State Game Land 213), Crawford County, and sells the land to the PA Game Commission. One of the most significant wetlands in Pennsylvania, Conneaut Marsh has two of the state's four known nesting American bald eagles.
280 acres of key lands is added along the upper reaches of the Youghiogheny River and adjacent to Ohiopyle State Park in Somerset and Fayette counties.
WPC acquires 88 acres in Potter County—an important tract within Susquehannock State Forest near the Hammersley Fork Wild Area. The land has been conveyed to the Bureau of State Forests.
WPC acquires 32-acre Miller Esker, a glacial formation in Butler County near Moraine State Park.
A key 5-acre indenture is purchased for the PA Game Commission's Middlecreek Waterfowl Management Area in Lancaster County.
The Chessie System donates an abandoned 22-mile Indian Creek Valley Railway, running from Kregar in Westmoreland County to the Youghiogheny River in Fayette County.
WPC acquires Tryon-Weber Woods, an 84-acre tract of mature, American beech-sugar maple woods in Crawford County—considered to be one of the finest of its kind in northwestern Pennsylvania.
Beechwood Farms Nature Reserve is established in Fox Chapel, Allegheny County, through a donation of 90 acres from Mrs. John F. Walton, Jr., and Mr. and Mrs. Joshua C. Whetzel, Jr. The largest private nature reserve in Allegheny County, Beechwood Farms is operated by the Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania. Evans Nature Center, the focal point of the reserve, was made possible through a grant from Mrs. John Berdan and the Thomas Raymond Evans Foundation of Pittsburgh.
1,275 acres is acquired in Fulton County as an addition to State Game Land 53.
190 acres is purchased in the upper Pine Creek gorge in Tioga County and conveyed to the PA Bureau of Forestry.
98 acres in Fulton County is donated to the Conservancy by golfer Arnold Palmer and Latrobe contractor John M. Ridilla, for addition to State Game Land 53.
A large art bequest is willed to the Conservancy by Dorothy Kantner of Somerset, Pa. She is the granddaughter of the well-known 19th-century Pittsburgh artist, George Hetzel. The bequest included many paintings by Mr. Hetzel and his daughter, Lila; the Hetzel home and studio, and 150 acres of land.
500 acres in Bedford County is acquired from Judge Richard C. Snyder and Hubert L. Snyder for addition to State Game Land 97. In recognition of the conservation programs carried out on the land by the Snyder family, the tract has been designated the "Snyder Wildlife and Conservation Area."
224-acre private inholding is acquired within Michaux State Forest, Cumberland County. Once threatened by second home development, the land is now part of the state forest.
The Conservancy transfers the deed to commonwealth for 17 miles of abandoned railroad right-of-way from Confluence to Bruner Run in the Youghiogheny River Gorge in Fayette County. This land is part of a 27-mile right-of-way that the Conservancy acquired from the Chessie System in 1978.
Conservancy assembles 12,670 acres of wild mountain land in Clinton and Centre counties for the creation of a major new state game land (#295). The largest project in Conservancy history to this date, this tract is best known for its famed wilderness trout stream—Cherry Run. The Cherry Run Project also protects four other mountain streams and nearly 20 square miles of game-rich forestland.
A significant five-acre inholding is acquired in State Game Land 42 along Baldwin and Powdermill runs in Westmoreland County and sold to the PA Game Commission.
The Conservancy purchases the 100-acre Wolf Creek Narrows Natural Area in Butler County. The site is famous for its spectacular display of spring wildflowers.
In its first project in Greene County, WPC acquires the 1,152-acre Lone Star Farm as an addition to State Game Land 223.
The Maurice K. Goddard Chair in Forestry and Environmental Resource Conservation and the Roger M. Latham Memorial Scholarship Fund are established at Penn State University.
Evans Nature Center, near Pittsburgh, is dedicated at Beechwood Farms Nature Reserve.
The Fallingwater Visitor's Pavilion is constructed.
WPC protects 175 additional acres at Conneaut Marsh, where several small purple fringed orchis (Platanthera psycodes) are found for the first time.
The Pennsylvania Heritage program is founded.
Acquisitions for the 9,182-acre Allegheny River Project now total 22 separate land parcels and 16 islands following the purchase of five additional land parcels and three islands to be conveyed to the Allegheny National Forest.
WPC adds 102 acres to Pine Swamp Natural Area off Route 965 between Jackson Center and Perrine Corners in Mercer County.
WPC acquires a key “missing link” in the Bear Run watershed by protecting an additional 143 acres in the uppermost portion of the watershed at the very origins of Bear Run.
WPC updates members on the Clarion River Project; by January 1982, more than 4,800 acres of land and 18 miles of shoreline are protected.
In late summer, WPC purchases Deer Creek Access, a 7.6-acre parcel at the confluence of Deer Creek in Harmar Township along the Allegheny River's northern shore and across from 12-mile Island; to be sold to the Pennsylvania Fish Commission for free public access.
In the fall, WPC acquires a 57-acre tract that borders the extreme southern part of Bear Run Nature Reserve to serve as a buffer between the reserve and private land and to provide further protection to the watershed.
WPC saves additional habitat for Pennsylvania's restored elk herd with the purchase of 176 acres, which is added to Elks State Forest in Elk and Cameron counties.
WPC facilitates a land/mineral transaction that provides protection to Hells Run Hollow at McConnells Mill State Park by conveying a 68-acre parcel in the Hells Run watershed to the commonwealth to become part of the park.
WPC improves public access to Wolf Creek Narrows northwest of Slippery Rock, Butler County by acquiring 15 acres of heavily wooded land at the southern end of the gorge.
WPC reports the sale of 3,524 acres on both sides of the lower 10-mile stretch of the Clarion River, from Cooksburg to Piney Dam, to the PA Game Commission and sells a four-acre parcel south of Cooksburg to the PA Fish and Boat Commission for free boating and fishing access.
WPC reaches a milestone by enrolling 10,000 members on Aug. 23, 1983, with membership swelling to nearly 11,000 members from all 50 states.
WPC continues its work on the Clarion River Project with the purchase of a heavily wooded, 245-acre tract in Millstone Township, Elk County in the upper 30-mile section of the river and 76 acres of wooded hillsides adjacent to State Game Lands 44 in Elk County for sale to the PA Game Commission.
Bear Run Nature Reserve grows with the acquisition of 173 acres.
WPC ends eight years of negotiations with the purchase of 32 acres of land adjacent to Beechwood Farm's northern boundary, making it 33 percent larger at 120 acres.
The Great Tomato Patch raises more than 77,000 pounds of tomatoes and fresh produce near Tarentum, Pa. for needy families in the Greater Pittsburgh Area through the efforts of WPC, Mellon Bank, the Allegheny County Department of Parks and the Pittsburgh Community Food Bank.
The 1984 year-end drive nets nearly $116,000, which tops the previous high in 1982, the year of our 50th anniversary appeal. Funds from the drive supported the creation of the Hickory Creek federal wilderness area.
WPC provides an integral component of the PA Fish and Boat Commission's salmon program at Lake Erie by purchasing the nursery property at the mouth of Godfrey Run, where the fish commission obtains the eggs and milt for the salmon hatchery. This parcel was sold to the commission.
WPC links Gallitzin State Forest, State Game Lands 26, and Blue Knob State Park with the acquisition of 1,537 wild, remote acres on Allegheny Mountain in the corners of Bedford, Cambria, and Somerset counties.
WPC acquires the 6.8-acre Tytoona Cave site, northeast of Altoona and six miles south of Tyrone, and names it Tytoona Cave Natural Area.
WPC member and Titusville resident Ray Gerard coordinates the creation of a 31-mile Oil Creek hiking trail; on Nov. 21, 1986, a new pedestrian footbridge over Oil Creek, a joint project of WPC and the PA Bureau of State Parks, is dedicated.
The 1,000-acre Enlow Fork Natural Area, home to blue-eyed mary wildflowers, is protected through the efforts of WPC, Consolidated Coal (Consol) of Pittsburgh and two public agencies. It is sold to the Pa Game Commission to create State Game Land 302.
In late 1986, WPC buys a 75-acre tract in the southern corner of Bear Run Nature Reserve to further consolidate the area and provide a broader umbrella of protection for its many natural features.
The 50th anniversary season of Fallingwater sees a substantial rise in visitation to Frank Lloyd Wright's masterwork with attendance reaching 92,000.
Fallingwater, A Frank Lloyd Wright Country House by Edgar Kaufmann, jr. is published. A television special, The House on the Waterfall, is produced by Pittsburgh's WQED-TV. The Friends of Fallingwater, a national fund-raising membership drive for Fallingwater, is launched.
WPC continues its work on the Clarion River Project with the acquisition of a 674-acre tract in the northern stretch of the river above Hallton, bringing the total property to 6,833 acres.
For the first time in WPC history, membership exceeds 14,000.
WPC reports that it now owns 1,275 acres of the Loyalhanna Gorge.
WPC acquires a 431-acre canoe access on the West Branch of the Susquehanna River between Karthus and Keating in Centre and Clinton counties to be transferred, at cost, to the PA Bureau of Forestry.
In late 1987, WPC completes its most complex transaction to date with the acquisition of oil, gas and mineral rights at Tionesta Research Natural Area, which is home to trees more than 500 years old.
WPC announces the acquisition of 96 acres including a rare stand of old-growth, white pine and hemlocks just west of Warren, called the Anders Run Natural Area.
In 1987, a record 104,000 visitors from around the world visit Fallingwater.
WPC's Allegheny River Project continues to move forward with the acquisition of a 430-acre tract on the west side of the Allegheny River between West Hickory and Tionesta in Forest County.
WPC acquires 40 more acres at Conneaut Marsh to be transferred, at cost, for addition to State Game Lands 213.
WPC partners with the Pennsylvania Environmental Council (PEC) to sponsor PennACCORD, the state's first center for resolution of environmental disputes.
WPC and the Audubon Society team up to open the newest attraction at Beechwood Farms, a 40-acre native plant sanctuary.
On April 22, the Fallingwater program The House on the Waterfall is broadcast nationally on PBS.
WPC acquires two parcels totaling 880 acres on the Allegheny River in the Warren/Tidioute area within Allegheny National Forest, paving the way for a new biking and hiking trail planned by the Tidioute Area Development Association.
WPC adds 165 acres to the Pine Swamp Natural Area with the addition of two new parcels, further consolidating the 639-acre natural area.
WPC is given the 380-acre farm of Elizabeth M. Totten of Plaingrove, Lawrence County for Plain Grove Fens Natural Area, featuring the PA endangered species, spreading globe flower.
WPC donates Evans Nature Center at Beechwood Farms Nature Reserve and the surrounding four acres to the Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania.
After 25 years of negotiations, WPC in late 1989 purchases 16 acres of privately owned streamside property near Drake Well Park to be added to Oil Creek State Park.
WPC protects 2,731 acres for the Laurel Highlands Conservation Project, including three separate parcels totaling 1,036 acres in the Quebec Run Wild Area.
WPC gives six miles (62 acres) of abandoned Indian Creek Valley Railway right-of-way to Saltlick Township, Fayette County for a new hiking and biking trail.
WPC, which acquired 32 acres for Wattsburg Fen Natural Area in 1969, acquires an additional 251 acres at the natural area.
WPC brings the total land in the Clarion River Project to nearly 7,700 acres with the acquisition of 418 acres.
Mrs. Robert Kirkpatrick of Pittsburgh makes possible the addition of 67 acres to Bear Run Nature Reserve.
WPC starts a pilot Farm and Woodland Program to protect open space, preserve scenic beauty and raise capital funds.
In August, WPC purchases for the state a 7,225 acre in-holding of private land in the central portion of Sproul State Forest near the West Branch of the Susquehanna River and north of Renovo.
In October, WPC acquires a 22-acre property contiguous to State Game Lands 174 in the northeastern part of Indiana County near Glen Campbell.
WPC protects a strategic French Creek access, a 1.4-acre parcel of streamside land located north of the Utica Bridge between the creek and the railroad tracks, to be conveyed to the PA Fish and Game Commission.
WPC acquires United States Steel property in Erie County to create a new 3,131-acre state game lands that will be named the “David M. Roderick Wildlife Reserve” in honor of the former USX board chairman.
WPC continues its work on the Clarion River Project by adding 400 acres, which involves five parcels of land near Clarington in Forest and Jefferson counties. WPC receives title to the 400 acres of land for timber rights that are granted to Collins Pine Company of Kane, Pa.
As part of the Allegheny River Project, WPC acquires a 61-acre riverside campground/boat launch area two miles north of Tionesta and across the river from the PA Fish and Game Commission access for addition to Allegheny National Forest.
A 75-acre forested parcel near DuBois in Clearfield County is the first gift to WPC's Farm and Woodlands Program. The second gift is 377 acres of forest and farmland featuring a native trout stream near Galeton in Potter County.
WPC buys a 2,200 acre private in-holding in the northwest portion of Sproul State Forest as well as the oil, gas and mineral rights for the land in order to consolidate public holdings, eliminate improper development and make forest management easier.
WPC protects 67 acres containing Sideling Hill Creek barrens, the largest shale barren along the Pennsylvania portion of the stream.
WPC continues its work on the Laurel Highlands Conservation Project by acquiring 96 acres adjacent to the Quebec Run Wild Area of Forbes State Forest for addition to Forbes State Forest.
WPC acquires a 22-acre campground near Tionesta and five islands, known as the Siggias Island Complex, in the Allegheny River, increasing to 21 the total number of islands that WPC has acquired in the river.
WPC conveys the last nine miles of right-of-way for the Youghiogheny River Bike Trail to the commonwealth, which will extend the bike trail from Bruner Run to Connellsville.
WPC gives the Laurel Hill Furnace, located two miles from New Florence, Pa. to the Ligonier Valley Historical Society.
WPC adds 1,645 acres to Quebec Run Wild Area in the Laurel Highlands of Fayette County.
WPC protects 149 acres in Greene County with the sale of two properties to the PA Game Commission to expand State Game Land 223.
The Nature Conservancy presents WPC with a gift of 69 acres in the Sideling Hill Creek Valley, an area of national importance in Fulton County.
WPC acquires mineral (coal and gas) rights on 2,061 acres in Moshannon State Forest, located in the west branch of the Susquehanna River watershed.
Three additional tracts, two in Somerset County and one in Westmoreland county, have been acquired as part of WPC’s Farm and Woodlands program.
The acquisition of a 52-acre inholding in the Susquehannock State Forest to be transferred, at cost, to the state Department of Environmental Resources.
In June, WPC acquires the 11,300-acre President Oil property between Tionesta and Oil City. It is renowned for its wild lands and high-quality trout streams.
WPC's Pittsburgh Park and Playground Fund wins a Renew America 1993 National Environmental Achievement Award.
WPC protects 32 acres at Erie National Wildlife Refuge in Crawford County by purchasing surface oil, gas and mineral rights on the land, to be sold at cost to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
WPC, which in 1989 acquired four parcels totaling 1,645 acres at Quebec Run Wild Area, announces that it has purchased the balance of the oil and gas rights on the property and will transfer them, at cost, to the state Department of Environmental Resources (DER).
WPC announces that 67 acres of rural property in Butler County has been donated to its Farm and Woodlands Program by Mrs. J. Lewis (Ruth) Scott of Pittsburgh.
The 1994 year-end fund drive reaches $202,000, exceeding the previous year's amount by more than $42,000, with all proceeds to go to the Mountain Streams II project.
Travel & Leisure magazine ranks the Youghiogheny River Bike Trail in Fayette County as “one of the 19 best walks in the world.”
After 10 years of negotiations, WPC, with help from The Nature Conservancy, acquires 206 acres of shoreline, wetlands, and uplands surrounding Lake Pleasant, three miles northwest of Arbuckle in Erie County.
WPC receives 98 acres in Spring Creek Township, Warren County that borders State Game Land 143 from Donald M. Alstadt of Erie.
On the 21st anniversary of its Mountain Streams Project, WPC announces the purchase of 2442 acres of wild lands with exceptional trout waters in Westmoreland County from the Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County for $1.8 million. This land is added to Forbes State Forest.
With major funding from the Wildlife International Foundation, WPC protects its 18th natural area, Lutzville Cliffs, an eight-acre limestone cliff and slope above the Raystown Branch of the Juniata River in Bedford County.
In early May, WPC partners with the Pennsylvania Environmental Council and Allegheny College for the French Creek Project.
WPC mourns the loss of Maurice K. Goddard (1912-1995), who died on Sept. 14, 1995 as a result of injuries suffered in a fire at his Camp Hill, Pa. home. He was described as “Pennsylvania's top environmentalist for 25 years,” retiring in 1979 as Secretary of the DER.
In December, WPC acquires a 548-acre tract in Spring Creek Township south of Ridgway as part of the Clarion River Project. To date, 8,062 acres are protected through this project.
The 1995 Year-end Fund Drive Appeal raises nearly $159,000, which is earmarked for the protection of Lake Pleasant.
On Oct. 19, 1996, U.S. President Bill Clinton signs legislation that makes a 51.7-mile stretch of the Clarion River part of the National Wild and Scenic River System.
Through a cooperative agreement with Butler County, WPC purchases a 14.5-acre property near the entrance to Alameda Park, a 407-acre county park adjacent to Butler.
WPC unveils Penn's Wood Partners, a new planned giving program that offers donors the chance to provide for WPC in their financial and estate planning.
WPC protects 200 acres near Elk State Forest in Elk and Cameron counties for addition to State Game Land 311.
WPC continues the Mountain Streams Project by acquiring 124 acres at the western edge of the original Mountain Streams property to be added to Forbes State Forest.
In February, WPC buys Pittsburgh's oldest commercial building at 209 Fourth Avenue and renovates the 161-year-old structure for its offices.
WPC acquires nine tracts totaling 1,341 acres in the Clarion River watershed as it continues work on the Clarion River Project.
M. Graham Netting, a friend of WPC and a director for more than 50 years, dies on August 26.
Sixty-one-year-old Fallingwater is shored to prevent further deflections until a design solution can be developed to repair the cantilevers; meanwhile, an unrelated concrete restoration project is underway.
WPC acquires its 200,000th acre; currently, it has more than 25,000 acres of land and 10,000 acres of easements.
On Aug. 1, 1997, WPC and the Horticultural Society of Western Pennsylvania (HSWP) agree to work together for mutual benefit. The decision follows HSWP's receipt of a lease agreement from Allegheny County for the development of a botanical garden at Settler's Cabin Park.
WPC receives the 1997 Governor's Award for Environmental Excellence in the category of Energy Efficiency/Renewables. The award is given to WPC because of its action in reducing energy use, minimizing waste and promoting the use of reused and reusable building materials at its headquarters in Pittsburgh.
WPC agrees to undertake the Three Rivers Parkway Project to create a beautiful natural landscape along the Parkway West Corridor from downtown Pittsburgh to the Pittsburgh International Airport.
Forty Pittsburgh public schools come alive with flowers in the second year of the School Garden Initiative.
WPC receives a donation of 72 acres in the Sideling Hill Creek Valley in southcentral Pennsylvania from Christopher and Missy Lipsett.
WPC president Larry Schweiger signs an agreement to sell the 11,000-acre H.J. Crawford reserve, located between Tionesta and Oil City in Venango County, to Chagrin Land Limited Partnership, an affiliate of Industrial Timber & Land Company (ITL).
On April 7, peregrine falcon eggs hatch in a nest on the 37th floor ledge of the Gulf Tower in downtown Pittsburgh. The hatching is earlier than expected and includes more eggs than usual. WPC's Charles Bier and volunteers built and placed the nest atop the Gulf Tower.
A study of Fallingwater guests who toured the Frank Lloyd Wright masterpiece finds that nearly nine out of every 10 Fallingwater visitors live outside of the area.
The WPC board of directors agrees to buy part of Tamarack Swamp in Centre County. A total of 351 acres are purchased.
100 WPC volunteers, with Duquesne Light and The Pittsburgh Project, complete nine hours of planting The Welcome Garden, using more than 30,000 flowers, at the entrance to the Fort Pitt Tunnels.
WPC acquires the 103-acre Shipley tract in Bedford County from the heirs of the estate of Stanley Shipley to provide further protection to the Sideling Hill Creek watershed.
In the summer, WPC's Natural Heritage staff completes County Natural Heritage Inventories (CNHI) for Bedford and Westmoreland counties.
WPC celebrates the designation of the Sideling Hill Creek Watershed as “Exceptional Value” watershed by the PA Department of Environmental Protection.
First Lady Hillary Clinton names Fallingwater as a recipient of the Save America's Treasures grant program. WPC receives $901,000 for the renovation of Fallingwater. U.S. Rep. John P. Murtha, Johnstown, is pivotal in securing the Save America's Treasures grant as well as gifts of $200,000 and $500,000 for a state-of-the-art, zero-discharge wastewater treatment plant at Fallingwater.
WPC protects vegetation by setting up 12 by 12 foot exclosures, or fenced-in areas, on the Fox Chapel Trillium Trail, a popular wildflower area affected by deer browsing beginning in 1993.
WPC partners with AgRecycle, Inc., Eichenlaub, Inc., the City of Pittsburgh and Point State Park for a project to process more than 37 tons of waste tires into Crown III Crumb Rubber surface layering to be spread over more than 37,000 square feet of lawn at Point State Park.
The French Creek project – a partnership project of WPC, the Pennsylvania Environmental Council and Allegheny College – earns Renew America's National Award for Sustainability in the freshwater/watershed category.
WPC purchases the 13.69-acre Fellowship of the Cross Campground bordering the western shoreline of Lake Pleasant in northeastern Erie County.
The peregrine falcon is removed from the federal list of Endangered and Threatened Species by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Aug. 20.
WPC establishes a second field station by purchasing land at Lake Pleasant.
WPC kicks off its Volunteer Land Stewardship Program in 1999 to care for WPC's nearly 20,000 acres of lands and 20,000 acres of easements.
WPC garden projects are created for the first time in State College, Clarion, Waynesburg and Donora.
“Pittsburgh: The City That Blooms!”, a project of WPC and the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership, is launched with 246 hanging baskets suspended along several busy downtown Pittsburgh streets with funding by the Grable Foundation.
WPC loses a friend and supporter with the passing of Faith Gallo, who served as a consultant on many WPC projects.
In March, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge visits Fallingwater and presents a $3.5 million grant to restore the Frank Lloyd Wright masterpiece. The house is named a “Commonwealth Treasure” by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission. To date, $7.2 million has been secured for the project. Gov. Ridge's visit is covered on WPC's first-ever webcast at its Web site. The new website is unveiled just prior to Ridge's visit.
WPC opens its new field office at Lake Pleasant in Erie County. It focuses on working with residents in developing and implementing a conservation plan for the French Creek watershed.
A total of 350,000 flowers are planted in 400 community gardens throughout 30 counties in western Pennsylvania by 5,000 volunteers.
Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge signs into law the landmark “Growing Greener” bill, which passed in December 1999 by both the state house and senate by an overwhelming majority. It provide $645.9 million over five years for environmental programs.
WPC announces it is installing a new water supply and an innovative “zero discharge” wastewater treatment system at Fallingwater to better meet visitation needs and environmental goals for the site
WPC acquires two tracts bringing the total WPC-owned acreage at Lake Pleasant to 264 acres.
WPC acquires 77 acres along Brokenstraw Creek near Warren, Pa., which is the only known location of white adders-mouth orchid (Malaxis brachypoda) in Pennsylvania.
The Benjamin Thomas Holland Memorial Fund is established at WPC by James C. Holland and Pamela Meadowcroft as a tribute to their late son, Ben, because of his “love of outdoor adventure, pristine wilderness and gentleness to the land.” The fund will help provide funding for the stewardship of WPC lands.
WPC receives one of the National Wildlife Federation's first Keep The Wild Alive Species Recovery Fund grants to aid in the recovery of freshwater mussel populations in Muddy Creek.
Through its Community Conservation Program, WPC distributes more than $9,000 in small grants to 44 community groups, to support inner city Pittsburgh block watches and police stations to suburban garden clubs and school groups in northern Pennsylvania.
In August, WPC staff and volunteers undertake a project to provide a new trail system for a 259-acre tract of bottomland forest and wetlands along the west branch of French Creek in Erie County.
Fallingwater is named the Building of the Century by The American Institute of Architects based on a recent poll of its membership.
WPC, partnering with the state Game Commission, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and the Key 93 Program of the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, protects a 191-acre farm in Elk County that is home to elk each year during bugling season.
WPC acquires land in Amity Township, Erie County to allow for easier access to State Game Lands 162. A total of 170 acres on the west side of State Route 8 were purchased in 2000; the remaining 240 acres were acquired in 2001. The acquisition provided additional protection to French Creek.
WPC acquires a 22-acre parcel of natural area in Millstone Township that fronts more than 2,200 feet of the Clarion River. The previous owner, Elk County's Seneca Resources, keeps the oil and gas rights but will not extract oil or gas without permission. WPC also acquires a two-acre plot near the parcel from Anna Grubbs. The property will be conveyed to the Allegheny National Forest.
WPC unveils its latest initiative, the Watershed Assistance Center, to carry out the organization's commitment to partner with local groups on watershed issues.
WPC protects more of Chestnut Ridge with an acquisition of approximately 390 acres of pristine property in Derry Township, Westmoreland County. The property is listed as a Biodiversity Area by the Westmoreland County Natural Heritage Inventory.
WPC partners with the board of trustees of The Winnie Palmer Nature Reserve to protect 25 acres of undeveloped land along Route 30 in Unity Township, Westmoreland County. Turning this land into a reserve was the dream of Arnold Palmer's wife.
The French Creek Conservation Plan is presented in public meetings in August; the public comment stage ends Sept. 30. All comments are put into the final plan, which is completed by the end of the year. The document describes the land, water, biological and cultural resources in the watershed, but does not establish regulations or requirements.
On Monday, Nov. 5, Fallingwater closes to the public for the structural strengthening of the living room cantilevers. Hardhat tours are offered on weekends only, beginning Nov. 23-25 through Dec. 30, 2001.
WPC partners with the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, The Conservation Fund and the state game commission to acquire more than 2,600 acres in Logan and Oneida Townships in Huntingdon County. The acquisition permanently preserves species of special concern and maintains habitat for black bears, turkey and grouse; it also helps protect the watershed of the Juniata River.
WPC celebrates its 70th anniversary. To date, the organization has protected more than 212,000 acres in Western Pennsylvania.
WPC works to acquire a 2.4-acre property as part of an effort protect a vacant church on the outskirts of Altoona, Pa. that is home to 20,000 bats, including 41 federal and state endangered Indiana bats. Partners for the project include the state game commission, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Bureau of State Parks and the State Parks and Forests Foundation.
32,000 flowers in 43 WPC gardens are lost in a damaging frost during the third weekend in May, after a four-night dip in temperature.
The first documented peregrine falcon birth occurs on Mother's Day at the University of Pittsburgh's Cathedral of Learning. On June 11th, the four offspring, three males and one female, are banded by state Game Commission personnel.
Jarvis B. Cecil, former WPC Board Chairman, is honored with the unveiling of the Jarvis B. Cecil Conservation Volunteer Leader Award. It honors individuals who generously give their time and leadership skills and make a significant impact on conservation. Dr. Peter Dalby, a professor at Clarion State University, is the first recipient of the award.
In December 2002, the final shoring that has supported Fallingwater for the past six years is removed; the strengthening of the home is finished. Meanwhile, Builder's Magazine Reader's Choice Survey proclaims Fallingwater America's Favorite Historic Home.
A full-scale study of French Creek's fish and mussels begins in the summer. The study is carried out by WPC's Northwest Field Station in Erie County. In addition, partners from The Nature Conservancy, Edinboro University and the French Creek Project assist along with volunteers.
WPC purchases 389.5 acres off Route 217 in Chestnut Ridge in Derry Township, Westmoreland County, to protect habitat for several state-listed animal species. The land is conveyed to the Commonwealth and added to Forbes State Forest.
David Crockett, a descendant of Davy Crockett, addresses more than 200 at the newly renovated Barn at Fallingwater, at the WPC annual meeting in September. The Barn, originally built in 1870 and expanded by Edgar Kaufmann Sr., is dedicated as an interpretive center featuring educational programming, exhibitions and information about regional ecology.
During the spring, WPC partners with PennDOT to beautify the Squirrel Hill Tunnels in Pittsburgh.
In April, the original male peregrine falcon that began nesting at Pittsburgh's Gulf Tower site is killed. Scientists suspect a one-year-old male that hatched at the University of Pittsburgh's Cathedral of Learning the previous Mother's Day fought and won control of the Gulf nest. The female abandons her six eggs and the new pair of peregrine falcons court. Four eggs are laid and then hatched.
WPC teams with Pittsburgh-based ALCOA on “The Trees of Pittsburgh,” a pocket guide on tree species in Pittsburgh's four public parks.
On Sept. 13, 2003, WPC purchases a property owned by the same family since the 1700s for addition to Blue Knob State Park. The Griffith family owned the 234-acre property, which contains two streams – Wallacks Branch Creek, a Wild Trout Stream; and Bob’s Creek, a Wild Trout Fishery.
The Watershed Conservation Plan of the Sewickley Creek Watershed Association (SCWA) is completed. WPC's Watershed Assistance Center helped to develop the plan.
WPC's BloomSites Program places 100 new baskets in downtown Pittsburgh. They are found along Forbes Avenue, Fourth Avenue, Fifth Avenue, Fifth Avenue Place, Market Square, PPG, PNC First Side (Grant Street) and the South Side Port Authority “T” station.
In December, WPC signs an agreement with the state game commission to transfer 1,732 wooded acres along the southern shore of the Clarion River to the commission, providing a protected link between State Game Land 44 in southwestern Elk County and State Game Land 54 in northeastern Jefferson County.
To date, 11,688 of the 12,200 targeted acres in the Clarion River Project are secured in 43 separate transactions with most property transferred to public agencies.
WPC, the oldest independent conservancy in the state, receives the 2003 Pittsburgh American Business Ethics Award, non-profit category, which is presented each year by the Society of Financial Services Professionals.
On June 4, “Erie Bluffs State Park” becomes the official name of 540 pristine acres along the Lake Erie shoreline. On July 17-18, Bioblitz is held at the park. A total of 80 species of birds, 19 species of mammals, 302 species of vascular plants and 94 species of fungi are found, among other discoveries.
The winners of a WPC essay contest, “Conservation and Me,” are Ramon Carr, Carmalt Elementary School; Katrina Forrester, Beechwood Elementary School; David Keller, Whittier Elementary School; Shannon McCarthy, Carmalt Elementary School. They are invited to participate in the banding of peregrine falcons.
On April 1, “A Fallingwater Homecoming” premieres at the Bear Run Interpretive Center. The program showcases the connection between the residents of the Bear Run community and the natural landscape. It runs until July 25; a public and community gathering is held on June 13.
On March 22, officials including United States Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman and Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell announced the establishment of a Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) in the state's Ohio River basin. It provides $146 million to help farmers in western Pennsylvania employ agricultural conservation practices to improve water quality in streams.
In the spring, more than 5,000 volunteers worked with WPC to plant 350,000 flowering plants in community gardens.
WPC and a steering committee of residents in the Clarion River Watershed develop a greenway plan for the river. WPC, as part of the planning process, develops a water trail map/brochure for the river with the state Fish and Boat Commission and the Allegheny National Forest.
On June 30, 2004, WPC purchases 14.14 acres of wooded hillsides and open space formerly known as Malli's Grove. The property, located in South Park Township, is to be conveyed to Allegheny County for an addition to South Park.
WPC completes the Clearfield County Natural Heritage Inventory (CNHI), which is the 14th done in 14 years. The inventories list specific information and maps of a county's most crucial natural resources, helping counties plan wisely so that both local economies grow and natural resources are sustained in a mutually beneficial manner.
WPC's Riparian Buffer Initiative reaches a milestone with the installation of its 50th mile of streambank fencing. The fencing, along with other agricultural best management practices on farms and dairy operations, improves water quality by restricting livestock access to streams.
WPC celebrates the training of its 100th volunteer land steward. The program, which began in 1999, prepares the stewards to monitor and manage WPC-conserved lands. Currently, 75 land steward volunteers are serving and acting as WPC ambassadors.
During 2005, the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy implemented a targeted approach to address sediment pollution in streams caused by agriculture.
By the end of 2005, WPC staff:
- installed more than 80 miles of streambank fencing,
- facilitated the use of more than 10,000 acres of seasonal cover crops on erosion-prone cropland,
- planted hundreds of acres of warm season grasses to protect soil, and
- aided landowners in finding conservation practices that work for both the environment and the landowner.
The Bear Run Nature Reserve conservation plan, initiated in 2005, will provide guidance for conservation, restoration and protection of terrestrial and aquatic habitats in the reserve and the surrounding landscape in order to maintain healthy ecosystems.
WPC recognized three largely forested landscapes that include forest patches greater than 15,000 acres in size that are important for the conservation of species, communities and habitats: the Middle Allegheny forests, the West Branch Susquehanna forests and the Laurel Highlands.
The year 2005 marked the 70th anniversary of the day Frank Lloyd Wright first put pencil to paper and produced the revolutionary design for a mountain retreat that quickly became one of the most famous houses of all time. The Western Pennsylvania Conservancy continues to develop new ways to experience Fallingwater and, in 2005, added two new specialized tours.
In 2005, WPC began implementing a landscape masterplan for the area that surrounds Fallingwater. A major goal of this plan is the removal of various invasive plant species including English ivy, wisteria, bush honeysuckle and winged euonymus (burning-bush), which have escaped from cultivation on the grounds into the forest surrounding the Fallingwater house and threaten a number of native trees, other plants and wildlife.
In addition to planting more than 150 gardens in 20 western Pennsylvania counties, WPC partnered with the Mount Washington Community Development Corporation in Pittsburgh to develop a “Master Implementation Plan” for managing Mount Washington’s green spaces.
In 2006, the Watershed Assistance Center changed its name to the Freshwater Conservation Program to more accurately reflect WPC’s mission. Staff are now being positioned to work, and often live, in key watershed communities.
WPC has now protected nearly 20,000 acres of islands, shorelines and valleys along the Allegheny River. In 2006, WPC targeted 550 miles of major river and tributary ecosystems for conservation, along with 84 occurrences of globally rare (imperiled on Earth) plants, invertebrates, vertebrates and aquatic communities.
WPC expands its outreach in promoting agricultural programs such as the Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP), the Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program (WHIP) and the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) designed to give farmers specific opportunities to practice sound conservation agriculture.
WPC works directly with grassroots watershed organizations to clean up streams impacted by acid mine drainage as a consequence of abandoned mining operations.
WPC community greening staff aids in creating connectivity along the Ghost Town Trail in Indiana and Cambria Counties. WPC’s staff identified ways to create beds of native plants to beautify the area, create visual highlights that identify the trail for users, and emphasize the green resource that connects all of these portions of the trail together through three towns.
The Barn at Fallingwater is awarded the Commonwealth Design Award from 10,000 Friends of Pennsylvania, an alliance of organizations and individuals committed to enhancing the quality of life for all Pennsylvanians. The award is in recognition of design excellence that encompasses sound land-use principles.
WPC forest conservation efforts in the region focused on “core forest blocks” of at least 10,000 acres of relatively unfragmented forestland in 2006. WPC identified areas where key forest blocks can be reconnected, creating forest corridors to facilitate wildlife movement. These priority forest blocks are: Chestnut Ridge, Laurel Hill South, and Mount Davis.
The Western Pennsylvania Conservancy and its partners use GIS (Geographical Information Systems) to determine landscape connections between important forest and watershed conservation targets. The process combines satellite images, aerial photography, and known locations of target species, with specific information about species’ habitat preferences and tolerances to human activity. One of the target areas is in the Laurel Highlands, where the WPC Conservation Science staff is looking for ecologically meaningful links between large unfragmented patches of forest on Chestnut Ridge and Laurel Ridge.
The Western Maryland Railway Project, a landmark 150-mile rails-to-trails corridor, becomes a reality because of the efforts of former WPC presidents Josh Whetzel and John Oliver, and Board Member Linda McKenna Boxx.
WPC begins exploring the feasibility of connecting forest corridors, Laurel Ridge and Chestnut Ridge, in the Laurel Highlands.
WPC opens The Allegheny Project Office in Ridgway, Elk County as a means to better serve this important ecological region
WPC develops a conservation plan for the 5,061-acre Bear Run Nature Reserve that will serve as a long-term management strategy for the land.
WPC Board Member Weida Tucker is appointed Chair of the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy’s first Diversity Committee.
Wood Design and Building magazine names the Barn at Fallingwater a Merit Award winner in the Wood Design Awards.
WPC acquires 163.49 acres in the French Creek/Ohio Basin watershed in a donation from the Volkman family in Venango Township, Erie County.
WPC celebrates 75 years of protecting our region’s water, land and life.
More than 5,300 volunteers participate in the Community Gardens and Greenspace program’s spring planting.
WPC sells 207 acres in Venango County to Fisherman’s Cove Preservation Foundation (FCPF), an organization formed to protect the Allegheny River watershed. The agreement ensures permanent protection of the property, which has both conservation and archaeological significance. The land is open for public recreational use.
In February, WPC protects more than 11,000 acres, as part of its 75th Anniversary Acquisitions. The purchases, which are WPC’s largest in a decade, include portions of forests in Clarion, Somerset, Elk and Clearfield counties. The acquisitions were made possible by a grant of nearly $8 million by the Richard King Mellon Foundation, and $4.5 million from the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.
An image of Fallingwater is chosen as one of 40 works of art to be reproduced and distributed to classrooms nationwide, as part of the National Endowment for the Humanities’ “Picturing America” program. A photograph of Frank Lloyd Wright’s masterwork will be used as part of a free education initiative that helps teach American history from 1100 to 1996, through selected works of art by American painters, sculptors, photographers and architects.
TreeVitalize Pittsburgh, a new partnership of the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR), the City of Pittsburgh, Allegheny County, and WPC, kicks off in April. Dedicated to making a significant improvement in the Pittsburgh region’s tree cover, TreeVitalize intends to plant thousands of trees in the Pittsburgh region over the next several years.
With repairs to the Homestead Grays Bridge completed, the community garden located at 8th Avenue in Homestead reopens in June after a two-year hiatus, thanks to the support of Pennsylvania American Water. They also assist in funding seven other WPC community gardens.
The Pennsylvania Natural Heritage Program, a cooperative effort among WPC, the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission and the Pennsylvania Game Commission, continues its valuable work throughout the year. On behalf of the National Parks Service, ecologists complete reports on plants, insects and animals found within several national parks in Pennsylvania, to help guide park management and protect rare and native species.
In July, WPC announces a voluntary conservation agreement with three landowners along almost two miles of French Creek. The agreement protects their properties for future generations, and improves the likelihood that one of the most biologically diverse streams in the northeastern United States will continue to thrive.
In partnership with the Indiana County Conservation District, the Penn State Center for Dirt and Gravel Roads and North Mahoning Township, WPC completes dirt and gravel road repair work to stop runoff from a half-mile stretch of Mottarn Road, which runs parallel to Little Mahoning Creek.
In September, WPC announces the creation of an online guide that details the recreational areas WPC has helped to conserve. The guide lists state parks, state and national forests, and waterways conserved by WPC, among other highlights.
Pennsylvania Natural Heritage Program presents its plan for protection of the eastern massasauga rattlesnake, a state endangered species and a candidate for federal listing under the Endangered Species Act.
Later that month, WPC is among the hosts of the Land Trust Alliance’s Rally 2008: National Land Conservation Conference, the largest land conservation training and networking event in America. Also known as Rally 2008, the conference, presented by the Land Trust Alliance, brings more than 2000 land trust professionals, landowners and conservation leaders for four days of workshops, seminars, and field trips, including a visit to Fallingwater.
WPC closes the year by opening a new Juniata and Potomac regional office in Hollidaysburg. Among the goals are to collaborate with local landowners and farmers, and protect the area’s pristine lands and streams.
WPC announces that it will add sustainable, low-maintenance greenery to all 66 Pittsburgh Public Schools over the next four years. Projects include quiet spaces with plants and seating for students and teachers, raised beds for school-initiated planting projects, and more. The project is made possible by a $1.5 million grant from the Grable Foundation.
In May, the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation awards a grant to improve handicap accessibility at Fallingwater. The grant is used to construct an accessible ramp to the visitors pavilion.
Later that summer, Fallingwater is immortalized as a LEGO set. It’s the latest addition to the LEGO Architecture series, which includes the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Guggenheim Museum, and famous landmarks such as the Empire State Building and Chicago’s Sears Tower.
WPC and several partner organizations, including the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and the Indiana County Conservation District, work to complete a project to stop pollution sources and protect habitat for fish and other aquatic life on Little Mahoning Creek. Classified as a high-quality Coldwater fishery, the creek attracts trout anglers from across the nation.
In Erie County, Conservancy scientists discover a plant that has never been recorded in Pennsylvania. The dwarf scouring rush was discovered on the campus of Mercyhurst College West, in Girard.
In preparation for the arrival of world leaders as part of the G-20 Summit, WPC plants hundreds of trees, shrubs, plants and flowers near the David L. Lawrence Convention Center in downtown Pittsburgh. Funding is provided by Colcom Foundation.
WPC acquires 2,400 acres in Clearfield County to permanently conserve forested slopes and streams at the headwaters of Bennett Branch, a tributary to Sinnemahoning Creek. The purchase includes six parcels that are largely adjacent to Moshannon State Forest and state game lands within the Pennsylvania Wilds region. The Conservancy prioritized the conservation of these properties because they augment large blocks of forestland in the eastern portion of the Allegheny Wilds, helping to connect them to the Allegheny National Forest in the West. The $3.5 million purchase was made possible through a grant from the Richard King Mellon Foundation.
The French Creek Joint Venture, a partnership between WPC, The Nature Conservancy and the French Creek Valley Conservancy, permanently conserves nearly two miles of land along French Creek. The agreement will help to protect a variety of rare and endangered aquatic life.
WPC announces the Colcom Revolving Fund for Local Land Trusts, which will provide short-term loans for critical land-conservation purchases. Made possible through grants totaling $1 million from Colcom Foundation, the new loan fund also allows Conservancy staff members to provide technical assistance to fund participants.
Conservancy scientists finish the multi-year French Creek biodiversity study, which surveyed fish, mussels, and other aquatic life in tributaries, and made management recommendations for the creek.
A record-setting 10,000 volunteers contribute nearly 50,000 hours to WPC’s Community Gardens and Greenspace program in 2009.
Staffers from the Pennsylvania Natural Heritage Program complete a thorough inventory of important wildlife species in Warren County. A total of 63 inventories have been completed across the state. Erie County’s wildlife species inventory is updated to include the first-ever documented dwarf scouring rush plant in Pennsylvania, and the discovery of four Blanding’s turtles – the first sighting in the state since 1983.
Scenic properties in the Laurel Highlands region and Mifflin County are permanently protected through conservation easements donated by private landowners to WPC. Waterways, forests and farmland, as well as wildlife habitats and scenic views, are among the areas protected.
TreeVitalize Pittsburgh holds a “Root for Trees” rally in May, to celebrate the planting of 250 trees in the Golden Triangle.
WPC’s land protection and science staff combine to develop habitat management plans for private landowners, designed for wildlife protection while helping property owners meet their land use goals. Outreach focused on Butler and Venango county properties with critical habitat for the endangered eastern massassauga rattlesnake.
WPC purchases a 25.5-acre property that is surrounded by the Conservancy-owned Bear Run Nature Reserve, in the Laurel Highlands near Fallingwater. The acquisition is critical to the long-term protection of the reserve.
A Cultural Trust parking lot in downtown Pittsburgh is transformed into a city parklet for a day, as WPC and its partners participate in PARK(ing) Day, a global event, in September.
In October, WPC, in partnership with the Little Mahoning Creek Watershed Association and the PA Department of Environmental Protection, remove the Savan Dam on Little Mahoning Creek. The project restores the natural creek flow, and creates a healthier environment for fish and other aquatic life.
A 137-acre tract in Jefferson Township. Somerset County, adjacent to Laurel Hill State Park, is acquired by WPC. It includes more than 2,000 feet of frontage on Laurel Hill Creek, considered an endangered waterway.
WPC purchases approximately 113 acres of the last remaining section of undeveloped coastline along Lake Erie, to permanently conserve the land as a refuge for wildlife and a recreational destination. The land, in Springfield Township, Erie County, becomes a permanent addition to the 3,214-acre David M. Roderick Wildlife Reserve/State Game Land 314, which was established by the Conservancy in 1991.
In December, WPC permanently conserves 113 acres of forestland along Tussey Mountain in Bedford County, through a conservation easement donated by private landowners. The land is home to a wealth of native birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, plants and trees.
Fallingwater’s 75th anniversary is celebrated throughout 2011, honoring the legendary architect Frank Lloyd Wright and the Kaufmann family who commissioned the project.
WPC acquires high-priority land in the Ligonier Valley that includes several small wetlands and 1,900 feet of frontage along Loyalhanna Creek, a long-term conservation priority for WPC.
In what has become a new tradition, volunteers and WPC staff welcome spring by planting flowers throughout downtown Pittsburgh in 400 large, potted planters. By late May, flowers bloom in in 140 community gardens in 20 Western Pennsylvania counties, thanks to thousands of volunteers.
WPC scientists identify the Allegheny Front as a top conservation priority. The mountainous region, which spans 160 miles from the Maryland border to Williamsport, serves as a connecting corridor for biodiversity, including migrating birds such as the golden eagle.
Building upon its longstanding focus on the Ligonier Valley, WPC protects two farms as well as property owned by the Ligonier Camp and Conference Center in Ligonier Township, Westmoreland County. The farms easements are acquired in collaboration with the Westmoreland County Agricultural Lands Preservation Board, which will assume stewardship responsibilities for the easements.
Following PA Governor Tom Corbett’s decision to implement the recommendations from the Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission, WPC, Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Pennsylvania Environmental Council, and the PA chapter of the Nature Conservancy urge that the Commonwealth moves quickly to improve oversight and management of Marcellus development, including preventing surface impacts from future state forest land leasing.
A symposium featuring contributors to the new book edited by Fallingwater Director Lynda Waggoner, called “Fallingwater,” is held in June at the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh as one of Fallingwater’s 75th anniversary events.
More than 272 acres of undeveloped forested land in Donegal Township, Westmoreland County, are protected by the Conservancy. The property was protected under a conservation easement that will provide Randall Reserve, a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting the area’s natural features, funding to continue to protect it as a public natural area.
A new exhibition in honor of the 75th anniversary, “Kaufmanns: Pittsburgh’s Purveyor of Culture,” regarding at the Kaufmann family and its landmark department store, opens at Fallingwater’s Visitors Center.
In conjunction with Grow Pittsburgh, WPC announces City Growers, a new program to assist local groups interested in starting community vegetable gardens within the city of Pittsburgh. Grow Pittsburgh and WPC staff will assist in all phases of garden construction and planting.
Updated inventories are completed for Delaware, Pike and Butler counties. Pennsylvania Natural Heritage Program scientists update 971 existing records of rare animals and plants, and document 848 new locations of rare plants and animals.
In September, a 75th Anniversary Gala caps the Fallingwater celebrations. Guests enjoy cocktails and hors d’oeuvres at the fabled house, with a gourmet dinner under a clear tent set in an illuminated meadow nearby. A dazzling light and sound show, using Fallingwater as backdrop, is the evening’s highlight.
WPC acquires 82 forested acres near the bluffs of the Lake Erie shoreline. The property, which will be added to the David M. Roderick Wildlife Reserve, contains a wetland forest with rare plant and animal species, and an ideal habitat for birds including the bald eagle, peregrine falcon, and scarlet tanager.
WPC watershed conservation scientists continue research on the eastern hellbender, focusing their efforts on the Allegheny National Forest. Scientists find the salamanders in eight streams where they were unknown before.
At the end of the year, WPC announces the protection of 1,600 forested acres on Evitts Mountain in Bedford County. The acquisition creates a linkage of protected lands from Rocky Gap State Park in Maryland to Pennsylvania’s Buchanan Forest.
In January, WPC notes the passing of Joshua C. Whetzel Jr., who served as the Conservancy’s president and CEO from 1969 to 1978 and later as board chairman, and a visionary leader in land and water conservation. During his tenure, Whetzel challenged the Conservancy to purchase and conserve large landscapes, an uncommon practice for land conservation organizations in the 1970s. He also advocated for protected lands to be accessible to the public for recreation.
WPC purchases 55 acres in Venango County to permanently protect the habitat of the eastern massasauga rattlesnake, a state-endangered species. The property also has natural habitat that is ideal for many other wildlife species, including songbirds.
A 77-acre Erie County property that includes more than 2,700 feet of frontage on the West Branch of French Creek is permanently conserved, adding to over 3,700 acres WPC has already protected along French Creek. Later in the year, WPC acquires 283 acres along Cussewago Creek in Crawford County, a major French Creek tributary.
WPC and partner organizations continue to document new hellbender populations. During 500 hours of sampling, 78 hellbenders are captured, processed, then released. Initial reports indicate that a healthy, well-balanced hellbender population, including juveniles, sub-adults and mature adults, occurs only in Tionesta Creek.
WPC achieves accreditation from the Land Trust Accreditation Commission, an independent program of the Land Trust Alliance. Accreditation demonstrates WPC’s compliance with national quality standards and recognizes its sound finances, ethical conduct, responsible governance and lasting stewardship of protected lands.
WPC, with support from Duquesne Light Company, installs a vertical garden on the side of a building in downtown Pittsburgh’s cultural district. The trellis-style garden wall will help to shade the building in summer and reduce winter wind chill.
TreeVitalize Pittsburghcelebrates the planting of its 15,000th tree since its inception in 2008. The initiative, under WPC management, has a goal of planting 20,000 trees by the end of 2013. TreeVitalize Pittsburgh is a joint project of Allegheny County, the City of Pittsburgh, Tree Pittsburgh, PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, and WPC.
Staff botanists complete a study of rare plants. Ninety surveys were conducted, resulting in 75 new and updated rare plant records.
WPC participates in a 12-state effort to monitor the population of the threatened wood turtle. A long-term monitoring site is established in Centre County, which will allow staff and volunteers to study the turtle population over time.
Through an agricultural easement, WPC protects more than 37 acres of farmland at the headwaters of Tubmill Creek in Fairfield Township, Westmoreland County. The watershed is a conservation priority because of its rich aquatic life.
As part of its decades-long effort to protect the French Creek watershed, WPC acquires over four acres along the creek in Venango, Crawford County.
About 100 acres are added to Buchanan State Forest, resulting in better public access to the forest’s Sweet Root Natural Area. The land in southern Bedford County links two a smaller area that contains parking, a picnic area and a trailhead. The acquisition of this property will result in the protection of valuable ecological resources.
Through a conservation easement, WPC permanently protects more than 131 acres in the Laurel Highlands. This large open space sits near seven farms that were already protected by easements, and includes land along Loyalhanna Creek.
On Earth Day, TreeVitalize Pittsburgh volunteers planted the 500th tree in Wilkinsburg. It’s part of the TreeVitalize goal of planting 20,000 trees throughout the greater Pittsburgh area by the end of 2013--; which is reached in November.
The watershed conservation staff planted more than 15,000 seedlings throughout Western Pennsylvania. Ultimately, the project will result in planting 20,000 native trees and shrubs to create riparian buffers.
Opera Theater of Pittsburgh performs the American Opera “Shining Brow” on the terraces of Fallingwater for two memorable nights in June. The piece focuses on tumultuous times in the life of Fallingwater architect Frank Lloyd Wright, and is presented on the 146th anniversary of his birth.
WPC reaches a land conservation milestone when it completes a conservation easement on a family farm in Donegal Township. This brings the total land the Conservancy has permanently protected in the Ligonier Valley to over 10,000 acres through voluntary conservation easements since the 1970s.
WPC initiates a comprehensive multiyear project to evaluate the condition of Pennsylvania’s rare plant and animal habitats in areas with potential Marcellus and Utica Shale drilling. Field researchers establish 80 sites for long-term monitoring of shale drilling sites. More than 60 percent of important habitats in the state, containing nearly 500 threatened and endangered species, are in shale gas regions.
With the help of the Erie mayor’s office and its downtown partnership, WPC takes its tree-planting efforts north, planting about a half dozen swamp white oaks in downtown Erie. In 2014, WPC plans to plant 32 more trees in the city.
In late November, the Fallingwater Museum Store opens a “pop-up” holiday boutique in downtown Pittsburgh. It features gift items from the onsite store, including Frank Lloyd Wright Signature Products such as clocks, vases, and stained glass. The store is open until the end of the year.
A culvert replacement project in the Allegheny National Forest, which began in 2012, continues. The project opens more than eight miles of the upper reaches of the watershed to fish and other organisms that previously were unable to access those areas. Post-project fish surveys show five times more trout present in these stream stretches after the culvert replacements.
WPC purchases two properties totaling 145 acres along the Great Allegheny Passage in Somerset County. The acquisitions enhance the hiking and biking trail that the Conservancy helped create more than 35 years ago and provide access to the nearby Casselman River.
In 2013, the Conservancy also acquired or protected more than 330 acres of woodland, wetland and bird conservation area in Erie and Westmoreland counties.
As part of its ongoing effort to protect French Creek, WPC purchases a 60-acre property in LeBoeuf Township, Erie County. The land provides a forested buffer for the biologically diverse stream, considered one of the most ecologically significant in the northeastern United States.
WPC permanently protects 54 acres of forested wetland in Springfield Township, Erie County, adjacent to the David M. Roderick Nature Reserve. The area includes a habitat for rare dragonflies, and a state Important Bird Area. The land will be added to a State Game Land.
Fallingwater invites high school students and K-12 educators to apply for its one-week summer residency programs. Students participate in camps focusing on architecture, environment, and design in the context of Fallingwater. Teachers learn how architecture and design can help students gain 21st century critical thinking skills.
Roughly 466 acres of forested slopes and riverside land in Chapman and Grugan townships, Clinton County, are protected by WPC’s acquisition and conveyance to the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Bureau of Forestry. A portion of the land stretches along the West Branch, the largest tributary system of the Susquehanna River.
The Conservancy wins a Challenge Award grant from the U.S. Forest Service for its work conducting freshwater mussel surveys in the Clarion River and other major tributaries in the Allegheny Forest. By the end of summer, 16 sites in the river and five in the Kinzua Reservoir are completed; three species of freshwater mussels are documented.
At Presque Isle State Park, Erie County, WPC scientists continue to monitor the Piping plover, a federally listed shore bird. It’s one of many species being monitored to determine if they are affected by climate change, energy development, or other factors.
WPC welcomes springtime to the city by hosting its second annual bulb giveaway at the farmers’ market in downtown Pittsburgh’s Market Square. In 2013, the Conservancy gave away thousands of recycled tulip and daffodil bulbs in 40 minutes. Later in the spring, WPC staff hangs more than 400 flower baskets throughout downtown Pittsburgh.
Staff and volunteers from WPC, Grow Pittsburgh, and Pennsylvania American Water plant fruit trees and berry bushes adjacent to a community vegetable garden in Mt. Oliver Borough.
Fallingwater welcomes two authors of very different books to book signings. Western Pennsylvania legend Dan Rooney, chairman of the Pittsburgh Steelers and North Side native, along with co-author Carol Peterson, signs copies of “Allegheny City: a History of Pittsburgh’s North Side.” Later in the year, author and architect Steven Reiss signs copies of his book “Frank Lloyd Wright’s Pope-Leighey House,” a detailed story of one of Wright’s innovative Usonian-style houses.
More than 17,000 acres of forestland and waterways in Norwich and Sergeant townships, McKean County are permanently conserved as intact working forest, making this protection the single largest land acquisition in WPC’s 83-year history. It is also the largest land addition to the state forest system in 65 years, significantly increasing the amount of state forestland available for hunting, fishing, hiking and other recreational activities.
Ten buildings designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, including Fallingwater, are nominated by the United States to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage List. They are the first works of modern American architecture to be nominated.
WPC conveys almost 1,000 acres in Wharton Township, Fayette County, to the state, for addition to Forbes State Forest. The property serves as a connecter between the state forest and the Fort Necessity Battlefield.
Working with several partnering agencies, WPC moved thousands of federally listed, threatened and endangered freshwater mussel species, as well as common mussels, from the direct impact zone of the Hunter Station Bridge replacement on the Allegheny River near President, Pa. Of the common mussels, 402 individual mussels of eight species were relocated into 10 sites in the Clarion River.
Due to popular demand, Fallingwater’s annual Fayette County Appreciation Day becomes a twice-yearly event, with free admission offered to county residents in March, along with the traditional November Day. In 2014, almost 1,000 people visited on the appreciation day.
Slippery Rock’s North Country Brewing Company of creates Ryeparian Rye Pale Ale, and designates five percent of sales revenue to support WPC’s tree-planting efforts along Western Pennsylvania’s stream banks, also known as riparian zones.
WPC permanently protects 39 acres adjacent to its 202-acre Wolf Creek Narrows Natural Area in Slippery Rock Township, Butler County. It’s the fifth addition to Wolf Creek Narrows since its original acquisition in 1979.
Staff conduct vernal pool surveys to help landowners monitor the health and state of these important breeding sites for amphibians.
The Pennsylvania Natural Heritage Program begins an in-depth survey of Bedford County. Habitats for two state endangered plant species, the tall larkspur and canby’s mountain lover, are of special interest. Both rely on a naturally restricted, limestone-rich habitat.
Landowners Richard and Miriam Williams amend an existing conservation easement, originally donated to WPC in 2009, to include an additional 146 acres atop Jacks Mountain in Granville Township, Mifflin County. The area, a valuable habitat for timber rattlesnakes, forest interior birds, and black bears, now spans 339 acres.
The death of philanthropist Elsie Hillman on August 4 is noted by the Conservancy. Mrs. Hillman and the Hillman Foundation are longtime supporters of the Conservancy. The foundation’s most recent gift supported the creation of an open-air classroom at Fallingwater’s Visitors Center.
Goats from Steel City Grazers visit the hillside above Pittsburgh’s Bates Street Corridor for a few days in September, to naturally rid the area of invasive knotweed.
TreeVitalize Pittsburgh plants a ceremonial tree in Troy Hill to commemorate the 25,000 trees that have been planted in the Pittsburgh area since the program began in 2008. TreeVitalize Pittsburgh is a joint project of WPC, Allegheny County, City of Pittsburgh, Tree Pittsburgh and the PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.
As part of its ongoing commitment to help conserve land along Western Pennsylvania’s portion of the Great Allegheny Passage (GAP) trail, WPC protects more than 138 acres adjacent to WPC’s Casselman River Conservation Area in 2015. The Somerset County conservation area is now more than 280 acres.
WPC scientists work with the Pennsylvania Game Commission to monitor bat populations in the region’s caves during hibernation, when they are susceptible to white nose syndrome, a fatal fungal disease.
WPC, along with the Cultural Trust, PNC Bank and the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership, purchase 21 tons of magnesium chloride, a tree-friendly alternative to rock salt, for downtown Pittsburgh streets and sidewalks.
The Sisters of Charity of Nazareth donate a conservation easement on 32 acres of its property in Dunbar Township, Fayette County. The property has been used by the order for retreats and recreation for more than 60 years. With the easement, wildlife habitat and water quality are permanently protected.
WPC expands its conservation efforts to Potter County, with the acceptance of a conservation easement donation from a Homer Township landowner. The property
is located in the Sinnemahoning Creek watershed and includes mostly forested slopes, wetlands and high-quality streams with substantial beaver dams.
The Pittsburgh Redbud Project, an initiative to plant hundreds of native Eastern redbud trees along the trails, hillsides and parks in view of downtown Pittsburgh’s riverfronts , is launched by WPC with funding from Colcom Foundation. The project’s goal is to plant 1,200 new trees, including redbuds, evergreens, and complimentary trees, by spring 2017.
The Dr. Colson E. Blakeslee Memorial Recreation Area, a 24-acre natural area in Elk County, is dedicated and opened to the public. The site is named in honor and memory of Blakeslee, a local doctor and emeritus WPC board member, fondly known as “Doc,” who died in 2011. Blakeslee was a tireless advocate for conservation efforts in the region.
WPC conserves an additional property along the Great Allegheny Passage with the acquisition of a 329-acre tract in Black Township, Somerset County. The conservancy has now protected 609 acres in the Casselman River Conservation Area.
Land in Pennsylvania’s Laurel Highlands that provides wildlife habitat and scenic views of Laurel Hill State Park in Somerset County is now permanently protected. This land consists of approximately 184 acres in Middlecreek Township, Somerset County and was transferred the property to the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Bureau of State Parks. The area becomes a permanent addition to Laurel Hill State Park.
A new population of upland chorus frog is found during a Natural Heritage Inventory update in Bedford County. The frog is an endangered species, with fewer than five populations known through the state.
The World Heritage Committee of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) votes to refer the United States’ submission to the World Heritage List for future consideration. The nomination, a collection of 10 buildings designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, includes Fallingwater.
In September, a new field office opens in Franklin, Venango County. It serves as a hub for WPC’s efforts in Northwestern Pennsylvania communities, where it has protected more than 40,000 acres of land to date.
WPC and its partners complete the relocation of thousands of mussels from the Hunter Station Bridge demolition site on the Allegheny River near Tionesta to the Clarion River. Approximately 400 mussels were moved there in 2015 and showed a 95 percent survival rate.
WPC successfully completes the Our Shared Legacy campaign, the first comprehensive fundraising campaign in the Conservancy’s 84-year history. More than 24,000 people, foundations and corporations contributed to the campaign over a five-year period. These donors made 65,000 gifts totaling $59 million in private funding to support WPC.
WPC’s work to conserve French Creek, documented as having the highest level of aquatic biodiversity of any stream of its size in the Northeastern United States, continues in 2016. A total of 436 acres in Crawford County are protected and made available for recreational use.
WPC accepts the donation of its first conservation easement from Centre County. The 186-acre property in Haines Township will continue as a working farm. The Conservancy co-holds the easement with the Centre County Farmland Trust.
WPC watershed staff surveyed 14 new streams for hellbender salamanders, conducted 94 unassessed water surveys to detect the presence of native brook trout, and performed 76 miles of visual assessments to identify watershed improvement needs and potential threats in local waterways.
The Conservancy protects more than 156 acres in Bedford County, which are transferred to the PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) Bureau of Forestry to become a new addition to Buchanan State Forest. The forest now spans almost 70,000 acres across Franklin, Fulton and Bedford counties.
Along with the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation and other Wright-designed public buildings across the country, Fallingwater celebrates Frank Lloyd Wright’s 150th birthday year throughout 2017. In addition to a special series of lectures, Fallingwater hosts “Wright for Wright,” an exhibition focusing on the homes Wright designed for himself. Commemorative items are offered at the museum store, and the café serves items based on Wright’s favorite foods, including birthday cake.
WPC protects 120 acres in Miles Township, Centre County, including a forested riparian buffer along a portion of Elk Creek. The creek, a tributary to Penns Creek, is in the Chesapeake Bay watershed.
WPC’s land trust accreditation from the Land Trust Accreditation Commission, an independent program of the Land Trust Alliance, is renewed. First accredited in 2012, the Conservancy is one of 389 accredited land trusts nationwide. The commission, an independent program of the land Trust Alliance, awards the accreditation seal to organizations that meet rigorous quality standards and strive for continuous improvement.
With support from WPC members and residents Nelson and Carol Craige, the Garden Club of Allegheny County, and Rivers Casino, WPC introduces its latest community garden, along Ohio River Boulevard near the North Shore.
Hickman Chapel, a fixture along Route 381/National Scenic Byway near Fallingwater in Fayette County, is donated to WPC for restoration and preservation. Built in 1901, the chapel hosted its last worship service in the 1980s.
WPC acquires oil and gas rights to 89 acres of its 107-acre Tryon-Weber Woods Natural Area in Sadsbury Township, Crawford County. The acquisition eliminates any future surface disturbance from oil and gas extraction on this natural area. A mature 40-acre beech-sugar maple stand within the natural area, where some trees are around 100 feet tall and at least 90 to 120 years old, is thought to be the last remaining of its kind in Western Pennsylvania and the easternmost stand in the national range for this type of forest.
A limestone cave system to be used for bat conservation is part of 13 acres protected by WPC in Franklin Township, Huntingdon County. Once known as Indian Caverns, the cave system will be restored as shelter for cave-dwelling bats, which have been decimated by disease. The protection also helps provide access 1,200 feet of public fishing access to the renowned Spruce Creek.
In addition to these acquisitions, WPC also protects almost 450 acres across the region, including 145 acres to be added to Laurel Ridge Park in Westmoreland County; 92 acres along French Creek, Crawford County; and other areas in Somerset, Crawford and Westmoreland counties.
After more than 40 years of working at Fallingwater in various capacities, Lynda Waggoner announces that she will retire as director of Fallingwater and WPC vice president in early 2018. Waggoner, who first came to Fallingwater as a teenage tour guide in 1965, has served as its director since 1996.
An 84-acre natural area was protected in Addison Township, Somerset County, and is now open to the public for hiking, fishing and nature watching along Whites Creek.
James L. Stuart
1932 - 1946
Charles F. Chubb
1946 - 1956
Charles F. Lewis
1957 - 1969
Joshua C. Whetzel. Jr.
1969 - 1978
John C. Oliver
1978 - 1995
1996 - 2004
2005 - 2006
2007 - Present