Fairfield Township, Pa. – Dec. 21, 2017 – More than 105 acres of land have been added to Laurel Ridge State Park in Westmoreland County, thanks to a purchase made by the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy today. This purchase brings the state park to 13,730 acres, spanning across Cambria, Fayette, Somerset and Westmoreland counties.
The Fairfield Township property was purchased from the Sisters of Saint Joseph of Baden, a Catholic congregation serving primarily in Western Pennsylvania. The tract is adjacent to a 627-acre parcel that was first acquired by the Conservancy in 1966 and conveyed to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in 1969 to become the state park.
“The Sisters of St. Joseph are grateful for this opportunity to partner with the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy,” says Sister Mary Pellegrino, congregational moderator. “We are pleased that this partnership allows us to advance our mission to preserve our natural resources, respect all of God’s creation and contribute to the sustainability of Earth.”
Adding this forested land to Laurel Ridge State Park will protect the water quality in important local, recreational fisheries in the North Fork of the Mill Creek watershed, which is a sub-watershed of Loyalhanna Creek. There is more than 3,400 feet of stream frontage on the property.
Mill Creek is a High Quality Cold Water Fishery that supports wild brook trout, making it a popular fishing destination for local anglers. In addition to protecting fishing opportunities in the area, adding this parcel to Laurel Ridge State Park will expand opportunities for hiking, cross-country skiing, bird watching and hunting. The property is also known for hosting interior-nesting songbirds like the scarlet tanager and cerulean warbler.
The Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail corridor, which the Conservancy played a key role in establishing along Laurel Ridge in the 1960s and 70s, is within walking distance from the property. Acquisition of the tract will provide additional protection of undeveloped buffers near the trail corridor.
“We are glad to be able to acquire this property for Laurel Ridge State Park. It provides sweeping views of the forests and ridges in the area and adds to the forest protection in this part of the Laurel Highlands,” said Tom Saunders, president and CEO of the Conservancy.
Conservation of this land was made possible thanks to a PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Community Conservation Partnership Program grant, a PA Department of Environmental Protection’s Riparian Access grant and the Richard King Mellon Foundation. A gift from McFeely-Rogers Fund also assisted the purchase.
Photos and a map have been made available courtesy of the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy:
About the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy:
The Western Pennsylvania Conservancy (WPC) enhances the region by protecting and restoring exceptional places. A private nonprofit conservation organization founded in 1932, WPC has helped to establish 10 state parks, conserved more than a quarter million acres of natural lands and protected or restored more than 3,000 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 132 community gardens and other green spaces that are planted with the help of about 12,000 volunteers. The work of the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy is accomplished through the support of more than 10,000 members. For more information, visit WaterLandLife.org or Fallingwater.org.