"Science and Research"

Message from the President

Thomas D. Saunders

The Western Pennsylvania Conservancy has a breadth and depth of programs that is rare among the nation’s almost 1,700 conservancies and land trusts.

Across Western Pennsylvania, the Conservancy implements land conservation efforts; protects and restores the region’s rivers, streams and watersheds; works to protect the state’s rare, threatened and endangered species and their habitats; owns, preserves and shares Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater; plants street trees in large numbers; plants and sustains nearly 140 gardens across Pittsburgh and 20 surrounding counties; and “greens” Pittsburgh’s downtown with landscape, hanging baskets and planters.

But there is one aspect of our work that makes the Conservancy stand out among other land trusts or conservancies: we inform all of our work with sound science. We are fortunate to have a staff of experts that guide our work and improve our outcomes.

This is true for each program of the Conservancy. In our Watershed Conservation Program, for example, we prioritize projects, collect data about stream health, and monitor impacts and long-range effectiveness through our scientific data collection and assessment.

In our Pennsylvania Natural Heritage program, Conservancy staff and partners provide a multi-county inventory of plants and animal species of concern that crosses over the Commonwealth’s many counties, researched and assembled by our ecologists and now available to the public online. Conservancy scientists conduct extensive field research and data collection to create this important information resource and planning tool.

At Fallingwater, our work is guided by technical preservation expertise, including knowledge about best practices. This is true for the residence and also for the collection of furnishings, objects and archival materials.

Our scientists help to inform the decisions of the Conservancy’s land conservation staff about the 230,000 acres of open space we have protected to date and the approximately 50 land protection projects underway currently. Conservation science helps guide decision-making about which properties to protect, and then about management of the properties once protected.

This issue of Conserve provides insight into these and other examples of the science work, and the talented science staff, at the Conservancy. We appreciate your support as members of the Conservancy, which allows this important work to continue with such significant impact.

Thomas D. Saunders
Thomas Saunders
President and CEO

WPC’s Members’ Fall Hike

Fall is a great time to get outdoors in Western Pennsylvania! Join WPC naturalists on this autumn afternoon in the Laurel Highlands.