"Fallingwater in Focus"

Conserving the Region that Inspired Frank Lloyd Wright

It is impossible to imagine Fallingwater in any context other than the Laurel Highlands. This picturesque region of Western Pennsylvania provided the inspiration for Frank Lloyd Wright’s masterwork – and today, it continues to inspire millions of nature lovers each year.

The Former Pressley Ridge Property

The Western Pennsylvania Conservancy has been active in the Laurel Highlands for more than five decades, working to permanently protect more than 78,000 acres of ridges, valleys, forests and waterways in this beloved region and provide shelter for its native plants, animals and aquatic life. This conservation work is more important today than ever before, as development pressure in this popular area puts the Laurel Highlands’ remaining wild, natural areas at risk.

With the help of members and supporters, WPC made additional great strides in 2008 to protect valuable lands and waters in the Laurel Highlands. Through acquisitions as well as voluntary conservation agreements with private landowners, WPC protected approximately 5,000 acres in the region in 2008. The vast majority of these properties will be available to the public for recreation, such as hiking, camping, fishing and hunting – and will help to support a growing, nearly $1 billion tourism industry in the Laurel Highlands.

Properties recently conserved by WPC in the Laurel Highlands include:

A 1,300-acre addition to Ohiopyle State Park. Formerly owned by Pressley Ridge, a Pittsburgh-based nonprofit organization focused on youth, this large, forested property offers great recreational opportunities – and holds significant conservation value. In addition, it connects previously acquired WPC lands to Ohiopyle State Park, creating a protected landscape of more than 22,000 acres.
The parcel includes a fishing pond, a rope course and multiple trails and cabins that will be available to the public. Purchased by WPC on December 23, 2008 and funded in part with a $1 million gift from the B.K. Simon family, the land was subsequently transferred to the Commonwealth. A portion of this beautiful forest will be named the B.K. Simon Family Forest to commemorate the family’s gift, which was given in memory of B. Kenneth Simon, a Pittsburgh businessman who founded All-Pak Inc. and held several patents. Mr. Simon was a philanthropist and a longtime member of WPC.

A 928-acre addition to Prince Gallitzin State Forest. Located in Jackson Township, Cambria County, this land was acquired by WPC on December 18, 2008. The purchase supports WPC’s ongoing efforts to connect large tracts of forestland in the Laurel Highlands. It nearly connects a large property that had been conserved in 2006 with state forestland along the Conemaugh Gorge, including the 250-acre Ferguson Valley Hardwoods addition acquired by the Conservancy in 2005.
WPC conveyed this land to the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) Bureau of Forestry, which will manage the forest in cooperation with the Ruffed Grouse Society.

19-acres connecting Ohiopyle State Park to Kentuck Knob. On September 15, 2008, WPC acquired this Fayette County parcel, which provides magnificent views of Sugarloaf Knob, a popular hiking, biking and snowmobiling trail. The property, which was conveyed to DCNR upon closing, permanently conserves the land between Ohiopyle and another Frank Lloyd Wrightdesigned residence, Kentuck Knob.

172-acre agricultural easement. Located in Donegal Township, Westmoreland County, this working farm was permanently protected through an agricultural easement, a voluntary agreement with the landowner that permanently restricts development of the land. The land includes 2,500 feet of frontage on the Upper Loyalhanna Creek, a priority stream segment for WPC, as well as valuable low-elevation forestland. It is less than one mile away from Forbes State Forest.
WPC acquired the easement on this farm, which restricts future uses to agriculture and forestry, in collaboration with the Westmoreland County Agricultural Lands Preservation Board (WCALP).

The 85-acre Town’s Edge Farm. This property, which is adjacent to Ligonier Borough in Westmoreland County, has been farmed continuously since the early 1800s and was purchased by Bill and Debbie Snyder in 2004. The farm includes 1,000 feet of frontage on a stream that drains directly into the Upper Loyalhanna Creek. Due to its location and access to public water and sewer lines, this farm had been at risk for development, but the Snyders purchased the property with the intent to maintain it as a working farm. The agricultural easement acquired by WPC on December 30, 2008 in partnership with WCALP helps them permanently protect their farm for agriculture or forestry.
The Town’s Edge farm also serves as a model of sustainable farming practices, which were implemented through a fruitful collaboration between the Snyders and WPC’s Watershed Conservation staff members. The family raises hormone-free beef cattle, hogs, turkey and chickens on the farm and continues to implement innovative techniques to minimize the impacts of farming on the environment.

The significant, lasting conservation outcomes achieved by WPC in 2008 will help to ensure that future generations will experience the splendor of the Laurel Highlands as Frank Lloyd Wright did more than 75 years ago. The Conservancy continues to place a high priority on this region – and expects to protect additional ecologically significant and beautiful places in the Laurel Highlands in 2009.

A Donegal Township Farm

2009 Members' Day and
Annual Meeting

WPC invites our members to celebrate what we’ve accomplished together. We’d also like to thank you for your loyal membership support.

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The Fallingwater Cookbook

The Fallingwater Cookbook takes readers into the kitchen of Fallingwater and the world of the Kaufmanns, who entertained many famous guests at their weekend retreat.

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Safeguard Your Future

For 77 years, the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy has protected this region’s land, water and wildlife. We haven’t done it alone – as a loyal member, you have played a vital part.

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Become a Member

Our commitment to protect the land, water and life of Western Pennsylvania could not continue without the generous support of members like you.

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Volunteer with WPC

Volunteering is an excellent way for WPC members or other concerned citizens to become actively involved. Become a volunteer today!

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