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Sewickley-based land trust property named wild plant sanctuary

| Monday, Feb. 13, 2017, 11:00 p.m.

The largest privately-protected conservation area in Allegheny County has been designated as part of the Wild Plant Sanctuary program by the state Department of Conservation and National Resources.

Sewickley-based Allegheny Land Trust owns and operates the 450-acre Dead Man's Hollow, which sits along the Great Allegheny Passage in McKeesport and boasts an abundant wildflower population.

“Dead Man's Hollow has a large interior forest, which is pretty unique for Allegheny County,” said Keri Rouse, the community coordinator for the nonprofit land conservation group. “It's impressive in that it offers a different kind of habitat condition.”

The goal of the Wild Plant Sanctuary program is to acknowledge private land owners for conserving and providing habitat for native plant species, according to DCNR.

The area includes trillium, Jack in the Pulpit, Virginia bluebells, May apples and spring wildflowers.

“The hollow has no rare or threatened species,” Rouse said, “though it does provide habitat that would support those species.”

A full-time staff and many volunteers work in the upkeep of Dead Man's Hollow, while implementing management plans. Recent projects have included invasive plant removal and rerouting of the six-mile trail network through the hollow.

“We're building more sustainable trails,” Rouse said. “There's sensitive ecological areas, and we want to divert people away from those areas when they're walking.”

In the spring, during the peak wildflower blooming season, a designation ceremony will be held to honor the Wild Plant Sanctuary program. A wildflower identification walk also will be held.

The land trust has worked to preserve more than 2,000 acres across Allegheny and Washington counties, including nearly 600 acres across the Sewickley Valley. Last month, the land trust announced it had been given the 76-acre Devil's Hollow in Bell Acres adjacent to Sewickley Heights Borough Park.

Matthew Peaslee is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.

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