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Allegheny Land Trust looks to add 70 acres in Sewickley Valley

| Monday, Oct. 2, 2017, 11:00 p.m.

Allegheny Land Trust is looking to raise $27,000 in order to purchase and protect 70 acres in the Big Sewickley Creek and Little Sewickley Creek watersheds.

The Sewickley-based land trust currently has pending grants with the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources totaling $250,000 to acquire these three parcels, land trust spokeswoman Lindsay Dill said.

The land trust has raised $223,000 toward the match required by DCNR, and now needs support from the surrounding neighborhoods and communities to raise the remaining amount in order to close on the land by the end of 2017.

“We've done this a number of times and it seems that (the support) depends on what community we are working in,” said Roy Kraynyk, the vice president of land and capital projects for the land trust. “People don't want to lose what they already have.”

Kraynyk said these properties are less high profile than other parcels the nonprofit group has acquired recently, but they have the potential to be part of a greater puzzle in connecting existing parks and greenspace.

If acquired, this land can help create a 2,000-acre greenway spanning other protected lands in Franklin Park, Bell Acres, Sewickley Heights, Sewickley Hills, Leetsdale and Edgeworth.

“We've got to make a case that these properties are providing a benefit to the community,” Kraynyk said. “There's value in the beauty and the wildlife habitat.”

There are three parcels within this 70 acres which are scenic and visible from the highways in the Sewickley Valley.

The largest of the three parcels is 50 acres and it has the most ecological value, Kraynyk said.

Another piece is surrounded on three sides by property that already is owned by the land trust. A third piece is between a public park and another property owned by the land trust. The water quality is high, as is the wildlife habitat.

“We see the value in protecting the water,” Dill said. “It helps absorb rain water and prevent more pollution in the watershed.”

A few years ago, the land trust acquired space in Lyndbrook Acres, adjacent to Lyndbrook Park in Franklin Park. Kraynyk said that helped raise awareness in the community of what his program does and how they can affect nature in the area.

A resident approached the land trust within the past two years about protecting the 70 acres the land trust hopes to officially acquire.

“The natural attributes are what drew us to this,” Kraynyk said. “Once we saw what it looked like, we were very interested in acquiring it.”

Since 2001, the land trust has protected more than 630 acres in the Big Sewickley Creek and Little Sewickley Creek watersheds.

Matthew Peaslee is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.

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