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Moon donates 17 acres to expand green space

| Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Keith Hodan | Tribune-Review
Rich Dahlgren, of Bulger, Cindy Rice, of Richland, and Laurie Plummer, of Coraopolis (front to back,) ride in the Montour Woods Conservation Area, Tuesday, September 10, 2013.
Keith Hodan | Tribune-Review
Gary Rigdon, of McCandless, operations manager for the Hollow Oak Land Trust, and Cindy Rice, of Richland, hike along the new Oil Well Trail in the Montour Woods Conservation Area, Tuesday, September 10, 2013.

A local land trust's efforts to expand green space for recreational use are getting a boost from Moon Township.

Moon is donating 17 acres to the 260-acre Montour Woods Conservation Area, which is owned by the Moon-based nonprofit Hollow Oak Land Trust, said Gary Rigdon, the land trust's operations manager.

The donation still must be formally approved by Moon's board of supervisors, township Manager Jeanne Creese said.

“The board is considering the donation part of their mission as administrators of public property, and (land trust leaders) are partnering with the township to develop trails,” she said.

The land trust plans to use the donated land to establish a network of 10 miles of public hiking and biking trails, called the Montour Woods Greenway, that will link the 300-acre Moon Township Park, the 46-mile Montour Trail and the conservation area.

This summer, Hollow Oak staff and volunteers and volunteers from Robert Morris University, Allegheny CleanWays and the Pittsburgh Trails Advocacy Group worked to build the trail network and remove trash from the conservation area, Rigdon said. The trails are expected to be finished in 2014.

One recently completed trail in the network is the Oil Well Trail, a 2-mile section where volunteers removed pipes, tanks and other debris remaining from a former oil well built in the 1800s.

“As the construction was completed, we came across a lot of trash and dumped materials,” Rigdon said.

Last month, Moon Township Parks hauled away 3,180 pounds of scrap metal from the conservation area. The township is giving the $331 in proceeds from the sale of the metal to the land trust to support its efforts.

The land trust is using grants — $20,000 from the Heinz Endowments and $50,000 from the Colcom Foundation — to build the greenway, Rigdon said.

The greenway will provide a valuable recreational outlet for local residents, said Coraopolis resident Laurie Plummer, who is treasurer of the land trust.

“I see it as an amenity that people will want to take advantage of for exercise, for walking their pets ... this area will be open for hunting, which will help with the deer problem,” said Plummer, who bikes in the conservation area.

Founded in 1991, the land trust owns six conservation areas totaling more than 400 acres in Moon, Kennedy, Franklin Park, North Fayette and Robinson.

Tory N. Parrish is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-380-5662 or tparrish@tribweb.com.

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