Allegheny Land Trust adds local acres

| Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2012, 8:58 p.m.

About 100 acres of land has been given to the Allegheny Land Trust, including 10 acres in Sewickley Heights that executive director Chris Beichner said has been on trust's radar screen for the last decade.

The property is located near the headwaters of the Little Sewickley Creek Watershed, which has been determined to be “very special” through a 1994 report called the Allegheny County Natural Heritage Inventory.

The “very special” designation means the watershed is an “exceptional significance biological diversity area,” Beichner said.

The anonymous gift has increased the trust's number of protected properties to six in the Quaker Valley area, totaling more than 165 acres.

The goal is to make a connection between this newly donated property with property already owned by the trust and municipal parks to create a large, “green footprint” in the community, he said. By doing this, the protected land will maintain a high water quality, provide recreational trails, increase property values and provide scenic beauty to the community, Beichner said.

In 2010, the Allegheny Land Trust conducted a land use study called the Sewickley Heights Vision Plan that identified lands critical to protect and maintain the scenic and historical character and recreational and natural assets of the community. Since then, ALT has protected three properties that contribute to what the study refers to as the cultural landscape.

Recent research by Duquesne University has determined the water of Little Sewickley Creek to be of exceptional quality and it might be the cleanest in Allegheny County, Beichner said. The abundant green space within the watershed helps to maintain water quality by acting like a sponge to absorb and filter water that either soaks into the ground or flows directly into the creek, he said.

The trust also received a gift of 88 acres of wooded property in Marshall Township donated by RT Partners LP. The property is adjacent to the Venango Trails residential development currently under construction.

The property is at the headwaters of the Brush Creek watershed and has many springs, spring seeps and mature hardwoods.

The land will be available to the public for recreation such as hiking. A section of the historic Venango Trial exists on the property that once connected the “Forks of the Ohio” with Presque Isle. The land is visible from the Pennsylvania Turnpike, and in addition to providing scenic beauty, the dense woodlands will help to buffer highway noise for surrounding residents, Beichner said.

In 2012, 125 acres of high-quality green space were given to the trust that now has conserved more than 1,600 acres of land in 23 municipalities.

“Municipal support for our land conservation work has grown substantially over the years,” Beichner said.

“Municipal leaders and engineers acknowledge the important benefits green space provides a community in the form of recreational opportunities, scenic beauty and the water absorbing ability of natural lands.

Formed in 1993, the mission of the trust is to serve as the lead land trust conserving and stewarding lands that support the scenic, recreational and environmental well-being of communities in Allegheny County and its environs.

Joanne Barron is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-324-1406 or

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