Allegheny Land Trust finalized the acquisition of 155 acres of green space located in Reserve Township on March 30.

“The community effort behind protecting this green space was robust, inspiring and instrumental in our success. It was a great opportunity for the residents and businesses of Reserve, Millvale Borough and Shaler Township to work together to protect a large, forested area within a rapidly-urbanized region,” said ALT President & CEO Christopher Beichner.

The campaign was launched at the beginning of the pandemic, leaving ALT and the community concerned about the fate of the project, which required the raising of $703,546 to close. The funding plan relied on at least $40,000 from the surrounding community during an unstable time. However, as other funding sources fell through, the community went above and beyond the goal.

By the campaign’s end, approximately 650 residents donated more than $88,000. The project also received funding from the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (PA DCNR), the Redevelopment Authority of Allegheny County, the Triboro Ecodistrict, Malone Foundation, Posner Foundation, Millvale Borough and from 34 local businesses and organizations.

“We were blown away by the community’s efforts to save Girty’s Woods,” Beichner said. “So many individuals, organizations and local businesses stepped up in difficult financial times to help ensure this land would be protected and improve the quality of life not only for residents today, but also for generations to come.”

The permanent protection of Girty’s Woods will preserve natural scenic beauty, provide close-to-home outdoor recreation and environmental education opportunities, absorb rainwater that would otherwise overwhelm Girty’s Run watershed, protect wildlife habitat for a variety of native flora and fauna already calling the green space home, maintain and improve air and water quality and increase neighboring property values to contribute to the area’s resiliency and sustainability.

“The campaign to Save Girty’s Woods was all heart. At a time when so many are struggling, neighbors of all ages and backgrounds worked tirelessly and together to save our woods,” Triboro Ecodistrict Director Brian Wolovich said. “It is inspiring to see what we can accomplish when we focus on what unites us, instead of what divides us.”

The area has been explored by and cared for by neighbors for years, and a network of informal trails winds through the green space passing scenic overlooks, open fields, wetland areas and a biodiverse forest that supports a variety of documented native birds, mammals and tree species. Located only 3.5 miles from Point State Park, the land is a short walk from thousands of Reserve, Millvale and Shaler residents’ homes.

“This is the culmination of an incredible effort by Allegheny Land Trust and several highly motivated groups of community members who recognize the extreme value of to the Girty’s Woods project. This initiative will not only benefit our environment, but it will connect our people to their public parks, improve public health and strengthen community bonds,” State Representative Sara Innamorato said. “I want to thank everyone involved for preserving this space to create the next generation of environmental stewards to protect our most precious public goods – our water, air, and open spaces.”

ALT will now begin fulfilling national land trust accreditation requirements for the site and addressing stewardship needs on the land.