Significant progress was made on the community conservation project to permanently preserve the meadows, woodlands and paved trails of the defunct Churchill Valley Country Club as a 148-acre greenway for public recreation and environmental education in July with the awarding of grants from the Sierra Club ($25,000) and The Colcom Foundation ($125,000). These two grants, in combination with the $150,000 grant awarded by The Pittsburgh Foundation in June, represent a combined total of $300,000 of new private funding infused into the project so far this summer.
“We’re extremely excited about these most recent grants,” said Allegheny Land Trust’s President & CEO Chris Beichner. “Not only do they get us that much closer to making the Churchill Valley Greenway a reality, they also demonstrate the collaboration required to make it happen,” he said explaining that funding for the project is coming from individuals in the community, non-profit organizations, private foundations, and public funding sources.
Beichner noted that in addition to this summer’s grants, ALT has received more than $129,000 in donations from individuals in the local community, grants from other organizations and foundations, a previous grant from the Sierra Club, and funding from the PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and the Allegheny County Redevelopment Authority. A total of $1,150,888 has been raised to-date toward the $3 million needed to complete the acquisition.
“We are pleased to be able to support this project with Huplits Wildlife Foundation Grants in 2019 and 2020 because of it’s amazing potential as much needed green space in a suburban setting providing unique opportunities for outdoor recreation for people of all abilities and backgrounds while permanently protecting important plant and animal habitat in an otherwise developed area,” said Barbara Grover, Chair of the Huplits Wildlife Grants Committee of the Allegheny Group of the Sierra Club.
ALT has the property under contract to purchase contingent upon its ability to raise the necessary funding by March 2021. Beichner said additional grant requests totaling in excess of $2 million have been submitted to various funding sources and discussions are on-going with several other foundations and potential corporate sponsors to close the final gap.
The Churchill Valley Greenway conservation project is endorsed by Senator Jay Costa, Representative Summer Lee, the Churchill Borough Council, and a wide range of community groups and civic organizations. The land and its trails are already being enjoyed informally by many neighbors for hiking, biking, strolling and bird watching.
The need for more close-to-home green space like the Churchill Valley Greenway has been clearly demonstrated during the current pandemic as people have flocked in record numbers to conservation areas, parks and trails seeking places to exercise, find solace in nature or simply to get some fresh air while practicing safe social distancing.
Located in a Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection-designated “Environmental Justice Area,” the greenway would provide equitable, convenient and permanent access to the restorative benefits of nature to the 95,000 people who live within a 3-mile radius and to all residents of Southwestern Pennsylvania.
Those interested in supporting the conservation project can choose “Churchill Valley Greenway Project” on ALT’s online donation form here: