Turtle Creek Park in East Buffalo Township is 79 acres of woodlands, hills, fields, streams, and wetlands. It is one of the last large parcels of open land in the township. Bordering Furnace Road, it stretches from Supplee Mill Road to just west of Route 15. For years, the site was officially Turtle Creek Park. But for most visitors, with or without pups, it was simply “the dog park,” a diverse wildlife habitat loved for its openness and wild character. The Turtle Creek Park Association caringly tended the property.

Those who saw the land as their space—a place for humans and dogs alike to experience nature and interact with others—were stunned in 2018 by the announcement that the property’s owner—Hallowing Run Youth Organization—was planning to sell the park to the Lewisburg Alliance Church. Following the sale, the park’s fenced-in dog plot was removed and 35 acres of trees were clear-cut . This was in anticipation of development that would include a church complex, gymnasium, and soccer fields. Visitors, however, were still welcome to walk the trails and bring dogs on leash.

But by 2022, the Lewisburg Alliance Church’s vision had changed. Two years of COVID-19, 4 years of mortgage payments, and the extent of the property’s wetland areas had shifted perspectives on building project. With a new pastor on board, church leaders approached the East Buffalo Twp. Supervisors—Jim Knight, Katie Evans, and former Turtle Creek Park Association board member Char Gray—who were determined to acquire and protect the land as an East Buffalo Twp. public park. Since then the supervisors have purchased and taken possession of the 79 acres at a price of $950,000. EBT received a $300,000 gift from the Degenstein Foundation and a $685,000 grant from the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

Merrill Linn Conservancy and EBT worked together to craft a conservation easement. As the Turtle Creek Park easement document was written, as many as six to seven Conservancy Site/Stewardship committee members were at the table, while as many as three East Buffalo Twp. Supervisors were present. That was an advantage in drawing out a wide variety of ideas and opinions during the easement writing process.


This post adapted from a release from the Merrill W. Linn Land & Waterways Conservancy.