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 received another major boost last week when the PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) awarded a $1,000,000 grant to Allegheny Land Trust (ALT) for the acquisition of the land.
“It would be impossible to overstate the importance of this most recent grant award from DCNR,” said ALT’s President & CEO Chris Beichner. “This is an enormous boost for the project–coming on the heels of the $300,000 of recently awarded private grant funding and continued donations from the community the Churchill Valley Greenway is much, much closer to becoming a reality,” Beichner said. “We truly appreciate the DCNR’s support of this important community conservation project, and also the support of the elected officials that helped to make it happen.”
The recent DCNR grant pushes the current total raised from residents, local businesses, private foundations, the Allegheny County Redevelopment Authority, and the Commonwealth of PA to more than $2,175,000. ALT has the property under contract to purchase and permanently protect contingent upon its ability to raise the $3,000,000 necessary by March 2021. Additional grant requests are pending, and discussions are on-going with potential corporate sponsors and other funders in attempt to close the $800,000 gap by the early 2021 deadline.
“I am happy to help move this project forward and very pleased that DCNR was able to provide this level of support,” said PA State Senator Jay Costa (43rd District). State Representative Summer Lee (34th District) said “the protection of the Churchill Valley Greenway will improve the quality of life in our communities and I’m excited to support its progress.” In addition to Costa and Lee, the Greenway project is endorsed by the Churchill Borough Council and a wide range of community groups and civic organizations.
The land and the trails of the proposed Churchill Valley Greenway are already being enjoyed informally by residents of all ages, interests and abilities for walking, biking, bird watching, and other outdoor pursuits, and the current pandemic has only underscored the need for its protection. The proposed greenway, like other parks and trails, has experienced a dramatic increase in visitors in recent months as people flock in record numbers 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: alleghenylandtrust.org/donate