The Western Pennsylvania Conservancy announced the permanent protection of a 100-acre property in Penn Township, Clearfield County through a donated conservation easement from Jane McCartney, a Sister of Mercy.

The property is bordered by approximately 6,000 feet of stream frontage along Bell Run, a tributary in the headwaters of the West Branch Susquehanna River. The stream has conservation significance as it supports naturally reproducing populations of trout, which require a healthy cold water habitat. The PA Fish and Boat Commission has designated it as Wild Trout Waters.

Sr. McCartney’s donated conservation easement ensures the permanent protection of this land, which safeguards the mostly forested riparian area along the run that is dominated by native eastern hemlocks. The forest’s northern and southern portions includes mixed hardwoods and the middle has thick stands of pine and hemlock. Water quality and scenic views from public roads are also now protected.

This donated conservation easement, the first for WPC from a private landowner in Clearfield County, legally restricts future subdivision and development on the land. Sr. McCartney grew up exploring the property’s woods and swinging from its grape vines; her father purchased the property approximately 50 years ago with the intent to keep the forest and stream buffer intact in perpetuity. She is glad to permanently protect her family’s homestead – giving the land back to nature and fulfilling her father’s wish.

“This was important for me to do because of my family connection to this land and the Sisters of Mercy commitment to care for the Earth,” she adds. “Our order makes personal and community choices and advocates to ensure the right to water for everyone and to do all we can to address the climate change crisis. This act of stewardship is my way of giving to future generations of wildlife and people.”

According to Conservancy President and CEO Thomas Saunders, the property’s location along a headwaters tributary of the West Branch Susquehanna River makes it a conservation priority for the Conservancy.

“This donation of a conservation easement permanently protects this beautiful property,” says Saunders. “We are glad this streamside property and forest is now protected, and greatly appreciate Sr. McCartney’s generosity and conservation ethic.”