The Western Pennsylvania Conservancy announced the purchase of conservation easements to permanently protect and limit development on two forested properties, totaling 163 acres, within the Ligonier Valley of Westmoreland County.

One of the easements (pictured above) is on approximately 33 acres in Cook Township and now a new addition to an existing 289-acre property the Conservancy protected in 2022 along headwater streams within the Fourmile Run watershed. The property is located within the Campbelle Run Natural Heritage Area, which is an area of high biodiversity and hosts important native habitats that support species of special concern. The other easement (pictured below) protects a 130-acre woodland property in Unity Township that provides a forested buffer along an unnamed tributary to Ninemile Run. Both properties further enhance forest connectivity, safeguard water quality and shield wildlife habitat, and are surrounded by other large tracts of forestland along Chestnut Ridge. The streams the properties protect are located within the larger watershed of Loyalhanna Creek, a 50-mile-long wild trout stream and tributary to the Kiski River.

“This project is a continuation of efforts by the Conservancy to further protect priority riparian lands, streams and wildlife habitat corridors within the Laurel Highlands,” says Conservancy President and CEO Tom Saunders. “These conservation easements ensure that this land in private ownership will remain natural and forested for generations to come.”

Conservation of these properties was made possible thanks to grants from the Richard King Mellon Foundation, Hillman FoundationKatherine Mabis McKenna Foundation and Babcock CharitableTrust. To date, Western Pennsylvania Conservancy has permanently protected nearly 27,000 acres of land in the Ligonier Valley, of which more than 10,000 are through conservation easements.