More forestland along the Allegheny River in President Township, Venango County is now permanently protected, thanks to a donation of a conservation easement on 309 acres to the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy.

The private property has fields and is mostly forested with a mix of white pine, black cherry, and red maple, and is bordered to the south by the Allegheny River—a federally designated Wild and Scenic River and Pennsylvania’s 2017 River of the Year. Johnston Run flows through the property; the stream is designated Exceptional Value Waters by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection because of its excellent water quality. The property also provides and protects the scenic forested views from the popular Allegheny River Water Trail and other public right-of-ways.

The property has been in Court Gould’s family for seven generations. As the landowner and someone who has made a career in sustainability and conservation, Court said it was extremely important to his family to protect the large forest from subdivision and ensure it will remain intact—for the natural habitats, the environment, and future generations. Court says this easement also honors his father, Rodney Gould, whose youth and life ethic were shaped by early days on the land.

“Long before my ancestors settled on this land, it belonged to the Paleo-Indians who inhabited our land and river valleys for centuries. We possessed the land, but ultimately it belongs to nature to benefit us all. It’s up to us to be good stewards while land is in our care. Through this donation, we’re doing just that,” Court added.

The conservation easement allows Court to continue owning his land, while the Conservancy ensures that the deed restrictions to permanently protect the property’s rich water and forest resources by limiting future development are honored.

“Water is all around us, but clean water is a commodity that we have to continue to make a priority and can’t take for granted,” Court said. “It’s my hope that other landowners in the region will think about conserving their land, too, for the health of our region’s rivers, streams and forests.”

Tom Saunders, president and CEO of the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, said the staff and board greatly appreciate the opportunity to ensure Court’s family land will remain protected in perpetuity.

“This is a beautiful property on the Allegheny River, near other lands protected by the Conservancy, and we have been pleased to work with the Gould family to protect this property,” says Saunders.

The Conservancy holds conservation easements on more than 12,200 acres in Venango County. For more information about conservation options, please contact the Conservancy at 412-288-2777 or [email protected].