The Allegheny Land Trust has protected more than 1,500 acres of land in Allegheny and Washington counties, but it’s not cheap. That’s why it was awarded a $110,000 grant from the Richard King Mellon Foundation.
Chris Beichner, ALT executive director, said the money from the grant will go toward general operations.
“Part of the funding goes towards the resources for the volunteers and giving them the tools and resources they need to help us maintain a property, giving us marketing materials to go out and talk to land owners and local governments and others about land conservation and how they can be a partner with us,” Beichner said.
One piece of land the ALT is trying to obtain is the 180 acres of the former Pittsburgh Cut Flower property in Richland Township.
The property consists of meadows, ponds and woodlands along with abandoned buildings and greenhouses.
“Out of the 180 acres, 150 of it will be preserved as natural space," Beichner said. "So basically in its existing condition, it will remain. But we’ll have opportunities for people to fish, people to hike, people to ride mountain bikes, you know things like that, on the conservation land.”
He said ALT wants to recycle the other 30 acres back into the economy by possibly installing a solar farm, commercial land and active recreation.
The trust has raised $1.7 million of the nearly $3 million needed to buy and clean up the land.
ALT is also trying to obtain 48 acres of wooded property with streams and trails owned by the Catholic Institute in Sewickley Hills.
“Our vision is to complete this 1,200-acre greenway and Sewickley Heights and Hills boroughs and this piece of property will be critical to making that connection,” Beichner said. “So we hope to get some state funding to help acquire the property, and of course we’re doing a local fundraising campaign.”
If obtained, it would connect Sewickley Hills, Sewickley Heights Borough Park and ALT’s Audubon Greenway.
Beichner said although the Richard King Mellon Foundation’s grant is for general support, it will allow the staff to go out and raise other funds and identify other land saving projects.