More than 270 acres of Westmoreland County forest will be permanently protected under a legal agreement between two ecological nonprofit groups.
The Western Pennsylvania Conservancy has bought an easement with Randall Reserve, which owns the Donegal Township woodlands. That document requires any future owner of the site to refrain from developing more than three specific acres of the property, and even that small level of development must be scientific or nature-related.
The Conservancy's Laurel Highlands Director, Mike Kuzemchak, says the area remains open to the public for hiking, hunting, and fishing in Four Mile Run. He says the forest is adjacent to Donegal Lake, another public area, making up a total of about 500 acres of consecutive protected property.
The quality of the forest and the health of the stream were the Conservancy's two prime concerns, but Kuzemchak says he also likes that the property is down in a valley, unlike most of the public land of the Laurel Highlands.
Kuzemchak says his group was able to buy the easement with a $41,000 grant from the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.
(photo courtesy of the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy)