Girty’s Woods conservation project aiming to protect the expansive woodlands within Reserve Township, adjacent to Shaler and Millvale hit two key milestones last week when the PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) awarded a $300,000 grant to Allegheny Land Trust (ALT) for the acquisition of the land and the community raised the full $40,000 for the local funding campaign.
“We are appreciative and elated to have such strong community and state-level support for Girty’s Woods. This gives the project great momentum,” ALT President & CEO Chris Beichner said. “We truly appreciate DCNR’s support of this important community land conservation project, and also appreciate the support of the elected officials and community leaders that helped to make it happen.”
The recent DCNR grant pushes the current total raised from residents, Millvale Borough, local businesses, private foundations, and the Redevelopment Authority of Allegheny County (RAAC) to more than $609,937. ALT has the property under contract to purchase and permanently protect contingent upon its ability to raise the $723,656 necessary by March 2021. Additional grant requests are pending, and discussions are on-going with potential corporate sponsors and other funders to close the $113,719 gap by the early 2021 deadline.
“These public investments in conservation and greenspace in our communities are a welcome move to protect the health of not just our neighbors, but of future generations as well,” Representative Innamorato said. “This year, Pennsylvanians flocked to outdoor areas in record numbers, underlining the importance of these natural spaces in our lives. I have and will continue to support projects like these to ensure that all Pennsylvanians have access to, and can enjoy, the outdoors.”
Girty’s Woods’ land and existing trails are already being enjoyed informally by neighbors of the green space for walking, mountain biking, bird watching, and other outdoor pursuits, and the current pandemic has only underscored the need for its protection.
“For so many, the outdoors have been a place of refuge, peace, and calm during this pandemic,” said Senator Williams. “But we know that the physical and mental benefits that come from access to outdoor recreation are unmatched no matter what is going on in the rest of the world. I’m especially proud to have advocated for funding to these local projects that will ensure that our residents have access to a variety of free, accessible public spaces.”
Directly adjacent to a Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection-designated “Environmental Justice Area,” Girty’s Woods would provide permanent equitable access to the restorative benefits of nature to the 100,000 people who live within a 3-mile radius and to all residents of Southwestern Pennsylvania. Those interested in supporting the conservation project can choose “Girty’s Woods Conservation Project” on ALT’s online donation form here: alleghenylandtrust.org/donate.