Safeguarding the Laurel Highlands and French Creek:
Western Pennsylvania Conservancy
The Western Pennsylvania Conservancy (WPC) works to protect the region’s exceptional natural resources. Guided by scientists, WPC has, to date, conserved more than 252,000 acres of land, restored watersheds, and saved wildlife—all of which have ecological and recreational value.
For more than 50 years, the Foundation has supported WPC’s efforts to protect land and better manage ecosystems in the Laurel Highlands. A $650,000 Foundation grant will help WPC protect three specific parcels: Casey Laine, Sisters of St. Joseph, and Beals, which provide habitat for key species, expand land for outdoor recreation, and, in the case of the Beals property, includes one of the most prolific spring systems in the Laurel Highlands. This grant also will help WPC protect Indian Caverns, a natural limestone cave in the Spruce Creek valley. In addition to restoring bat habitat, preserving the property will provide frontage along Pennsylvania’s Spruce Creek, allowing public access for fishing on one of Pennsylvania’s premier trout streams.
A second Foundation grant, for $725,000, will provide three-year support of the French Creek Collaborative, a multi-organization effort to nurture long-term protection of this important waterway that was named by George Washington in 1753 and today is internationally recognized for its extraordinary native biodiversity that includes many species extirpated from other river systems. The grant will provide a land protection fund, enabling WPC to respond quickly to opportunities in the watershed and empower the French Creek Valley Conservancy to spearhead public education initiatives that raise awareness about the watershed, including an updated website, expanded ecotourism programming, and increased public presentations.