Westmoreland Land Trust
In 2004 Westmoreland County held a series of public meetings throughout the county to obtain citizen input for development of a Comprehensive Plan. Citizens throughout Westmoreland County stated that their top priority was to retain the predominantly rural character of the county, and the Westmoreland County Commissioners responded by forming the Westmoreland Land Trust (WLT) by resolution on December 6, 2007.
The WLT was approved for incorporation by the PA Department of State Corporation Bureau on January 7, 2008. The WLT secured confirmation of Internal Revenue Code 501(c)3 designation in January 2009, and made its first property acquisitions in the fall of that year. These included land along the Great Allegheny Passage to expand Cedar Creek Park; land on Cabin Hill in Greensburg; land that became the Otto and Magdalene Ackermann Nature Preserve in North Huntingdon Township; and land that became the Peter and Victoria Skena Nature Reserve in Murrysville.
The WLT has continued to conserve properties, often in partnership with another entity. Partners have included Westmoreland County Bureau of Parks and Recreation (WCPR), the Westmoreland Conservancy, the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, the Loyalhanna Watershed Association, Westmoreland County, and the Municipality of Murrysville. In October 2015 WLT completed an ambitious multi-year project to enlarge Murrysville’s Duff Park and connect it to Pleasant Valley Park. This secured conservation of four properties comprising 96.5 acres, and transfer of their ownership to the Municipality of Murrysville. In 2016 WLT partnered with WCPR to conserve land adjacent to the Cedar Creek Gorge, to expand Cedar Creek Park and buffer the Gorge. In 2017 the WLT acquired land to add to the county’s Mammoth Park. In 2018 the WLT again partnered with WCPR to acquire land to expand the county’s Twin Lakes Park. In March 2021 the WLT acquired an extremely scenic farm of 96 acres in Hempfield Township, just north of Greensburg.
In 2018 the Land Trust also completed a rigorous Geographic Information System (GIS) based analysis of land across Westmoreland County. The analysis considered several data bases and mapped characteristics, to prioritize areas for focused outreach about land conservation.
To date the WLT has conserved all land by fee simple donation or purchase, with ownership turned over to the local municipality, Westmoreland County, or a watershed organization. The WLT manages two properties (the Otto and Magdalene Ackermann Preserve in North Huntingdon Township and the Cabin Hill property in Greensburg) under agreement with Westmoreland County.
The WLT is an independent (non-county), nonprofit organization that was formed as an all-volunteer organization. The WLT continued as an all-volunteer organization until January 2017, when WLT hired an Executive Director on a part-time basis.