September 19, 2008

Deal Ensures Protection of Land Near Ohiopyle

By Chris Foreman

The Western Pennsylvania Conservancy on Wednesday bought a 197- acre tract bordering Ohiopyle State Park for $760,000 in funding provided from the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

The property at 209 Ohiopyle Road in Stewart in Fayette County was owned by the Passavant Joint Declaration of Trust.

Upon closing, the conservancy conveyed the property to DCNR as a permanent addition to the popular park, which encompasses more than 19,000 acres.

Family members who owned the property, previously zoned as residential, moved to Florida, according to Greg Socha, the conservancy's associate vice president of land conservation and stewardship.

"We are very pleased to permanently protect this extraordinary property, which is adjacent to the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed residence, Kentuck Knob," Tom Saunders, the conservancy's president and CEO, said in a prepared statement. "From a conservation perspective, this action is important because it permanently protects this area connecting Ohiopyle and Kentuck Knob from development."

Julie Donovan, spokeswoman for the Laurel Highlands Visitors Bureau, said the area offers breathtaking, panoramic views of the Laurel Highlands.

"I think it's very exciting news," she said. "Of course, the natural resources in the Laurel Highlands are one of our biggest attractions."

The funding came through Keystone '93, a fund generated from a portion of the realty transfer tax.

In 76 years, the conservancy has protected nearly 225,000 acres of land in Pennsylvania.

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