Sewickley’s ALT land acquisition at Montour Trail to enhance outdoor recreation

Monday, November 4, 2019 | 6:01 AM

Sewickley-based Allegheny Land Trust (ALT) finalized the purchase of 38.5 acres of Moon Township green space near mile marker 1 of the Montour Trail last month. Hundreds of thousands of people use the trail for outdoor recreation each year.

Hollow Oak Land Trust and Montour Trail Council used their donor networks to help raise the more than $180,000 needed to acquire the trailside land as part of ALT’s Montour Greenway Expansion project. An entity called Haudenshield Realty was the previous owner.

ALT prioritizes the protection of green spaces that are under threat of development and hold importance for biodiversity and water quality, according to Lindsay Dill, the organization’s communications director.

“We wanted to make sure that for years to come, people who are hiking, biking and dog-walking can enjoy the trailside,” Dill said.

The 38.5 acres of protected green space has significant implications for water quality and flood prevention in Montour Run. Preserving the land in its natural state will ensure that the soil continues to absorb rainwater. The green space also contains a Montour Run tributary.

“By protecting this land, we’re protecting the water quality in that tributary, which then feeds into Montour Run (by) ensuring that rain is being filtered through soil and not impermeable surface,” Dill said.

Hollow Oak Land Trust has already started working on a separate plan to protect green space in Coraopolis Borough and connect it with surrounding areas.

Borough officials and area residents have supported the effort, according to Sean Brady, executive director of Hollow Oak Land Trust. Brady said he envisions contiguous green space running through the McCabe Run stream valley and connecting Our Lady of Sacred Heart (OLSH) High School with Cornell High School.

Establishing a trail system is an ongoing community effort. Volunteers have helped develop nature trails behind Cornell High School, Brady said, and Hollow Oak hosted an event the morning of Oct. 26 that allowed community members to further enhance the Coraopolis trail system.

ALT’s recent acquisition offers the opportunity for an even more extensive network of green space. The 38.5 acres of protected land alongside the Montour Trail extends up a hillside toward OLSH and could provide trail access for students and other outdoor enthusiasts.

“Our mission is to protect and connect green space, and that tract of land along the Montour Trail really lays the groundwork for a connection from the Montour Trail up to one, and possibly two local high schools,” Brady said.

Residents throughout Allegheny County provided financial support for the trailside land protection effort. ALT also received grant support from the Garden Club of Allegheny County and the Katherine Mabis McKenna Foundation, according to Dill.

“We’re definitely very grateful for the people who donated for this project,” Dill said. “That’s how projects like this happen.”