Westmoreland Conservancy is an all volunteer, non-profit, 501c-3 Corporation dedicated to acquiring and preserving rural and rustic lands for the public good. The Conservancy acquires property through land gifts, private and state grants, and monetary donations (which are tax deductible). The Conservancy has particular interest in land which contains special features (scenic, historic, biological, or endangered and rare species). It also desires to preserve land which provides unique flora, fauna, streams, etc., or land which, because of its location, can help connect reserves and provide "green" corridors. The Conservancy has received several citations for community service and is nationally accredited by the Land Trust Accreditation Commission.
2009: Mayor's Community Service Award, Murrysville
2011: Mayoral Citation, 20 years Community Service, Murrysville
2013: Achieved National Accreditation
2016: Mayoral Citation, 25 years Community Service, Murrysville
2019: Renewed National Accreditation Status
Westmoreland Conservancy owns more than 600 acres of land distributed through 10 reserves in the Murrysville area. Hiking trails are provided on most of the Conservancy's nature reserves for the enjoyment of the public. Westmoreland Conservancy also participates in educational outreach activities.
History of Westmoreland Conservancy
Kellman Nature Reserve
Westmoreland Conservancy was founded in 1991 by a group of concerned citizens who wanted to save one of the last remaining large parcels of land in a densely populated area of Murrysville from development. This was the Kellman property. When a public hearing was called to consider changing the zoning from S-1 (special conservation) to R-2 (residential dwellings on half acre lots), it meant that fifty-seven acres was about to be converted into a sea of houses.
The realization that this precious open space was about to disappear catalyzed the surrounding neighbors into action. A committee called Save Open Space, or S.O.S., was formed to galvanize public support to preserve the Kellman farm as a nature reserve.
On June 5, 1991 the Westmoreland Conservancy was formed from that committee as a private foundation with provisional 501 (c)(3) status. An agreement was reached with the municipality to work together in obtaining the funding needed to purchase the Kellman farm. Over the course of the next two years, over $345,000 was raised from individuals, local businesses, foundations, and state grants. In addition, the municipality took on the responsibility and cost of maintaining a curtilage for Lillian to continue living on her farm for the remainder of her life. A newspaper account at the time referred to the brigade that launched the drive to Save Open Space as "housewives in slippers" which was not too far from the truth.
The Kellman Reserve is now a part of Murrysville’s Municipal Park system.
New Goals and Projects
Westmoreland Conservancy is dedicated to preserving rural and rustic open spaces for the benefit of community residents. The generosity of the community is making that goal a reality. When Marjorie King Saco offered to sell her land to WC in 1995 at a bargain price to be sure it would be forever protected as green space, the community stepped up to help raise matching funds for the DCNR grant secured for the purchase. The King Reserve has recently been expanded to about 120 acres, allowing more protection for Sylvan Run.
William Potter worked with Westmoreland Conservancy, selling a 3+ acre parcel adjacent to the King Reserve dedicated to the memory of his son, Larry. The property, known as Potter's Corner, serves to protect Sylvan Run as well, and is the site of an American Chestnut study area. This was planted in 2019 by the Potter family in memory of Jeff Potter.
Coincidentally, Patricia Walter approached Westmoreland Conservancy to donate her portion of her family farm, a 27-acre parcel featuring a high meadow with locally uncommon plants as well as a large stand of pawpaws. This set a new precident: that of land being DONATED for protection. Patricia spoke of picking wild berries on this property, once part of her grandfather's farm, and named it the J.H.Walter Reserve in his memory.
The heirs of a local artist, Barbara Holzshu Tomer, gave Westmoreland Conservancy an 18-acre parcel of land in remembrance of their mother in 1999. This parcel was part of a larger holding that originally had been targeted for subdivision.
Also in 1999, the original 20-acre parcel Flinn Reserve was donated in South Murrysville by Paul & Mary Ellen Flinn. The history of this property is spelled out on the reserve page, tracing ownership back to the William Penn Charter and explaining the historic significance of this area, known as Denmark Manor.
Gerry and Audrey McGinnis approached the Conservancy to preserve their 52-acre parcel in 2000. The property begins at Saltsburg and Wallace Roads, with a parking lot on Hunter Lane. It boasts a lovely meadow with a vernal pool as well as sloping woodlands and intermittent streams. The McGinnis Nature Reserve is home to our largest population of the late autumn-blooming Witch Hazel, and Black Cohosh shows off tall flower spikes along the trails in mid-summer.
The original 20-acre Flinn Reserve, 17-acre Tomer Reserve, 27-acre Walter Reserve, and 52-acre McGinnis Reserve were all donated prior to Westmoreland Conservancy’s 2001 ten-year anniversary. Each reserve exhibits its own unique personality, so we recommend exploring ALL of them!
A long-time member and supporter of Westmoreland Conservancy, Jane Caywood had been discussing the possibility of protecting her property, approximately 150 acres, on Hills Church Road. Sadly, she passed unexpectedly. But Jane had thought of us even prior to those talks and had already made WC heir to part of that land. This gift eventually became what is now the 43-acre Caywood Reserve in 2009. This property became the lynchpin that connected strips of green space spanning the municipality.
Don Harrison Community Trail (DHCT)
Members of the Conservancy envisioned a green corridor across Murrysville that aligned with both the King and Walter Reserves. Several parcels were identified along the corridor, and over the years the Conservancy acquired Potter’s Corner, and the Municipality purchased the Cline farm to become Murrysville Community Park. The gift of the Caywood Reserve provided the final link, connecting the King & Potter Reserves to Murrysville Community Park and the Walter Reserve. The trail was then expanded to the west through Sloan School property, Murrysville Municipal Complex and into Townsend Park. This goal of creating a green corridor took several years to accomplish. The 5-mile Don Harrison Community Trail was dedicated in 2010 to honor the vision of the president that initiated this cooperative project.
Westmoreland Conservancy was approached in 2012 about protecting the Morosini Farm. The property was very different from the sloped, densely wooded properties that had been acquired in the past. This area had been farmed since before the Civil War, so it is largely open, rolling fields divided by strips of woodlands. The donor, Aldene Morosini wanted to honor her late husband’s wishes to protect the property, and was very happy to know that it could be accomplished. She left the property as a beneficial gift. The 183-acre Morosini Reserve is home to the Universal Pedestrian Trail: a 2000’ long surfaced trail allowing those with mobility issues to enjoy a walk to the pond. There are benches along this trail to allow users to rest and take in the surroundings. It is also the site of several Boy Scout Eagle projects and high school community service projects.
The Flinn Reserve is our first preserved property in south Murrysville. The original 20-acre parcel was donated in 1999, and our parking area is located on Boxcartown Road. It was recently expanded by 84 acres by another very generous donation. The proximity to Lyons Run has presented the opportunity to partner with other entities to remediate and study the impact of acid mine drainage and the clean-up process. It has also presented an interesting opportunity to protect a larger part of the Lyons Run watershed area on a landscape scale.
Gifted in 2021 by Kathryn A. Kemble in honor of her father, James (Jim) Thompson, the Thompson Reserve is a 52-acre parcel that is part of the Lyons Run Watershed Greenway. The parcel holds special memories for Kathryn, as she would gather and husk black walnuts from the property for her grandmother’s
homemade fudge. Westmoreland Conservancy is proud to be the protector of such special places and precious memories. The property is not open to the public at this time, but plays an integral role in protecting Lyons Run.
Peaceful Stable Reserve
This nearly 4-acre reserve was originally part of a much larger farm owned by the McMullen family and is located right in the heart of Murrysville off of School Road North. Situated on a big, sloping hill, the field offers beautiful views and a natural 'green space' for neighbors on Windover and Cherry Drive. Barbara Molicki, understanding the beauty and historic importance of the property both for her and the neighbors, seized the opportunity to buy it herself. She purchased the property with the sole intention of donating it to Westmoreland Conservancy, thus forever ensuring that this beloved parcel of land is preserved and will remain a natural habitat for many animals.
Westmoreland Conservancy is proud to protect such special places for neighborhoods and communities. Our thanks to Barbara and her family for entrusting us with this lovely property in 2023.
To date, more than 80% of our lands have been donated for protection. That means that people WANT to save special places. Westmoreland Conservancy is here to make that happen.
Westmoreland Conservancy was awarded Accredited status by the Land Trust Accreditation Commission in 2013, was granted renewal of our accredited status in 2019, and applied for our second renewal in 2023.
Since our founding in 1991, Westmoreland Conservancy has been instrumental in the preservation of more than 650 acres of open space for the enjoyment of future generations.
All of our reserves are freely open to the public for the enjoyment of nature. No athletic playing facilities or motorized recreational vehicles are permitted. Trails are made for the enjoyment of visitors.