Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn Monday joined other state and local officials and conservation representatives in celebrating acquisition of the Brown’s Farm tract in Millcreek Township, Erie County.
Acquired in January, the Brown’s Farm parcel totals more than 62 acres and complements the Asbury Woods Nature Center and Greenway Complex. The property is preserved to ensure public use for recreation while continuing to provide environmental education to students in the region.
“DCNR is proud to be a key partner in this invaluable acquisition that saw so much accomplished by so many in the name of environmental protection and education,” Dunn said. “From the trout angler casting along Walnut Creek to the youngster tracing butterflies in the nature center, the experience of all who come here has been vastly enriched.”
The secretary saluted key partners in the acquisition, including Asbury Woods Partnership, Erie County, Millcreek Township, Millcreek School District and the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy.
“All have worked very hard to ensure passive outdoor recreation, environmental protection and access to Walnut Creek are guaranteed for generations to come,” Dunn said.
During the 1800s and 1900s the areas known today as Brown’s Farm was once a productive family farm. Now the barn and nearby property are used for education programs, with a focus on watersheds, agriculture, history and sound land use.
The barn and grounds are part of the Asbury Woods Nature Center, a state-of-the-art regional nature center with over 205 acres and 4.5 miles of hiking trails.
“We are so excited that DCNR is helping to fund this project,” said Larry Berrin
President and CEO of the Asbury Woods Partnership. “Brown's Farm is not only a recreational gem but also an important outdoor laboratory to deliver our eSTEM curriculum since this is the site for our middle school watershed science program. Not only that, but by preserving this green space we are protecting this section of Walnut Creek which had been recognized by the state department of Environmental Protection as an impaired stream.”
Key funding also came from the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy’s Colcom Revolving Fund for Local Land Trusts, providing short-term access to funds for critical land conservation.
When new conservation opportunities emerge, land trusts often are challenged to raise sufficient funds to acquire key properties before time runs out and the seller moves on to another interested buyer.
“This project is a great example of how our Colcom Revolving Fund for Local Land Trusts can support organizations’ efforts to protect land and important community assets that have great educational and recreational value,” said Mike Kuzemchak, Western Pennsylvania Conservancy’s director of operations for land protection. “This fund is designed to help organizations acquire property before permanent funding is secured. Thanks to Colcom Foundation, we’re pleased to administer funds whenever possible to support land conservation projects in the region.”
Asbury Woods Partnership Inc. acquired the Asbury Woods Nature Center and Greenway Complex (205 acres) from Millcreek Township School District in June 2016. Total cost of the project was $1.5 million.DCNR’s grant toward this project was one of 32 awarded statewide for land conservation. Total funds awarded by DCNR for land conservation in the past year approach $8.5 million.
Maintaining Rec, Education Opportunities At Browns Farm, Asbury Woods