Conservation Areas & Easements
Hollow Oak Land Trust owns over 400 acres of woodlands and wetlands in the Moon, Kennedy, Robinson, North Fayette and Franklin Park communities. These conservation areas include 300 acres near the Hassam Road trailhead of the Montour Trail. Hollow Oak promotes a sustainable approach to economic development, providing a high quality of life for area residents and employees to enjoy access to a network of greenspaces.
We also manage conservation easements, including the 90-acre Sahli Nature Park in Chippewa Township, Beaver County.
Montour Woods Conservation Area
This 300-acre conservation area in Moon Township now includes three formerly individual conservation areas, which still have their own trailheads (see below). The main parking area/trailhead is located on Hassam Road, approximately 100 yards up the hill from the Montour Trail toward Moon. Over 10 miles of wooded trails are open to the public for hiking, biking and enjoyment of nature. As with all Hollow Oak Land Trust properties, motorized vehicles are prohibited. In addition to nearby Montour Trail (at mile 1.5), this conservation area is also less than a mile from Moon Township Community Park. Hollow Oak seeks to connect these amenities through the Montour Woods Greenway project.
Frank A. Santucci Trailhead - On December 23, 1993, Hollow Oak finalized its first purchase, the 113-acre parcel that later was named in honor of an active member who had died earlier that year. The property is a beautiful example of the diverse natural environment that still can be found in the Montour Valley. A spring surfaces high on the hillside, creating a wet, cool, rocky habitat for mosses and invertebrates and supplies drinking water for the mammals, birds, and reptiles inhabiting the site. Autumn brings the spectacular burst of color characteristic to hardwoods, while through the trees in the winter the expansive vista across the Montour Valley can be seen from the southeastern corner of the property. The property surrounds the former Nike missile site established during the cold war. The property can be accessed from the end of Nike Road off of Ewings Mill Road.
Montour Woods Trailhead - The parking area/trailhead is located on Hassam Road, approximately 100 yards up the hill from the Montour Trail toward Moon. The first parcel was purchased with the assistance of grants from The Pittsburgh Foundation and from the Pennsylvania Keystone Land Trust Grant Program in 2005. The old McCormick Farm property includes steep slopes, floodplain, and a stretch of Montour Run adjacent to the Forest Grove Sportsmen Association. It protects the mouth of Meeks Run as it flows into Montour Run. In 2009, another parcel was purchased with support from a grant from The Pittsburgh Foundation.
Meeks Run Trailhead - Hollow Oak successfully sought funding through the Pennsylvania Keystone Land Trust Grant Program for the 1997 acquisition of this parcel located adjacent to the Londonbury housing plan in Moon Township. This area, now dedicated as open space, originally was planned for 59 housing sites. The acquisition protects approximately a linear half-mile on both banks of Meeks Run, a tributary of Montour Run. Meeks Run carries some of the cleanest water entering Montour Run and flowing from there to the Ohio River.
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Trout Run Conservation Area
In 2017, an 88-acre tract of woodlands was donated to Hollow Oak by Mr. CJ Betters to establish the Trout Run Conservation Area. Originally purchased in 1954, the land was part of the Cherrington Manor residential development, but the steep terrain of the two stream valleys prevented further development.
The woodlands along Trout Run are stunningly beautiful, dominated by stands of eastern hemlock trees above cliffs lining the stream valley. A second stream forms another valley down to Montour Run Road, near the former West Area YMCA.
Trout Run is a tributary of Montour Run and one of only two "Non-Impaired" streams identified in the Montour Run watershed (the other stream is Meeks Run, located three miles away at the Montour Woods Conservation Area). A 2017 survey by Dr. Brady Porter and students from Duquesne University found 12 species of fish in Trout Run. Numerous macroinvertebrates also call the stream home, including crayfish, mayflies, stoneflies, caddisflies, craneflies, alderflies, dragonflies, damselflies, amphipods and isopods.
Trout Run Conservation Area is a capstone of the planned Montour Woods Greenway. The vision for this greenway includes a continuous 10-mile trail linking two conservation areas, with Moon Township Park and the Montour Trail. When complete, the greenway loop will extend up Trout Run parallel to Hookstown Grade Road to the public Moon Golf Club, crossing Beaver Grade Road to Moon Park, descending Meeks Run valley through Montour Woods Conservation Area, then following three miles of the Montour Trail.
Hookstown Trailhead - A small amount of parking is available near the trailhead off Hookstown Grade Rd about one-tenth of a mile from the intersection with Montour Run Rd. A larger parking area is at that same intersection, adjacent to the Montour Trail.
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Boggs Run Conservation Area
In August 1995, Hollow Oak accepted the donation of sixty acres of open space on the north side of the Beaver Valley Expressway. Located in both Moon and Hopewell Townships in Allegheny and Beaver Counties, this property was named the Boggs Run Conservation Area because one of its borders lies along that stream valley near the headwaters of Boggs Run. A beaver dam helps to maintain this wetlands habitat with its rich plant and animal life. Although this conservation area has been untouched by construction, the property is crossed both by electric power line towers and by a gas line. The land formerly was used for pastures and crops.
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Fifer's Fields Conservation Area
The 35-acre former farm property was in possession of the Fifer family since the early 1940's. This property in the Borough of Franklin Park is in an area rapidly developing with upscale housing. Instead of selling her farm for development, however, Penny Fifer decided that the 35-acre property should be retained as open space and available for recreational use by future generations of area residents. Hollow Oak agreed to accept the donation in 1998. Through an agreement with the Sewickley Hunt Club, the land is available for horseback riding and fox hunting (the dogs follow a scent that has been laid down). The Club mows the large open fields in the autumn, and the undisturbed field grasses during the spring and summer provide excellent cover and nesting habitat for migratory birds.
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Kenmawr Conservation Area
This heavily wooded valley in Kennedy Township was donated to Hollow Oak by a developer in 1998. The 60-acre parcel includes wooded slopes and a hilltop with an impressive view of the Ohio River. A small perennial stream flowing along the bottom of the valley is an unnamed tributary of Moon Run. Informal trails meander through the property.
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Forestbrooke Conservation Area
This 7-acre wetlands area in North Fayette Township at mile 6 of the Montour Trail was donated by a developer in 2006. The property is adjacent to Montour Run and is part of the green viewshed of the Montour Trail. This conservation area provides a flood-plain for the stream and a variety of habitat for fish, aquatic insects, birds, and other species.
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Sahli Nature Park
Hollow Oak Land Trust owns two conservation easements for 90-acre Sahli Nature Park in Chippewa Township, Beaver County. The natural beauty of the park invites visitors to explore trails through forests and meadows, to observe plants and look for wildlife, and to enjoy quiet quiet reflective moments by the streams and ponds. The park is noted for its majestic evergreens, colonies of lacy ferns and fields of colorful wildflowers. Several of the trails are named for Native American Tribes with others named for the flora and fauna you will see here.
This area in northern Beaver County served as hunting and camping grounds for a number of Native American tribes including the Monongahela in the 1600's and then the Delaware, Shawnee and Seneca Tribes in the 1700's. Arrowheads were found on this property as recently as the 1930's.
The Welsh family was the first to build a permanent home here. The site of their house can still be seen from McKinley Road. Look for a small stand of Norway Spruce, Myrtle groundcover and a patch of orange roadside lilies.
The Welsh family built a second, more substantial home in the early 1800's. This two story frame house, later owned by the Marshall family, was used by the Sahli's until the late 1950's. Pictures of the old farmhouse may be seen in the park's information center. Remnants of the stone fireplaces and chimney are on the east side of the large pond.
A.S. and Ada Sahli and their sons purchased the abandoned farm from the Marshall estate in 1927. The old farm property was enlarged and divided among family members several times before achieving its present boundaries. The third permanent home on park property. a a red brick house still in use, was built in the 1940's.
Property for the Nature Park was donated to Chippewa Township in 2010 by Jean Sahli Schall and Sue Sahli, daughters of I.S. and Gertrude Sahli, for whom the park is named.
Our vision is to create a sustainable park for future generations and to establish and maintain in perpetuity a nature preserve which will: preserve, conserve and protect our natural resources; provide a resource for environmental education; and, promote nature appreciation and enjoyment.
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