|The 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, 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.
Westmoreland Conservancy has preserved 444 acres of land
distributed through 8 reserves in
the Murrysville area. Hiking trails are provided on most of the
Conservancy's nature reserves for the enjoyment of the public.
The Westmoreland Conservancy also participates in educational
outreach activities, the most recognized of which is a popular
exhibit at the annual Community Day.
The History of the Westmoreland Conservancy
Conservancy was founded by a group of conservationists who
wanted to save from development one of the last remaining large
parcels of land in the most densely populated areas of
Murrysville. This was the Kellman property, which had been
actively farmed until the mid-60's by Fred Kellman and his
Lillian Kellman continued to live on the family farm long after
her parents died. Much had changed during her lifetime.
Adjoining farms were sold off to developers, leaving Lillian's
farm as the last open space remaining in the most densely
developed part of Murrysville.
Continuing problems of finding enough money to pay her taxes
finally proved to be too much for her and the court assigned an
attorney to settle her affairs.
Neighbors realized that Lillian's problems were real 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). 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.0.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 as a private foundation with provisional 501 (c)(3)
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. The developer
who had hoped to purchase the Kellman farm if it were rezoned
graciously bowed out when it became evident that the
overwhelming majority wanted to see this open space preserved as
a nature reserve. 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.
All of our reserves are freely open to the public for the
enjoyment of nature. No structures, roads nor athletic playing
facilities are permitted. Trails are made for the enjoyment of
Since our founding in 1991, the Westmoreland Conservancy has
been instrumental in the preservation of 265 acres of open space
for the enjoyment of future generations. The Kellman Reserve is
now a part of the Municipal Park system. The remaining acres
are owned and maintained by the Conservancy. As an organization,
the Westmoreland Conservancy is dedicated to preserving rural
and rustic open spaces for the benefit of community residents.
The generosity of the community and the friends of Murrysville
is making that goal a reality.
Westmoreland Conservancy was awarded Accredited status by the Land Trust Accreditation Commission in 2013.