News for Immediate Release

August 30, 2011

DCNR, Western Pennsylvania Conservancy Celebrate Protection of Streamside Land in Somerset County
Property Will be Added to Laurel Hill State Park

Jefferson Township, Somerset County – Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Richard J. Allan today announced that 137 acres in Jefferson Township, Somerset County, including about 2,000 feet of land along Laurel Hill Creek, is being transferred from the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy and will be added to Laurel Hill State Park.

“By conserving this land, we are protecting much more than habitat and open space,” Allan said today at a ceremony on the property. “With 2,000 feet of frontage on Laurel Hill Creek, this property has significant recreational value and will be open to fishing and hiking with its addition to the Laurel Hill State Park.

“This acquisition also helps to protect the water quality of Laurel Hill Creek and the scenic views of Laurel Ridge, all priorities of the Laurel Highlands Conservation Landscape effort,” Allan said.

DCNR invested $250,000 through its Community Conservation Partnerships Program to acquire the land - known as the Countryman property - through the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy. The funds were matched with $465,000 in private donations from the family of B. Kenneth Simon and the Colcom Foundation.

“This is a special property to us,” said Tom Saunders, president of the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy. “It took two years to do the transaction, starting with the day that one of our staff members went to the original auction for the property. Then the conservancy worked with a family, a local Pittsburgh foundation and DCNR, who all put in funding. All it took was our land conservation staff walking the trail along Laurel Hill Creek, and hiking up the ridge to see the view back toward the existing state park, and we knew this was a property to be protected.

“DCNR has an exceptional asset in Laurel Hill State Park – it’s a beautiful, fun destination, and much-used for all types of recreation,” Saunders added. “This adds a new hillside, woods and a long stretch of this endangered creek to the park.”

The vision of the Laurel Highlands Conservation Landscape Initiative is to protect the unique character of the Laurel Highlands and recognize its communities as world-class heritage/recreation destinations as well as wonderful places to work and live.

Located an hour east of Pittsburgh, the Laurel Highlands is defined by three Allegheny Plateau ridges (the Chestnut, Laurel and Allegheny) and portions of several watersheds. The rolling hillsides, rushing streams with waterfalls and picturesque farmlands span at least part of four counties (Somerset, Westmoreland, Fayette and Cambria).

With this recent addition, Laurel Hill State Park now encompasses more than 4,100 acres of mountainous terrain in Somerset County. The 63-acre Laurel Hill Lake is a focal point of the park, and a trail system invites visitors to hike and explore the park and observe the diversity of plants and wildlife.

For more information on Pennsylvania’s Gold Medal State Park system, visit

Media contact: Christina Novak, 717-772-9101