Based in State College, ClearWater Conservancy is the foremost land trust and natural resource conservation organization in central Pennsylvania. Since 1980, ClearWater has worked to improve central Pennsylvania for all through land conservation, water resource protection, and environmental outreach to the community.

Conservancy names Deb Nardone Executive Director

Deb NardoneDeborah Nardone of Halfmoon Township, a longtime champion of natural places and clean water, has been named Executive Director of ClearWater Conservancy in State College.

A conservationist with a quarter century of experience working in many arenas, from the mountains and valleys of central Pennsylvania to Capitol Hill, Deb looks forward to being ClearWater’s fourth Executive Director. Her first day will be September 8.

“I am excited to join the expert staff and dedicated board at ClearWater Conservancy. Having worked on watershed conservation issues at the local, state, and national level, it's quite a privilege to bring my expertise in nonprofit leadership home to my own community and backyard,” she said. “I look forward to once again working directly with partners in central Pennsylvania to conserve the land and water resources where we live, work and play. ClearWater is known for being a strong community collaborator and an important technical resource – helping to shape and sustain a vibrant community and healthy ecosystem. I plan to build on that reputation as we grow this organization and its impact on this great community.”

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Press & News

12/29/2015
Twenty-nine acres on Tussey Mountain added to Rothrock State Forest

State College, PA – When Tom Hoy retired from a career with the FBI and returned to his hometown of State College in 2006, he had plans to build a retirement retreat on a little piece of land on Tussey Mountain handed down to him by his parents.

The 29-acre slice of forest perched above Shingletown Road between Pine Grove Mills and Musser Gap had been in Hoy’s family since 1916. Hoy’s mother grew up on a farm at what is now the intersection of Whitehall Road and Route 26.

“The mountain land was a summering spot for heifers from the farm. They would drive them up there and that’s where the young ones would spend the summer,” he said.

Hoy’s plans unraveled as he began making inquiries about building on the land.

“I quickly realized how difficult it would be to access the property with a road. From the nearest public road, I would have needed right-of-ways from 14 different property owners to get to the land. Even if I had managed to build a road in, there were no utilities,” he said.

Faced with the realization that his mountain hideaway would never be built, he took a suggestion from a friend and called ClearWater Conservancy to explore conservation options.

Hoy met with Conservation Biologist Katie Ombalski, who suggested trying to sell the land to DCNR for inclusion in Rothrock State Forest. That suggestion, made in November, 2014, came to fruition December 18, 2015 when the DCNR Bureau of Forestry purchased the land from Hoy for $60,000.

 “This way, a bit of my family legacy is preserved and the land is available to be used by everyone. I feel really good that if I can’t use it the way I had hoped, it is going to be part of the forest and the state will be looking after it,” said Hoy.  “Others told me they would be interested in buying it, but I really thought it should be conserved.”

Mark Potter, district forester of the Rothrock State Forest, said he was happy to see a bit more land become public.

“This acquisition adds conserved acreage to Rothrock State Forest. A major emphasis of our work with ClearWater has been to conserve that face of Tussey Mountain looking down on State College and this fits right in with that effort,” he said.

With the addition of Hoy’s land, Rothrock State Forest is now 96,279 acres. ClearWater has purchased and transferred 928 acres of land on Tussey Mountain  to Rothrock State Forest since 2007.

“It might seem like a small addition to the forest, 29 acres, but every bit helps add to the total of permanently conserved land,” said ClearWater’s Ombalski. “There are many of these small, inaccessible forested blocks of land on the mountainsides which are undevelopable for one reason or another. Others may want to consider what Tom did and transfer ownership to the state forest if it is possible.”

ClearWater Conservancy facilitated the sale by connecting Hoy with DCNR, helping negotiate terms and providing initial mapping of the land. Nittany Settlement Services of State College provided notary services and a meeting space for the settlement.

“We’re glad to pitch in with services and use of the office. It’s how we help support land conservation in central Pennsylvania,” said Scott Huber of Nittany Settlement.

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09/10/2015
ClearWater joins DCNR in celebration of 570-acre addition to Bald Eagle State Forest

(CENTRE HALL, Pa.) ClearWater Conservancy staff and volunteers joined Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn and Bureau of Forestry officials September 9 in applauding acquisition of a 570-acre tract that expands Bald Eagle State Forest to more than 197,000 acres. 

“This invaluable addition to the state forest system comes at a time when more and more people are being drawn to these woodlands by a variety of interests and activities,” Dunn said, speaking on the Centre County site popularly known as the Decker Tract.

DCNR’s Bureau of Forestry worked with ClearWater Conservancy to place a sales option on the property and then transfer the option to DCNR when acquisition funding was available. Finalized May 14, the $1.71 million sale, including a variety of buildings, was financed through the bureau’s Oil and Gas Fund.

Located just outside the borough of Centre Hall at 2823 Lower Brush Valley Road (Route 192), the new state forestland is key to watershed protection and increased recreational access, the secretary said. 

“ClearWater is excited to be actively involved in the conservation of the Decker property because it provides public access to the Bald Eagle State Forest directly from State Route 192 for the first time.  The Decker family can turn over ownership and management of the land to the state forest team with confidence and trust, knowing they can still come back to enjoy the land, and that the family tradition of open hunting access will continue,” said Land Conservation Manager Kevin Abbey, ClearWater’s lead staff member on the project.

Future plans for this tract call for a trailhead parking lot, and an extension of the Ray Decker Trail with the state forest’s Greens Valley Tract and the James Cleveland Memorial Trail. DCNR officials said plans for the property also include a native plant nursery operation in the fertile farmland portion of the acreage along Route 45. Trees and shrubs from the nursery will benefit habitat and forest restoration efforts across the Commonwealth, furthering the Decker family legacy in the process.

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08/26/2015
Deb Nardone named Executive Director

(STATE COLLEGE, Pa.) Deborah Nardone of Halfmoon Township, a longtime champion of natural places and clean water, has been named Executive Director of ClearWater Conservancy in State College.

A conservationist with a quarter century of experience working in many arenas, from the mountains and valleys of central Pennsylvania to Capitol Hill, Nardone looks forward to being ClearWater’s fourth Executive Director. Her first day will be September 8.

“I am excited to join the expert staff and dedicated board at ClearWater Conservancy. Having worked on watershed conservation issues at the local, state, and national level, it's quite a privilege to bring my expertise in nonprofit leadership home to my own community and backyard,” she said. “I look forward to once again working directly with partners in central Pennsylvania to conserve the land and water resources where we live, work and play. ClearWater is known for being a strong community collaborator and an important technical resource – helping to shape and sustain a vibrant community and healthy ecosystem. I plan to build on that reputation as we grow this organization and its impact on this great community.”

Nardone comes to ClearWater with over 20 years of broad experience in the field of natural conservation.  She has worked for local, state and national organizations including the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, the Allegheny Ridge Heritage Area, Pennsylvania Council of Trout Unlimited, and the Sierra Club.

“The board of directors is excited to have Deb Nardone join the ClearWater team. Through her past experience planning and coordinating local conservation efforts and organizing an extensive national campaign, she has demonstrated that she possesses the vision and leadership skills that will advance ClearWater’s mission,” said Board President Steve Miller.

She was awarded the Conservation Professional of the Year Award by National Trout Unlimited in 2010 and was named one of the top 40 Pennsylvanians under the age of 40 working to protect the environment by the Pennsylvania Environmental Council.

Nardone earned bachelor’s degrees in Environmental Science and Political Science from Juniata College and a master’s degree in Environmental Pollution Control from Penn State University. 

She resides on a small, wooded lot with her husband, Jason Little, and their son, Jonah, 8.  Together, they enjoy hiking, camping, canoeing, fishing, hunting, gardening and cooking. 

 

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