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ClearWater Conservancy Comes Down the Home Stretch in Effort to Protect Local Water Supply by Permanently Conserving 300 Acres of Farmland

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ClearWater Conservancy Comes Down the Home Stretch in Effort to Protect Local Water Supply by Permanently Conserving 300 Acres of Farmland

STATE COLLEGE, PA-ClearWater Conservancy, a nationally accredited land trust serving Centre and surrounding counties, has raised $2.4 million towards a $2.75 million goal for the Slab Cabin Run Initiative, an effort to permanently conserve 300 acres of agricultural land owned by the Meyer and Everhart Families of State College. Located next to densely populated neighborhoods—across the street from the State College Friends School and Foxdale Village along University Drive—the property lies in a vital portion of the Spring Creek Watershed, within the Source Water Protection Area for the Harter-Thomas wells which supply the majority of the drinking water to Centre Region residents.

In the time since the project was publicly announced on October 28, 2016, community support from a variety of groups and individuals, along with support from municipalities in the region that depend on the wells as a water source, has helped ClearWater Conservancy raise 88% of the funds needed to fully fund a land conservation easement on the property. “We’re getting very close to crossing the finish line. With continued community support, we’ll raise the remaining $322,000 needed by September 30 in order to make this important project happen,” says Andrea Murrell, ClearWater Conservancy’s Communications Coordinator.

Community support for the initiative has been diverse and inventive. “From community yard sales to school fundraisers led by students in kindergarten and first grade, we are encouraged and moved by the community’s willingness to commit their time and energy to ensure this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity does not pass us by,” says Deb Nardone, ClearWater Conservancy’s executive director. In June, a community-wide yard sale fundraiser raised $2,500 for the Initiative in a single day.

Support for the Initiative has also come from the Hamer Foundation. ClearWater Conservancy contributed $750,000 from from the Foundation toward the project.

So far, support from individuals in the community has added up to over $400,000 towards the conservation project. The first major donor put the effort on track by offering a $50,000 challenge grant during ClearWater Conservancy’s Annual Meeting on October 28; his pledge was matched fully by those in attendance that evening. Another $50,000 was raised during Centre Foundation’s Centre Gives online giving event on May 9-10. Private individuals, many who will remain anonymous, have been giving throughout the year.

After public meetings that began last fall, the State College Borough Water Authority, Ferguson Township, College Township, State College Borough, Harris Township, and Patton Township voted to contribute a combined $1,240,000 to fund the project.

Notably, the project has struck a chord with young ice cream lovers. Lisa Gamble, associate head of the State College Friends School says, “Helping ClearWater raise money for their initiative was a perfect opportunity for our students to practice two of our school’s tenets — community and stewardship — while also learning more about the importance of agricultural land in protecting groundwater.” The school held two fundraisers, including a ‘cow can’ campaign led by the Kindergaten-1st grade class that raised $350. The students and teachers also contributed the adopted term ‘forever farm’ to describe one of the Initiative’s ultimate goals.

Many artists and area businesses have also contributed their time and talent toward permanently conserving the Meyer and Everhart farms in State College. To emphasize the link between clean water and a healthy community, Otto’s Pub & Brewery donates proceeds of their Slab Cabin IPA sales, and also raises awareness of the project via table tents and beer tags. In February, local artist Jennifer Shuey donated her original painting of Slab Cabin Run  created for the labels on University Wine Company’s Slab Cabin Red and Slab Cabin White, for an auction at ClearWater’s Art & Chocolate Winter Gala. Proceeds from wine sales also go toward the Slab Cabin Run Initiative.
Shuey, J - Where the Slab Cabin Runs

Jennifer Shuey, ClearWater volunteer, dedicated conservationist, and pastel artist explains, “I am immensely proud of the work that ClearWater Conservancy is doing to protect the Meyer and Everhart Farms in the Slab Cabin Run watershed.  It is so much more effective to proactively engage the community in conservation of important lands and resources before development plans are offered as an alternative.  This is not only a great project, but an inspired example of a way that the community as a whole can assess, prioritize, and plan for conservation of the region’s most critical resources.  Let’s get this one done and figure out as a community where we can make the biggest impact next!” Seen to the left is an image of her recent painting, Where the Slab Cabin Runs.

Presently, artists Sarah Pollock and Alice Kelsey are creating original paintings of local landscapes, exploring the Centre region’s unique balance of natural areas, farms, forests and picturesque communities. Proceeds from their upcoming show in November will be donated to ClearWater’s efforts.

The public can keep track the fundraising progress by driving along University Drive and looking for the giant milk jug on the Meyer property. The jug, intended to resemble a glass milk bottle from Meyer Dairy, was hand-built by local woodworker Jay Aubuchon and hand-painted by artist Jon Vickers-Jones.  Jay regularly fills the jug with “milk,”, a.k.a. white paint, as ClearWater approaches its goal.

“We think this project hits home for people in so many ways,” says Kevin Abbey, land conservation manager at ClearWater Conservancy. “Whether it’s protecting our drinking water, local streams, or the incredible view the property offers, our friends and neighbors clearly understand the magnitude of this effort. It’s tough to imagine ever having another opportunity to make such a positive impact on our community at such a reasonable cost. We’re thankful to the Meyer and Everhart families for their generosity and desire to permanently conserve their land.”

Once all funds are secured by September 30, the legal agreement can be executed and the Meyer and Everhart properties will be permanently conserved. Under a conservation easement, only agricultural use of the land will be permitted.  While the Meyer Family will own the land, ClearWater Conservancy will hold the perpetual conservation easement, a legally binding encumbrance on the property deed, ensuring protection of the farmland and stream corridor forever, no matter who owns the land.

For more information about the Slab Cabin Run Initiative and for information regarding donations, visit www. slabcabinrun.org or contact ClearWater Conservancy directly at contactus@clearwaterconservancy.org or call 814-237-0400.

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The mission of ClearWater Conservancy is to conserve and restore the natural resources through land conservation, water resource stewardship and environmental outreach across central Pennsylvania