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More than 300 acres of Centre Region land to be permanently conserved

Jay Aubuchon sets up to fill in the rest of the billboard Tuesday along University Drive, to reflect that ClearWater Conservancy has reached its fundraising goal for its Slab Cabin Run Initiative. The more than 300 acres of agricultural land will now be permanently conserved.
Jay Aubuchon sets up to fill in the rest of the billboard Tuesday along University Drive, to reflect that ClearWater Conservancy has reached its fundraising goal for its Slab Cabin Run Initiative. The more than 300 acres of agricultural land will now be permanently conserved. psheehan@centredaily.com

ClearWater Conservancy has reached its fundraising goal of $2.75 million for its Slab Cab Run Initiative, the largest project in the organization’s 37-year history.

The initiative is a proactive source water protection strategy, as previously reported.

Once the i’s are dotted and t’s are crossed, a little more than 300 acres of agricultural land — the Meyer Dairy property and the Everhart Farm — will be conserved forever.

Both properties are just outside the State College growth boundary — in College and Harris townships — and in close proximity to the Harter-Thomas Wellfields, which supply the State College area with the majority of its drinking water

“I think it’s a marvel. I think we live in a unique community, a beautiful community,” said Carolyn Hatley, a ClearWater volunteer.

Andrea Murrell, ClearWater’s strategic communications coordinator, said she’s excited for and proud of the community for understanding the magnitude of the initiative.

ClearWater set out from the beginning for the initiative to be a 50-50 partnership with public and private funding, said Deb Nardone, ClearWater’s executive director. State College Borough Water Authority contributed $760,000; College, Ferguson, Harris and Patton townships and State College borough put up $480,000; a gift from the Hamer Foundation totaled $750,000; and more than 600 individual donors brought in the rest.

“We are thinking about source water protection as a community,” Nardone said. “We care very deeply about continuing to protect the place that we love. ... I think people understand the value of conserving the natural resources not only for us but for those next generations and that they stepped up in a huge way to help make this kind of a project happen.”

Settlement on the conservation easements is slated for next week.

When the agreement is finalized, the Meyer family will own all 300 acres and continue to use the land for farming, Nardone said. ClearWater will hold the development rights, meaning that no matter who owns the property in the future, it will remain in its agricultural state indefinitely.

“Not only is it about the community and decision-makers being excited, proactive, thoughtful and generous, the Meyer and the Everhart families chose conservation and I think the biggest kudos has to go to them for prioritizing the community needs perhaps over their own pocketbooks,” Nardone said.

The conservancy will work with the family to permanently conserve and restore the stream sections that run through the property, including installing riparian buffers to improve water quality, she said.

ClearWater wanted the Slab Cabin Run Initiative to be the “flagship” project and set the tone for the future of the organization, Hatley said.

The public is invited to the Slab Cabin Celebration and Annual Meeting, which will take place from 5:30-9 p.m. Oct. 7 at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Centre County, 780 Waupelani Drive, State College.

Sarah Rafacz: 814-231-4619, @SarahRafacz

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