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Nonprofit preserves 528 acres of land in Southwest Twp

Photo provided to the Times Observer The Foundation for Sustainable Forests has announced the preservation of 528 acres in Southwest Township. Pictured is the organization’s founder and president Troy Firth.

The Foundation for Sustainable Forests has announced the preservation of 528 acres of forested land in Southwest Township.

The nonprofit land trust based in Spartansburg said the Dotyville Hill Forest “includes significant frontage along Caldwell Creek’s public-access fly-fishing corridor, and is a part of the Foundation’s Caldwell Creek Watershed Conservation Project, which began with 60 acres in 2012 and has grown to over 1200 acres today,” the organization said in a statement.

Their model balances the need to protect the land but not “stifle the local economy,” according to their website. “Rather than preserving land untouched, we are actively managing our timber resources to sustainably provide the forest products and ecosystem services that people depend on.

“By functioning within the local community we are better positioned to educate the public about sustainable, restorative forestry and broaden our impact across the landscape.”

“The 1,200 acres conserved so far is just a progress marker,” Executive Director Annie Maloney explained. “Our work continues!”

According to a statement, the FSF has “identified this region for protection to ensure watershed health, recreation opportunities and to preserve the local timber economy. These protected lands will remain on the tax rolls and will be managed to create diversity in forest structure and wildlife habitat.”

While they are working forests, they’re also open to the public for recreational activities. The organization highlights potential hiking, hunting and bird-watching opportunities.

“There are no formal, marked hiking trails,” Maloney explained. “However, these properties have been timbered in the past and there are skid trails, mainly from horse logging crews, that make nice walking routes.”

She said that a FSF created a parking area along Flat Road for fishing access along Caldwell Creek.

“There is additional parking along Dotyville Hill Rd. at Caldwell Creek, which provides an easy access point to fish within the newly conserved Dotyville Hill Forest,” Maloney added.

A statement explains that the acreage “comprised of four adjacent parcels, one purchased from private ownerships and three donated by FSF’s founder and president, Troy Firth, who “provided the in-kind matching donation needed to receive a $430,000 grant from the PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources’ Community Conservation Partnerships Program via the Keystone Fund.”

They highlight additional support from the John Nesbit Rees and Sarah Henne Rees Foundation of Titusville, Trout Unlimited chapters both for Northwest PA and Caldwell Creek as well as James and Vicki Stec of Pittsfield.

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