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Parks Conservancy receives grant for Hays Woods Park

Nonprofit to work with Allegheny Goatscape goats to remove invasive species

 

Last updated 1/10/2023 at 3:50pm



The Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy has been awarded a $233,000 grant from the Richard King Mellon Foundation to lay the groundwork for improving the Hays Woods Park ecosystem. The funds will support the Conservancy to act on critical issues identified as “guiding principles” in the 2019 report issued by the Hays Woods Task Force and carry out the community’s vision for the space, which officially became a park in December 2021.

The Conservancy will work to improve the stability of the ecosystem in the Pittsburgh’s newest and second-largest park. Over an 18-month period, the nonprofit will revisit key habitat sites within Hays Woods Park to assess their current condition and perform baseline maintenance work to ensure conditions are stable for future comprehensive management plans.

In partnership with Allegheny Goatscape, the Conservancy will manage invasive species removal with a herd of goats that will graze multiple acres of the park throughout 2023 and 2024. They will also partner with Allegheny Cleanways on litter clean-ups and disperse native seed material to replenish the seed bank, introducing beneficial plants to the park.

“We are so excited and thankful for the Richard King Mellon Foundation’s support that will enable us to begin work in Hays Woods in 2023,” explained Robin Eng, Ecological Project manager, Pittsburgh Conservancy. “The park has incredible potential to become an ecological gem within the City of Pittsburgh, but like many of our urban forest remnants, it faces severe threats from invasive species, dumping, and climate change. With the help of Allegheny GoatScape and Allegheny Cleanways, we are eager to begin forest stewardship work that will preserve forest canopy and enhance habitat for the many plants and animals that call Hays Woods their home.”

The acquisition of Hays Woods Park marks the city’s largest parkland acquisition since Frick Park’s creation in 1927. Prior to the acquisition, the greenspace had received no restoration or management efforts and is in dire need of an ecological management plan to create a healthy natural space usable to the public.

“Congratulations to the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy on being awarded this vital funding,” said Mayor Ed Gainey. “This funding is an investment into preserving the largest natural space in our city and by tackling the issues with invasive species it will not only improve the ecological health of Hays Woods it will allow it to thrive well into the future.”

Hays Woods Park is a unique urban forest, flanking the Monongahela River between South Side, Hays and Baldwin Borough. The massive acreage consists of forests, wetlands, open streams, meadows, waterfalls and steep wooden slopes and provides valuable nesting habitats for species like the well-known Hays Woods Bald Eagles.

"From recreation to air quality, wildlife, and pure scenic beauty, our parks are some of Pittsburgh’s most valuable assets, said Pittsburgh City Councilmember Barb Warwick, District 5. “With its 626 acres of rugged forest, wetlands, streams, and meadows, Hays Woods is already a destination for avid nature enthusiasts. Through this generous grant from the Richard King Mellon Foundation and the hard work and dedication of the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy, we’re on the path to giving this hidden gem some long overdue TLC – rehabilitating the ecosystem and engaging the community in determining the future of this exceptional public greenspace."

In addition to the ecosystem groundwork, the Conservancy will continue engaging groups including the Friends of Hays Woods and the Hays Woods Task Force and host volunteer opportunities with community members to ensure continued alignment with their priorities for the park, which will serve as a greenspace for roughly 30,000 neighboring residents.

Kate St. John of Friends of Hays Woods – a community group that advocates for the park said, "Hays Woods holds great promise as the City of Pittsburgh's wildest, least developed park even though it contains large patches of invasive species, especially Japanese knotweed. I look forward to the ecological improvements and future native species made possible by this grant."

To learn more about the Conservancy’s work in Hays Woods Park visit www. pittsburghparks.org.

 

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