Centre supports $615,000 Hess Farm conservation project



BELLEFONTE –The Centre County Commissioners are on board with ClearWater Conservancy’s conservation easement acquisition of the Hess Farm in State College.

During their Tuesday meeting, the commissioners approved writing a letter of support to the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development for a request of $250,000, the maximum available amount, in funding from the Greenways, Trails and Recreation grant program. Local conservation group ClearWater Conservancy will be submitting the grant application to purchase easements, or legal rights to use the land for a specific limited purpose, said Bob Jacobs, director of planning and community development.

The Hess Farm is located along Shingletown Road just west of Shingletown Gap on Roaring Run, which is a tributary to Slab Cabin Run.

“That’s going to greaten the sweet spot of State College Borough Water Authority’s recharge area,” Jacobs said. “This 116-acre farm is slated to be preserved, and these grant dollars are going toward preserving that farm.”

The grant requires a 15 percent match of $37,500, which ClearWater Conservancy has committed from private donations. The grant program has an application deadline of May 31.

The total cost of the project is $615,000, $585,000 of which is the appraised conservation easement value of the Hess Farm, according to Kevin Abbey, land conservation manager for ClearWater Conservancy. The remainder of the total project cost will include related costs, such as property survey and environmental assessment.

The Hess Farm was on a long list of places for the county to purchase. However, it was so far down on the list that it would have taken a number of years for it to have been purchased, Jacobs said, so ClearWater Conservancy felt it was an important project to take on.

Last year, ClearWater Conservancy raised $2.8 million to acquire conservation easements from the 156.9-acre Everhart Farm and the 143.5-acre Meyer Dairy property, Abbey said. This was known as the Slab Cabin Run Initiative and was done in the interest of source water protection, restoration of Slab Cabin Run and for the preservation of the farmland that produces dairy products for the Meyer Dairy Store.