Wingfield Pines Conservation Area
Wingfield Pines is located within the townships of Upper St. Clair and South Fayette in the southwestern corner of Allegheny County. It is situated within the floodplain of Chartiers Creek, which meanders along the western edge of the property. Allegheny Land Trust purchased the 80-acre property in December 2001. The acquisition was made possible in part by a DCNR grant. Other funders included the Henry Hillman Foundation, USC Citizens for Land Stewardship, Allegheny Land Trust, William and Francis Aloe Charitable Trust.
The land has seen more than of its share of human use and abuse. Strip-mined in the 1940’s and later turned into the Wingfield Pines Golf and Swim Club, Wingfield Pines is among several restoration and enhancement projects undertaken in the Chartiers Valley; the first in this particular location by the Allegheny Land Trust. It follows the trend of green corridors and ecological parks that are currently being developed in this watershed.
To create a master plan for the restoration of Wingfield Pines, Allegheny Land Trust engaged the help of three graduate students from the School of Natural Resources and Environment at the University of Michigan. Brian Chilcott, Joel Perkovich, and Mary Walton have completed a comprehensive design master plan and ecological rehabilitation plan as part of the requirements for Master of Landscape Architecture degrees. Their final report, Reinventing Wingfield Pines: Creating a Regional Showcase for Floodplain Rehabilitation in a Post-mined Landscape, documents the research process and final recommendations for the site. In addition, the report contains reviews of the cultural and regional context including history, site analysis, and a site feature inventory; planting plans, detail renderings, ecological rehabilitation and management goals and processes; a suggested framework for an educational program and public access improvements. The information is integrated into a “50-year vision of Wingfield Pines,” with a discussion about how this vision can be attained. (To view a video of the Master’s Project Symposium presentation in Windows Media format, please follow this link.) Now that this important first step is complete, work is underway to implement the recommendations. Improvements to the canoe landing are already in place thanks to the hard work of Brian, Joel and Mary.
Abandoned mine drainage (AMD) is a problem on the site. Allegheny Land Trust, working in conjunction with local environmental groups, designed and implemented a passive treatment system that mitigates 43 tons of iron oxides flowing into Chartiers Creek. Completed in 2009, the system operates by gravity and treats iron-laden mine discharge that is running at 1,500 to 2,000 gallons per minute across the property before it enters Chartiers Creek. The AMD treatment system occupies approximately 20 - 25 acres of the 80-acre site. In addition to recovering iron oxide from the water, the system accommodates trails, a wetland boardwalk, overlooks, and interpretative signage providing educational opportunities. Read more about it here.