Penn State and ClearWater Conservancy are working to conserve about 365 acres of university land between Whitehall Road and Rothrock State Park. Residents at a community meeting Thursday learned about the project and gave feedback about what they would like to see.
Bill Corey, a Ferguson Township resident, was one of the people crowded around the tables and easles with information and maps about the property. While Corey was unhappy with Penn State’s sale of nearby land to a developer, he was glad to see the detailed information presented on the land in line to be conserved.
“This can be a real oasis in the center of State College. Because I’m not going to be here 200 years from now, but a lot of people will and it’s going to really grow,” he said.
The meeting was a chance for people to learn about the property and give their opinions about what they’d like to see. The university has said it’s looking at passive uses that will protect the land and water supply.
As part of a class, Penn State students studied the land in the fall. On Thursday, they shared that information at stations focused on topics including recreation, forestry and water protection. The students are now focused on collecting community feedback.
Penn State President Eric Barron said getting community feedback is key.
“I’ve just about clocked my 25th year here in State College, and I love those hikes," Barron said. "I love the environmental potential that surrounds us in terms of just enjoying it and using it softly, so we’d like to see what we can do.”
Deb Nardone, executive director of the conservation organization ClearWater Conservancy, said the land sits on top of well fields where a majority of State College drinking water comes from, so what happens on this land is important.
“This is a place we hope the public will be able to use for a long time," Nardone said. "This is also a really important piece of property that serves important ecological reasons.”
Several other community sessions are scheduled. In April, students will present their findings.