MWA is proposing to purchase a 192.6 acre property in Fayette County which borders Indian Creek, a tributary of the Youghiogheny River, and Rasler Run, a tributary to Indian Creek. Indian Creek is designated as a high quality coldwater fishery, and Rasler Run is Class A Wild Trout Stream. 12.8% of the property has been designated as a Natural Heritage Area by the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy for its exceptional ecological diversity.
The acquisition project is needed to conserve ecological diversity and prevent future development on the property. Future development would increase sedimentation in the property’s neighboring streams which are currently listed as healthy and supporting aquatic life according to the 2020 Integrated Water Quality Report. Protecting the water quality of Rasler Run is of particular interest.
According to the Rasler Run Coldwater Conservation Plan (2003) this stream is one of twelve Class A Wild Rainbow Trout Fisheries in Pennsylvania and one of only five in the southwest region. Rasler Run hosts a naturally reproducing wild Rainbow Trout population as well as a small population of naturally reproducing wild Brook Trout. Both species make this an invaluable coldwater fishery. In addition to the watershed hosting this exceptional coldwater fishery, it is home to six different threatened and/or endangered species of flora and fauna and boasts scenic views of the Indian Creek Gorge. ́
Since 2000, MWA has been working to conserve land and improve recreational access to the Indian Creek Valley Gorge where this property is located. The Gorge has been identified as a Natural Heritage Area by the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy (WPC) due to its outstanding ecological diversity.
In 2018, MWA finished developing a 4.3 mile section of the Indian Creek Valley trail through the Gorge, which now sees thousands of visitors each year. Then, in 2021, we were approached by WPC regarding this property, which encompasses nearly 200 acres in need of conservation along Rasler Run and Indian Creek in the Gorge. Given our work to conserve the Gorge, MWA felt that acquiring the property served a natural extension of our work, and we agreed to pursue the necessary avenues to acquire the property.
This project will not only benefit the local community but also Pennsylvania at large since it will preserve the water quality of Rasler Run, which serves as one of the few Class A Wild Rainbow Trout Fisheries in the state. Currently, there is restricted access to fishing in Rasler Run since the majority of the land bordering the creek is privately owned. If we acquire the property, MWA will designate the land as a recreational access area, similar to the status of other properties MWA owns, finally making Rasler Run accessible for fishing. The property is across from the Indian Creek Valley Trail, allowing easy access to the acquired property to those wanting to fish, explore, and recreate.
Increasing the number of local and accessible recreation areas would allow those living in the nearby community to spend more time outside which reduces stress and improves both mental and physical health.
MWA is launching a fundraising campaign to help cover the cost of this valuable Rasler Run property. In addition to your generous donations, MWA will also be applying for grants that could potentially fund the Rasler Run project, ensuring that this property is both protected and serves the local community well.