Asbury Woods Receives DCNR Grant
Investing time and resources into active land management, restoration projects, and conservation is part of Asbury Woods’ mission to protect and interpret our property. As announced by the office of Pennsylvania State Representative Ryan Bizzarro, a $271,000 grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources will help Asbury Woods conserve an additional 51 acres of land.
On April 7, 2021, Asbury Woods purchased 11.32 acres of land located at 5031 West 38th Street. This is the first addition of conserved land to the Asbury Woods holdings since 1995. This parcel was previously privately owned; its acquisition by Asbury Woods ensures it will be permanently conserved as green space. This purchase was made possible by a 0% loan from the ColComm Revolving Loan Fund of the Western PA Conservancy, a loan funded dedicated to helping organizations such as Asbury Woods purchase and conserve additional land. The DCNR grant will allow Asbury Woods to pay back that loan.
The 11 acres was a key acquisition as it borders 40 acres of land owned by Mercyhurst University, which Asbury Woods is working with the University to acquire with the DCNR funding. The Mercyhurst University property is a vital piece of the continuous greenway between the Nature Center and Browns Farm and includes frontage to West 38th Street. (See Land Map Below).
Asbury Woods is actively fundraising for the local match to the DCNR grant as the grant covers half of the appraised value for the properties that are to be conserved. Local funding will also be used to update Asbury Woods’ long-term land management plan to include the additional acreage. The land management plan will establish goals for use of the property, outlining public benefits, including proposed improvements to the trail system, buildings, and ecological issues.
Land Acquisition History
In 1993 Erie businessman Douglas James donated 40 acres of land to Mercyhurst University to create the James Wildlife Preserve. It was vital in building a continuous greenway between the Nature Center and Browns Farm. The 40 acres included frontage on West 38th Street and were formerly part of a large farm the Von Buseck Family owned.
The 11-acre parcel acquired by Asbury Woods was also formerly part of the Von Buseck farmstead. While currently undeveloped, it previously had a farmhouse on the site, which was dismantled in 2013 by Kidder Architects after being neglected and abandoned for decades. The 1815 saltbox farmhouse lives on East 5th and German Streets, where it was rebuilt in 2018 and made into apartments.
Technical assistance for the DCNR grant from the Lake Erie Region Conservancy.