Current Status of White's Woods Nature Center

Here is an updated outline of key documents and events regarding the current status of plans for the WWNC. 

  • On September 12, 2022, White Township announced in an article in The Hawkeye upcoming plans for bow hunting in White's Woodos

  • On July 21, 2022, Dr. Susan Boser presented the results of the "White's Woods Nature Center: Community Interest Study" to the White Township Board of Supervisors. The study was conducted by doctoral students Adam Jones, Joseph Fentzer, Richard Patterson, Noura Agbere, and Amal Alqahtni and directed by Dr. Boser. The study corroborated results from previous research: citizens say "no" to timbering and ask that they leave White's Woods as-

  • On June 27, 2022, Friends of White's Woods held a general membership meeting to discuss, in part, the mission of FWW to preserve White's Woods as a natural area by "allowing a natural succession into a mature hardwood forest."  Also discussed was the need for consulting ecological foresters. 

  • On May 25, 2022, the White Township Board of Supervisors, to the surprise of the White Township Stewardship Committee members and the public, submitted a Greenways Grant application for $25,000 to pay for consulting experts for White's Woods.  The Board of Supervisors' resolution approving this application cited the need for "professional foresters" to serve as consultants.

  • At the March 31, 2022, White Township Stewardship Subcommittee meeting, Chair Hauge implored the committee to "think about [the woods] in new ways"  and "be wide open" to suggestions for future designs.  The committee chair urged that the "sale of timber" be considered one of the possible uses of the woods, although she didn't think anyone in the room really wanted that.  Cutting timber so that young people could learn how to build wood structures, was another idea the chair suggested that committee members consider. "Sometimes we have to sacrifice a  bit of habitat to get people to appreciate it."  It is a "no brainer," said Chair Hauge, "we want people to love the area, even if we have to sacrifice habitat."  FWW note:  Project 70 lands are dedicated to recreation, conservation, and historical purposes and not for the purpose of revenue-production from timbering.

  • On February 17, 2022, the White Township Stewardship Subcommittee met for the second time.  The committee chair urged hiring a Westmoreland County consultant to manage public input and distributed forestry plans for privately-owned properties for the committee to consider. In the public comment period, FWW members urged the committee to (1) pursue the Allegheny Land Trust offer to facilitate a carbon sequestration contract for White’s Woods, (2) rely on natural succession and let the Woods mature into an old-growth forest, and (3) strictly adhere to Project 70 guidelines and, as such, to preserve the woods solely for recreation, conservation, or historical purposes.

  • On January 20, 2022, the White Township Stewardship Committee met for the first time.  White Township Recreation Director Ryan Shaffer distributed the 2020 Millstone Plan to the subcommittee members, suggesting that the group’s task is to revise it for re-submission.  FWW distributed a draft plan for the committee to consider, White’s Woods Nature Center: Current Value & Future Care.

  • At the December 16, 2021, White Township Board of Supervisors meeting, five applicants were appointed to the Township’s Stewardship Committee: David Dahlheimer, Sierra Davis, Barbara Hague, Jeffrey Geesey, and Mathew Klunk. Hauge will serve as the committee’s chair. 

  • Note 1:  The Township Stewardship Committee was originally named the “Woodlot Subcommittee.” FWW suggested that the name was misleading and requested that the committee be re-named.

  • Note 2:  One member of the White Township Stewardship Committee is a member of the FWW Board.

  • On September 22, 2021, White Township announced that they had received 18 applications for this subcommittee but had decided to extend the application deadline until October 6, 2021. (The large majority of the applications for subcommittee membership that were received by the Township by the original deadline were from FWW members.)

  • White Township established a Stewardship Subcommittee (a subcommittee of the Township’s Recreation Committee), on August 25, 2021.

  • All activity in WWNC was on hold for over a year pending DCNR review of a 100-page draft plan the Township has submitted to DCNR. The DCNR review was issued on March 25, 2021.

  • FWW hired Applachian Forestry consultant Mike Wolf to conduct a comprehensive evaluation of WWNC, June 2020.

  • FWW compiled a 253-page response to the Township draft plan, submitted July 22, 2020.

  • FWW hired Dr. Sara Kuebbing and Dr. Marion Holmes, University of Pittsburgh, Invasive Plant Laboratory, to complete an Inventory of Native and Invasive Plant Species in the White’s Woods Nature Center and to make recommendations for management, April 2021.  (Report completed, October 2021).

  • FWW has scheduled seminars for the public regarding: 

    • the use of goats to control invasive plants,

    • the health of White’s Woods,

    • funds for carbon capture,

    • the impact of forests on controlling stormwater,

    • forest songbirds the health benefits of a community forest,

    • ecological impact of invasive plants,

    • measuring the value of the WWNC to the public, 

    • the history of White's Woods, and

    • preserving town-owned forests.

More Details: White's Woods Status

  • FWW has brought suit alleging violations of Sunshine Laws and the Second Class Township Code regarding the bidding process.
  • White Township held a Special Meeting on July 22, 2020, to re-do all of the votes alleged to have occurred in Executive Session, thereby legally mooting the FWW Sunshine Complaint.
  • On November 2, 2020, the Indiana County Court of Pleas issued a ruling that over-ruled White Township’s two preliminary objections; a pre-trial conference was scheduled for November 25, 2020.
  • Read the November 18, 2020, legal and DCNR update.

  • At the December 16, 2020, Township meeting, Supervisor George Lenz distributed the 1995 Beale plan for review.

  • FWW engaged Davey Tree Experts to conduct an i-Tree Analysis of the White’s Woods Nature Center in December 2020

  • Davey representative Todd Sherbondy presented the White’s Woods i-Tree Analysis at the January 27, 2021 White Township Board of Supervisors' meeting and is scheduled to present this information at a March 4, 2021 webinar as well.

  • Shari Edelson, Director of Operations at the Penn State Arboretum will present a webinar regarding the Hartley Wood restoration project on April 15, 2021.

  • The White Township Plan to remove 30 to 50 percent of the WWNC trees and rototill the entire forest floor–which will kill more trees and cause an explosion of invasive plants–has not been revised.

  • DCNR rejected the White Township Stewardship Plan!

    • During the April 14, 2021, White Township Board of Supervisors meeting, it was announced that the DCNR review had been received.

    • Two DCNR documents, one from Bureau of Recreation and Conservation Director Tom Ford (the DCNR division that oversees Project 70 lands), dated March 25 and a Bureau of Forestry “technical review,” (prepared for the BCR as part of this review process), dated March 23, were sent by DCNR to White Township.

  • The Township posted only the Bureau of Forestry technical review. FWW obtained a copy of Director Ford’s letter in an open records request. See both DCNR documents and the FWW and media response

  • At the same April 14, 2021 Board meeting—though not listed on the agenda—the Supervisors named four people (three foresters and one WT Supervisor) to serve on a new WWNC management plan committee.

  • FWW sent a letter to the Township, pointing out that this committee appears wholly inconsistent with both the BOF technical review recommendations and available DCNR documents regarding the role of public input in project planning. 

  • Individual FWW members are also now contacting the Township to inform them of their dismay at this committee constellation and process—and to volunteer to serve on this committee!

  • FWW sent a letter to White Township suggesting the Township seek available DCNR funds to develop a management plan for White's Woods in a process consistent with DCNR’s Public Participation Guidelines, ​April 28, 2021

  • At the May 12 Township Meeting, the Supervisors announced the five applicants appointed to the new Recreation Advisory Board. None of the appointees are members of FWW, although eight members applied.

  • On June 2, 2021, FWW lawsuit was heard by Senior Judge William Martin. Attorney briefs are due by July 9, and a decision is expected by late summer.

  • On August 5, Senior Judge William Martin denied FWW’s request for an injunction to stop the invasive treatment plan for the WWNC. (This part of the ruling was of little consequence because this invasive treatment plan was blocked by DCNR in their March 25, 2021 response to the White Township Stewardship plan.) The judge also ruled that all of the WWNC Millstone contracts should be regarded as “professional services,” negating any requirement for advertised bids.

  • White Township posted a Deer Management Plan (Bow-hunting plan) on August 25, 2021, and invited feedback to be emailed to the Township by September 17, 2021.

  • FWW distributed a survey regarding the bow hunting plan.  Both the FWW membership and, after August 25, the Indiana regional community were invited to fill out the survey.  There were 150 respondents.  The majority opposed the bow-hunting plan. The survey results were presented to the Township via email on September 17 and, also, in person at the September 22, 2021 Board of Supervisors meeting.

  • White Township announced that a “Woodlot Subcommittee” would be appointed to revise the management plan for the WWNC.

  • Application deadline: September 22, 2021.

  • On September 22, 2021, White Township announced that they had received 18 applications for this subcommittee but had decided to extend the application deadline until October 6, 2021.

  • Sept 28, 2021  Alyson Fearon, Senior Director of Community Conservation and Resiliency for the Allegheny Land Trust, offered to facilitate a carbon-offset contract for the White’s Woods Nature Center during her FWW Webinar. (See details.)

  • On October 21, 2021, White Township held an “Open House” for township residents to speak one-on-one with representatives from the Pennsylvania Game Commission, the Penn State Extension, the National Deer Hunting Association, and the IUP Department of Biology who support bow hunting in White’s Woods.