Shaler Area High School students raising money to preserve land in Girty’s Run Watershed

MILLVALE, Pa. — This land was intended to be a sprawling development. But there’s an effort underway by Shaler students, who are working to make it a permanent green space.

PHOTOS: Shaler Area High School students raising money to preserve land in Girty’s Run Watershed in Millvale

“It is possible to make a lasting difference, something as small as a donation,” high school student Connor McAninch said.

Students in the sustainability class at Shaler Area High School are trying to preserve this former farmland that spans 62 acres in Reserve and Shaler.

Abbey Nilson is the sustainability teacher.

“A sustainability class is all about protecting our environment for future generations,” Nilson said.

The class partnered with the nonprofit Allegheny Land Trust to raise $5,000 by selling flower seeds that attract the endangered monarch butterflies.

“So these are milkweed plants. You guys of seen these in class. This is what the monarch butterflies need to survive,” Nilson said.

The money would go toward the purchase price of $650,500 for this property in the Girty’s Run Watershed.

It’s called the Reserve-Shaler Project.

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“This land is pretty critical in the Girty’s Run Watershed. It’s holding back about 51 million gallons of rainwater annually that would otherwise contribute to an exacerbated flooding issue that Millvale is all too familiar with,” Lindsay Dill from the Allegheny Land Trust said.

“Millvale in particular is at the bottom of the watershed, all the way to the end. It’s no secret to the world that we flood quite often. So really any measure to protect what’s already in space to be reserve rainwater is a good cause for us,” Melissa Mason from Millvale Community Development Corporation said.

“I, like, experienced the flooding even in our basement. And how important the watershed is,” high school student Sophia Trgovic said.

This is the second project by Shaler students — the class also raised money to buy Girty’s Woods — a 155-acre parcel in Reserve, Millvale and Shaler that became permanent green space after it was secured by the land trust.

“I can’t stress into words how important it is to preserve the nature around us,” McAninch said.

“It’s so exciting to see these young students get involved in this kind of work and make an impact on the environment at such a young age,” Nilson said.

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