Hays Woods purchase gets final OK, to be Pittsburgh’s 2nd largest park

PITTSBURGH — Hays Woods is a unique urban forest located right in Pittsburgh.

Because of these unique qualities, the city decided Tuesday to establish Hays Woods as a city park that will expand its value for generations to come while preserving and restoring important natural ecosystems!

Flanking the Monongahela River between the neighborhoods of Baldwin, South Side and Hays, its 660 acres consist of interior forest, wetlands, open streams, meadows, waterfalls and steep wooded slopes.

Its acreage supports diverse wildlife and plant communities and provides critical habitat for migrating neotropical birds. Six interior forest patches also provide valuable nesting habitat that is exceptional in an urban setting. The forest is home to two species of Special Concern: nesting bald eagles and red-fruited hawthorn trees.

For decades the site has acted as unofficial parkland. Visitors hike, bird watch, hunt, ski and cycle to enjoy its natural heritage in southwestern Pennsylvania.

In 2018, Mayor Peduto established the Hays Woods Task Force, led by Councilman Corey O’Connor and former Mayor Tom Murphy, to identify best land uses, opportunities and constraints for the area, and guiding principles for future site master planning.

The Department of City Planning has been awarded a $100,000 grant from the Department of Conservation and Natural Resource Community Conservation Program that will be matched by the City of Pittsburgh for a project total of $200,000. The grant will allow the master plan process to begin in 2020.

The Department of City Planning also received an abandoned mine land and drainage assessment grant through Trout Unlimited that will document issues related to former deep mining on the site and provide recommendations for remediation.

The city has been planning all along to designate all or most of the property as public parkland.

It will become the city’s second largest public park, behind Frick Park, which spans 644 acres.