Enjoying Conserved Properties

The Westmoreland Land Trust views public access as one of the many public benefits of its land and water protection work and as such will permit the broadest access to the property possible without jeopardizing the conservation values for which a property is protected.

Note: The public is advised that entry upon any property shall be at their own risk and that use is governed by the Land Management Plan for WLT properties.

Leave No Trace Practices

WLT embraces the principles of Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics (LNT).  The following are some general practices, modeled on the LNT principles, that apply to all WLT properties.  Visitors will be encouraged to practice the following and this information may be included on signage, brochures and/or on the organizations website.

  • Pack it in, pack it out. Inspect your areas of visitation for trash or spilled foods. Pack out all trash, leftover food, and litter even if it’s not yours.
  • Preserve the past. Examine, but do not touch, cultural or historic structures and artifacts.
  • Leave rocks, plants and other natural objects as you find them.
  • Avoid introducing or transporting non-native species.
  • Do not build structures or furniture, and do not dig trenches.
  • Observe wildlife from a distance. Do not follow or approach them. Never feed animals. Feeding wildlife damages their health, alters natural behaviors, and exposes them to predators and other dangers.
  • Protect wildlife and your food by storing rations and trash securely.
  • Control pets at all times, or leave them at home.
  • Avoid wildlife during sensitive times: mating, nesting, raising young, and winter.
  • Respect other visitors and protect the quality of their experience. Be courteous. Yield to other users on the trail.
  • Let nature’s sounds prevail. Avoid loud noises.

Permitted and Prohibited Uses of WLT Properties

The types of permitted uses will be addressed in each property’s management plan and will be based on the requirements needed to meet the plan’s management objectives and not jeopardize the conservation values and public benefit of the site.  Generally, passive recreation, which includes hiking, observing nature, and other similar natural pursuits, is encouraged on WLT properties. The following guidance is provided on uses outside those cited above.

  • Snow-shoeing and cross-country skiing:  These activities are all encouraged on WLT properties.  Visitors are encouraged to remain on trails when possible and to wear fluorescent orange during hunting season.WLT views snow-shoeing and cross-country skiing as low-impact, passive uses on its properties and will encourage them as a means to enjoy, understand, appreciate and learn to be good stewards of the natural resources.
  • Education:  WLT encourages the use of its properties for educational purposes that promote environmental awareness.
  • Recreational Trails:Trails may be constructed on WLT property with the development of an appropriate trail plan that is reviewed and approved by the WLT.The Land Trust may limit the size of groups using our property if, due to the physical characteristics of the property (soils, slopes, sensitive wildlife), it is determined that damage may result from large-group use.
  • Geocaching: Geochaching is permitted on WLT properties by approval only.  WLT believes that geochaching can be a unique way to enjoy nature while using new technology to explore the landscape. Traveling off trail and disturbing vegetation and/or geologic formations and soil are sometimes necessary to find a cache.  This activity may be in direct conflict with the Land Trust’s desire to protect conservation or cultural values of a site and so permission to geocache is on a case – by – case basis, according to the following policy, adopted October 14, 2011.
  1. Placement of geocaches on lands owned by the Westmoreland Land Trust (WLT) requires authorization of the Stewardship Committee of the Board of Directors.  This authorization will be considered through a review process, which begins with the receipt of the completed Request to Place a Geocache Form.  This review process may also include a Pennsylvania Natural Diversity Inventory search (PNDI), which insures its location is compatible with management activities as well as a site visit by a member or designee of the committee.
  2. WLT reserves the right to request the removal of a geochache at anytime.
  3. A geocache contact person responsible for necessary upkeep of the site must be identified prior to approval.
  4. There should be no earth disturbance or vegetative impact to any approved site, nor should the cache be readily discernable by the general public.
  5. Cache(s) shall not be placed in a plastic (PVC) pipe.
  6. Cache name must be clearly visible on the exterior of all geocache containers.
  7. A cache may remain at the approved site for no more than three years without reauthorization, at which time it must be removed, the site restored to its original condition, and the WLT informed in writing of the removal.  This will control cache abandonment and assist in preventing renegade trail development to the site.
  8. Unauthorized geocaches on WLT lands will be removed and treated as abandoned property, and the responsible person may be cited for littering.
  9. Responsible party shall delete site location(s) from all publications and/or website(s) within seven days of removal.
  • Research: WLT encourages appropriate research to further our knowledge of species and natural communities on our properties.  Any party interested in conducting appropriate research on WLT properties should submit a proposal to the WLT for consideration.
  • Dogs:Dogs are permitted on WLT property unless otherwise posted.  Where dogs are permitted, all dogs must be leashed and under the control of the owner at all times.  Owners are required to pack out pet waste.WLT recognizes that dogs provide a sense of security and protection for property users.  However, dogs can be injurious to wildlife that is a conservation value of the Land Trust.  Dogs can also infringe on the activities and enjoyment of other visitors so they must be under control at all times.
  • Plant, Wildlife, Mineral, and Historical/Cultural Resource Collecting:The collection of plants, wildlife, minerals, and historical/cultural artifacts from WLT property by the public is not permitted.Introduction of exotic plants and animals is prohibited. Introduction of native plants and animals is by permission only and on a case-by-case basis. Scientific collection of plants, animals, prehistoric artifacts, and other inorganic materials is by written approval of the WLT only. Specimens must be deposited in a public depository such as a museum or other academic institution.WLT believes removal of natural materials can lead to damage in a variety of ways and that our lands and waters are primarily intended to retain as much of their natural qualities as possible. We recognize that there are times when scientific collection is a valuable tool to further understand land and waters and their ecological functions. We will grant written permission for collection that furthers our understanding of the land and waters that will be properly cared for, and made available to the overall scientific community.  Redundant collections may be required.  This information will be made available to WLT to aid in its further understanding of the resources under its management and care.
  • Hunting and Trapping:  Hunting and trapping may be permitted on WLT property as a natural resource management tool and/or as determined by the management plan for a specific property.  All hunting must be in accordance with Pennsylvania Game Law and local ordinances. Tree stands can be used, but only if they are designed to have no impact to trees and are removed after each use.
  • Use of Firearms: The use of firearms is prohibited on WLT property, except as part of an approved hunt to manage wildlife.
  • Fishing:Fishing, consistent with state law, is permitted on WLT property unless noted otherwise in the management plan for a specific property.WLT believes that fishing is a wholesome activity and should be permitted on Land Trust properties as long as fishermen (-women) are responsible.
  • Camping: Camping is not permitted on WLT property, unless specified in the management plan for a specific property.  Special exceptions may be made in writing by the WLT.
  • Campfires: Campfires are not permitted on WLT properties.
  • Horses:Horseback riding is not permitted on WLT properties unless deemed appropriate in the management plan for a specific property.WLT believes that while horseback riding can bring individuals closer to natural land, riding on unhardened trails can have damaging environmental effects.  It can also create trail conditions that are unsuitable for other, more passive, users.
  • Mountain Bikes: Mountain bikes are not permitted on WLT properties unless deemed appropriate in the management plan for a specific property.
  • Snowmobiles: The use of snowmobiles on WLT property is prohibited, except under certain circumstances such as a medical emergency or property maintenance by WLT.
  • All-Terrain Vehicles, Dirt Bikes, and Four-Wheel Drive Vehicles: The use of all-terrain vehicles, dirt bikes and four-wheel drive vehicles is prohibited, except under certain circumstances such as medical emergency or property maintenance by WLT.
  • Invasive Species: Invasive species are organisms that are not native to the natural ecosystems of western Pennsylvania and, as such, become problematic and threaten the survival of native species.  Any species that is not native to the ecosystems for which WLT is managing is not permitted on Land Trust properties and will be removed.
  • Dumping: Dumping of any materials, including private household waste, landscaping materials and municipal waste, is strictly prohibited on WLT properties.Dumping of materials creates a health and human safety liability, and threatens natural resources.