White Township Stewardship Committee

(PHOTO:  Visitors to White Township’s popular forested park, White’s Woods, now can learn every day about the park’s trails and ridges, its programs and events, and importantly, its care and maintenance. An information kiosk, erected on the parking area at the North 12th Street entrance to White’s Woods, is part of the White Township Stewardship Committee’s plan to keep all the park’s users aware of the efforts being made to preserve this community asset. The Stewardship Committee members -- from left, Vice Chairman David Dahlheimer, Chairman Barbara Hauge, Matthew Klunk, Secretary Sierra Davis and Jeffrey Geesey -- visited the kiosk on April 28, soon after it’s installation by the White Township road department.)

Mission statement: The White Township Stewardship Committee is tasked with researching, fact-finding and updating the White Township stewardship plan including addressing comments from Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. The completed stewardship plan will be a guide, primarily, for the oversight and protection of White's Woods Nature Center using best practices and expert recommendations and, later, for other White Township properties.

The committee:
Barb Hauge, chairperson
David Dahlheimer, vice chairperson
Sierra Davis, secretary
Jeffrey Geesey
Matthew Klunk

Staff:
Township Manager Chris Anderson (canderson@whitetownship.org)
Recreation Director Ryan Shaffer (ryanshaffer@whitetownship.org)
PR/Communications Specialist Chauncey Ross, recording secretary (cross@whitetownship.org)

Meeting schedule:
The committee held its inaugural organizational meeting Thursday, Jan. 20 (click to view/download the minutes) at S&T Bank Arena, 497 East Pike Road.

The stewardship committee will meet at 6:30 p.m. on the third Thursday of each month of 2022 at the White Township municipal building meeting room, 950 Indian Springs Road, Indiana, Pa.:
Feb. 17 [Click to view/download the agenda][Click to view/download the minutes]
March 17: This meeting has been postponed to Thursday, March 31. [Click to vew/download the agenda][Click to view/download the minutes]
April 21 [Click to view/download the agenda (includes GoToMeeting remote access code)]
May 19 [Click to view/download the agenda (includes GoToMeeting remote access code)]
June 16
July 21
Aug. 18
Sept. 15
Oct. 20
Nov. 17
Dec. 15

Public input: Public comment is accepted at the committee's meetings in accordance with White Township policy, which permits each speaker 3 minutes to address the committee on agenda items at the start of the meeting and on non-agenda topics at the conclusion of the meeting. Those attending in person and those monitoring the meeting electronically are entitled to the same opportunities. The chairperson may waive the time limit for speakers. Stakeholders also may submit written comment to be read into the record during the meeting.

Those interested in the work of the stewardship committee may submit other comments including questions, suggestions, documents or other information at any time for use at the will of the committee.

Stakeholders not providing oral comment during the meetings may contact the committee by postal mail: White Township Stewardship Committee, 950 Indian Springs Road, Indiana, PA 15701 or by email to the township staff officers (listed above) for referral to the volunteer members of the committee.

Timeline:  From establishment at the January 2022 organization meeting, the stewardship committee shall not exceed 18-months to complete the mission unless permission is received from the supervisors to extend the deadline. By the end of 18-months a complete draft shall be submitted to the supervisors for review and approval.

Roadmap:

  1. 1 to 6 months - research and fact-finding:  The committee should discuss current literature and best practices and bring in various experts to present on a variety of topics including forestry, deer management, storm water mitigation etc. The committee may make requests to the supervisors to pay experts for consulting fees. The committee should accept proposals and make recommendations to the supervisors for approval. The committee will write periodic reports to the supervisors based on the research and fact finding.
  2. 6 to 12 months - robust discussion and community feedback:  The committee should establish a series of forums for public input that can include community surveys, open houses, webinars, focus groups and other avenues to engage the public. The committee will summarize the community feedback and provide periodic reports to the supervisors.
  3. 12 to 18 months - drafting and review of the stewardship plan:  The committee will assist in the drafting of a plan based on expert recommendations and community feedback. Once complete the draft plan will be submitted for review to the supervisors for review and approval.  The approved draft will then be submitted to DCNR. Any comments by DCNR will be addressed before finalizing the stewardship plan.     

Documents used in the committee's work (compilation in progress)
Draft of Stewardship Plan by Millstone Land Management submitted in 2020 to Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR)
Cover letter and Plan Review sent March 25, 2021, by DCNR to White Township
White's Woods Current Value & Future Care report submitted Jan. 20, 2022, by Friends of White's Woods
White's Woods Current Value & Future Care appendices submitted Jan. 20, 2022, by Friends of White's Woods
Forest Stewardship Conservation Tools, a library of links Jan. 25, 2022, on ConservationTools.org
Letter from FOWW President Sara King to committee Chairwoman Barbara Hauge, Feb. 8, 2022.
Public comment on Millstone plan compiled as township response to Sara King right-to-know request, August 2020.
Project 70 information in Sept. 20, 2021 letter from Sen. Pittman and Summer 2010 citizen guide by Widener University School of Law
Project 70 Land Acquisition and Borrowing Act, text of legislation enacted June 22, 1964
Legislation limiting liability of recreation land owners, House Bill 544 of 2017, amended Oct. 16, 2018
Land for Recreation -- Limiting Liability of owner, text of legislation enacted Feb. 2, 1996, amended Oct. 24, 2018
Park and Open Space Stewardship, an undated DCNR handout
Top 10 Conversion Issues of DCNR grant funded parks and open space

Feb. 17, 2022, meeting handouts:
Change.org petition;
an email message Jan. 26, 2022, from DCNR Grants News to Sara King;
an undated summary of strengths of the Friends of White's Woods draft plan;
an edited copy of the "Community Parks and Recreation Grants" page on the DCNR website;
a copy of 2022 DCNR land acquisition grant application instructions;
Overview of Pennsylvania Sunshine Act;
Allegheny Land Trust City Forest Carbon project information.

Sample stewardship plans submitted Feb. 28 by David Dahlheimer:
Managing Urban Forested Natural Areas, Penn State Extension
Natural Area Management Plan 2015, Elmhurst Park
Western PA Conservancy Land Stewardship
Natural Succession Plan 2022
McClellend Park Master Plan
Big Sewickley Creek Watershed
Willistown Township Plan

The Woods in Your Backyard workbook
The Woods in Your Backyard Case Study 1
The Woods in Your Backyard Case Study 2
The Woods in Your Backyard Appendix A
The Woods in Your Backyard Appendix B
The Woods in Your Backyard Appendix C
The Woods in Your Backyard Appendix D
The Woods in Your Backyard Part V workbook

Public input concerning White's Woods provided to the township in February and March 2022
March 31 meeting handouts

White Township Ordinance No. 851, with provisions concerning dogs on township property

Duff Park (Murrysville) stewardship plan