Restoring the health of the Hazelwood Greenway
Greenways are permanent conservation areas that were designated in the 1980s for steep abandoned hillsides following the collapse of Pittsburgh's steel industry.
In 2020, the Pittsburgh Greenways Partnership Program was created using the Hazelwood Greenway as a pilot program to show how greenways could improve social equity and climate resilience if communities were given financial support to maintain them. The great success of the program lead to an additional award of $433,000 to the City of Pittsburgh from the National Recreation and Parks Association to expand greenway restoration efforts in the city. Hazelwood Initiative is currently working with its partners and residents to plan continued restoration efforts for 2022.
The Hazelwood Greenway is a great place for snowshoeing because--with the increased elevation and shade from the trees--the snow stays on the trail longer than it does in the neighborhood. This first event in 2021 was free to residents thanks to support from Venture Outdoors.
Our Director of Outreach and Sustainability has led nearly 20 hikes of the greenway for both residents and visitors. The group pictured includes university researchers, residents, and members of Outdoor Afro.
In partnership with Venture Outdoors and the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy, two hikes dedicated to families with young children were done in 2021. Many families were surprised to learn that this hiking trail was so close by and were eager to explore it again in the future with their children!
This Earth Day weekend cleanup of glass and invasive wild garlic along the trail was organized by an Eagle Scout candidate of Boy Scout Troop 3945. Other cleanup have focused on removing car parts and other trash that has been dumped in the greenway, as well as cutting vines from the trees.
Allegheny Goatscape helped us to remove invasive Japanese knotweed and honeysuckle without chemicals. Additionally, the goats helped to fertilize the site and were a great source of enjoyment for visitors hiking in the greenway!
In November of 2021, Landforce planted 150 trees in the restoration area and community volunteers planted an additional 20 with support from Tree Pittsburgh. Fast growing tree varieties that would be able to quickly shade the area and prevent regrowth of the knotweed were selected. However, it was also important to acknowledge the history of the neighborhood with the tree selection. In keeping with our community's name, witch hazel and hazelnut trees were the main planting selections for the volunteer day.
Workforce Development & Trail Building
Landforce is a nonprofit organization that helps those with barriers to employment develop careers in habitat restoration and landscaping. Landforce moved sections of the existing trail from an eroding area and built a secondary trail loop off the existing trail as an option for those wanting a different view or shorter hike.
We are happy to partner with Chatham University and the Department of City Planning on looking at ways to stabilize the greenway in light of its many springs that can make trails treacherous or lead to erosion and tree loss, if not correctly managed.