Sunday, April 12, 2015

Late Springdale Township couple's donation will create 2nd public hunting land in Allegheny County

Abby Lund, 4, granddaughter of Louis and Flo Gagliardi,
 traces the letters on a sign honoring the Gagliardis
as donors of 42 acres in Springdale Township for use as
state game lands at a ceremony on High Street on
 Friday, April 10, 2015. Eric Felack | Trib Total Media

Louis and Flo Gagliardi enjoyed hiking the hills of the Harwick section of Springdale Township.

The Gagliardis loved the woods near their home so much they systematically bought up some of the land.

Now, their names are memorialized on a sign erected on land their family is donating to the Pennsylvania Game Commission.

The newest state game land is a compact 42 acres, but it's only the second game lands open to public hunting in Allegheny County.

“It's significant,” said Jack Lucas, a land management supervisor for the commission and an Oakmont native.

There are almost 1.5 million acres of public hunting areas in the state. But until now, only the 1,245-acre Game Lands 203 near Wexford is available to hunters in Allegheny County.
Lucas said the commission is delighted with the addition.

Louis, a miner, and Flo, a homemaker, lived in mining company houses before they moved into their house along Crones Hollow Road. At one time, at least three other families lived nearby.

The Gagliardi family buried one child at the top of the Harwick hill above what is now High Street, off Yutes Run Road, and welcomed the arrival of other children before moving to School Street in Springdale, the family said.

“My father would look up at the hills and see the trees blooming in the spring. He knew all the names of trees and wild flowers and he knew animals. He was a naturalist,” said Carrol Gagliardi Lund, a daughter, who is a speech pathologist now living in Florida.

Her brother, Tony Gagliardi, a retired union equipment operator and Navy veteran, said his father looked for ways to buy land in the area.

“He didn't have a lot of money and had to wait more than 20 years,” Tony Gagliardi said. “I knew my dad was interested in this property since the 1940s and he couldn't afford it.”
Then regional progress intervened.

At one time, Crones Hollow Road connected to Pillow Avenue and Main Street, but in the 1960s, construction of the Route 28 expressway cut it off, making the land less desirable for development, and therefore, more affordable.

Louis Gagliardi started small and bought one parcel. Others followed, until he eventually he had more than 40 acres.

Flo Gagliardi died in 2000; Louis passed in 2006.

When Allegheny County reassessed its property, their children filed unsuccessful tax assessment appeals. The family then tried to sell the acreage, but didn't find a buyer.
So donating the land for a conservation use seemed to be the logical next step.

During Friday's dedication ceremony, Lund's pre-school granddaughter, Abby Lund, of Mossup, Conn., took advantage of her bright pink rain boots to splash in the runoff. Later she and Tony Gagliardi's grandson, Austin Gagliardi, a bio-chemistry major at Duquesne University, admired the sign.

Austin, of Herman, Butler County, thinks his grandparents would be happy.
Game Commission staffers were pleased, too.

The Game Commission said it will add a parking lot. Drainage improvements are needed, too.

Game lands maintenance manager Steve Carey's crew will spend time improving habitat.
The tract has deer, turkey, some other game birds, rabbits and other small mammals and coyotes.

The Commission appreciates the gift and establishing a public hunting area, Lucas said.
“This is, indeed, only the second game lands in Allegheny County,” he said. “This is a historic day for us.”

Chuck Biedka is a staff writer for Trib Total Media and a member of Bull Creek Rod and Gun Club

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