Current Status of Wingfield Pines & the AMD System
On a cold, misty morning in November 2017, ALT staff was hiking Wingfield Pines and sensed that something was different: there was an eerie quiet created by the absence of flowing water. Upon approaching the much-acclaimed abandoned mine drainage system, it was discovered that there was a serious problem: water was no longer flowing to and through the passive AMD system.
An underground geologic event overnight had caused the water to burst forth from another location on the site and flow directly into the creek, staining it with an orange iron-oxide pollution plume for the first time in a decade. Following two years of tireless work securing funding, identifying repair options, and managing the complex project to restore the system to full functionality, the system is now fixed! As of fall 2019, the AMD system is once again capturing and cleansing the water, the wetland is teeming with wildlife, and Wingfield Pines has returned to its status as a premier conservation area.
Now, the ALT Stewardship Team will spend the coming year implementing conservation objectives outlined in the recently-published comprehensive site management plan.
Wingfield Pines is located within the townships of Upper St. Clair and South Fayette in the southwestern corner of Allegheny County. It is situated within the floodplain of Chartiers Creek, which meanders along the western edge of the property. It was formerly a site plagued by Abandoned Mine Drainage (AMD); we were able to hire environmental engineer Bob Hedin to implement an aesthetically pleasing passive treatment system that visitors can walk through to watch the water transition from murky orange to natural, clean clear water flowing into Chartiers Creek.
Initially, a priority for protection due to its ability to hold and filter water during periods of heavy flooding, Wingfield Pines is now a community hub for recreation and education in the immersive wetlands that offer an outdoor laboratory for students from local high schools, universities, and educational programs. There is also a one-mile loop of flat trail at the bottom of the access road attracting four- and two-legged visitors alike.
Throughout the year, the conservation area is open dawn to dusk for passive recreation and is a favorite destination for many local hikers, bikers, and boaters who access Chartiers Creek from the Wingfield Pines launch site.
Parking is available in the lot next to the roadside Wingfield Pines sign. The gate is normally closed and the main property sits at the bottom of the access road. If the parking area is full, please park in the Recreation Center lot across the street.
Please find the Wingfield Pines Land Use & Pet Policy in the following PDF: More information at this link.
The land has seen more than of its share of use and abuse. Strip-mined in the 1940’s, and later turned into the Wingfield Pines Golf and Swim Club, Wingfield Pines is among several restoration and enhancement projects undertaken in the Chartiers Valley. It follows the trend of green corridors and ecological parks that are currently being developed in this watershed.
Allegheny Land Trust purchased the 87-acre conservation area in December 2001. The acquisition was made possible in part by a PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources grant. Other funders included the Henry Hillman Foundation, USC Citizens for Land Stewardship, and the William and Francis Aloe Charitable Trust.
Working in conjunction with local environmental groups, we designed and implemented a passive treatment system to address the Abandoned Mine Drainage (AMD) problem on the site. The system mitigates 43 tons of iron oxides flowing into Chartiers Creek. Completed in 2009, the system operates by gravity and treats iron-laden mine discharge that is running at 1,500 – 2,000 gallons per minute across the property before it enters Chartiers Creek. The AMD treatment system occupies approximately 20 – 25 acres of the 87-acre site. In addition to recovering iron oxide from the water, the system accommodates trails, a wetland boardwalk, overlooks, and interpretative signage providing educational opportunities.