USC Citizens for Land Stewardship
Conservation and stewardship of land and natural resources in Upper St. Clair, PA

2001 Governor's Award for Watershed Stewardship
2002 Enviro Star Award



USC Citizens for Land Stewardship (USC CLS) is a community conservation organization serving Upper St.Clair, PA.
Here you will find information about local conservation happenings and issues. CLS also offers a variety of outdoor activities
in celebration of our area's wonderful natural spaces  throughout the year!

Be sure to check this page often for news of what is happening or coming up in the natural world of USC!

                      Consider this when you vote
Citizens for Land Stewardship has been concerned about the environment since it's founding more than 10 years ago.  We have worked with our local government to make science - based improvements in our Township.  (Read about watershed stewardship elsewhere on this website.) More recently, the changing climate has intensified heavy rain activity that has overwhelmed the improvements made in the McLaughlin Run watershed.  In fact, an Upper St. Clair resident lost her life as flood waters covered the road.  USCCLS knows that government action is critical to managing the reality of global warming.  Who we elect will decide how governments at all levels will act,  Rod Elder, a friend in Mt. Lebanon , studies the climate and sent us this email.  The Directors of  USCCLS agreed to share it with you.

Hello all.


Most of the people who receive these messages are keenly aware of the dangers facing humans if the rapidly heating climate is not addressed in a major way in the very near future.  The world's leading climate scientists issued the results of their scientific studies in a special issue of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report in 2018.  This report stated that the people of planet earth have until 2030 to take the actions which will result in a 50% reduction in the amount of greenhouse gas emissions.  If this goal is not achieved, the earth will heat more than 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degree Fahrenheit).  This increase in temperature will move us from bad to terrible relative to the impacts on humans.  


To put this effort in perspective, the reduction in CO2 emissions because of the economic slowdown relative to the current virus problems is estimated to be 5% to 8%.  In order to meet the IPCC goals we will need to reduce emissions by approximately that amount every year until 2030 


These goals are difficult but can be reached if the proper actions are taken.  Current greenhouse gas reductions are encouraging, but are very far short of what is needed to meet the necessary impacts on the heating of our planet.  Plans have been developed for actions that will meet these greenhouse gas reductions and will also produce millions of new jobs.


Dr. James Hansen, one of the most respected climate scientists in the world, has co-authored, with Daniel Miller, an excellent piece describing the proposal on a Carbon Fee and Dividend now before the House of Representatives (HR 763).  I feel the Fee and Dividend approach has the highest possibility of success of any action now being considered. I strongly recommend that everyone read the article at the following link. .


I know many of the people who receive these messages are good climate citizens.  You have reduced your climate footprints by doing all of the right things.  This is great and it is important --  but it is not sufficient.  There is still a vast majority of people who are not taking any steps to reduce their climate impact.  Also, industry and agriculture are not sufficiently motivated to make the changes needed.  In order to make the necessary changes happen, major actions are required by our political leaders.


The list of climate effects happening now on our planet is sobering.  The ice on Greenland and Antarctica is melting at an alarming rate and this has the potential of sea level rise of many feet.  Heat kills more people than any other climate event and rising land temperatures are causing massive heat waves in ever increasing locations.  This heat is also causing large areas to become deserts.  Storms are becoming stronger and more frequent and severe weather is making it more difficult to raise the food necessary to feed the increasing populations.  Climate refugees are becoming a major problem for many nations and will get much worse.  Wildfires are becoming more frequent and more devastating.  The list goes on..


It is critical that elected officials understand these threats to future generations and are prepared to take action to deal with the climate crisis.


The single most important action you can take to deal with the climate crisis is to VOTE.  The current election is going to be critical in determining whether the greenhouse gas reduction goals will be met by 2030 and therefore the future climate direction for many years to come.  


Please look at all candidates and determine whether they understand the climate problem and are prepared to take the necessary actions to send us in the proper direction.  We must vote for the best people to deal with this at all levels of government.  In addition to our votes, it is important to discuss this issue with others and attempt to have them understand how important this vote is.


For those of you who have attended one of my talks you may remember my final slide.  It states -- " No matter what your cause, it is a lost cause unless we control the climate crisis."  This is now more true than ever.  Climate is, by far, the most important issue of these times and this election will be critical in determining the future of our families, our communities, our nation, and our planet.


The climate crisis is real and it is happening now.  Please vote for the candidates who will help us out of the crisis and also encourage others to do the same.


Stay safe,  


The ROCIS Cohort Completes Project in February 2020

The  USC Citizens for Land Stewardship voted at its Annual Meeting on November 19th in the McLauchlin Run Activity Center to form a ROCIS study.  ROCIS stands for Reducing Outdoor Contaminants in Indoor Spaces. With a focus on particles (PM2.5 and smaller), this initiative explores the interaction between air pollution and indoor air quality, and tests strategies to reduce exposure.  The project’s center piece involves recruiting, training, and empowering citizen scientists to use low-cost monitors.  As a result, participants discover ways to improve their personal air quality while contributing data and insights that collectively benefit others.  Click on this link for more information:  What is ROCIS?


Standard wisdom is that opening windows to bring in outside air is healthy.  Is this really true today?  In Southwest Pennsylvania there are significant amounts of tiny particles in our air that we can't see. These particles can embed themselves deep in our lungs.  ROCIS is exploring this issue and is utilizing groups of citizen scientists to do the air monitoring. Pictured above are our current participants, each holding one of the monitoring devices they will use in their homes. The research project was compled in late February.  The results are available through ROCIS.  The participants had a good time and learned a lot about their indoor and outdoor air quality and ways to make the indoor air better.  

USC CLS strives to serve our community   

As an organization, we are committed to promoting:
  • education on environmental issues

  • prudent and ethical land use policies to protect and enhance natural resources

  • awareness of the value of our natural landscapes

  • recognition of the enjoyment and benefits of natural spaces within our community

  • activities that promote harmony between people and nature

  • watershed restoration and re-introduction of native plant species

Current Issues: 

Strip Mining - The Risk is Past

Mayview State Hospital property is being developed without mining

South Fayette Township is working with Charter Homes & Neighborhoods of Lancaster to create a new development to be called Hastings.  The first phase will consist of 44 single-family homes, 49 townhouses and 260 apartments along with a restaurant, pool, clubhouse and day-care center.  Upper St. Clair Township is working with the developer to provide a connecting trail across or around this property so that the Boyce Mayview Park Perimeter Trail can connect to a proposed connection to the Montour Trail which is south of the site.

The developer does not plan to either strip mine or conduct fracking on the site.  USC CLS actively encouraged the South Fayette Planning Commission not to approve a zoning change which would have enabled the site to be strip mined before developed for longer term uses.  We are pleased that this is not going to happen.  We will be following the project as it develops and encourage responsible land use practices when appropriate..

light pollution

Light Polution

Boyce Mayview Park has become one of the most successful stories of conservation in Upper St. Clair, as well as a fantastic resource for our community with the Community and Recreation Center, many hiking trails, and The Outdoor Classroom. USC CLS is proud to have been a voice in the process that has allowed the Master Plan to come to life on the 450 acre site. However, while the development of the site into an accessible and popular park has been inspiring, it is important to consider the effects that any development have on the natural spaces nearby. One of the main issues that comes into play with any developed space is light pollution. As of July 1, 2013, Upper St. Clair Township has approved temporary lighting for the ball fields at Boyce Mayview Park, including the Miracle Field.

USC CLS understands the appeal of lighting the fields for evening ball games with bright, stadium-style lighting in the park. However, USC CLS is hoping to eliminate any unnecessary use of these lights in order to minimize the effects that light pollution will have on not only the habitats in Boyce Mayview Park, but also the wildlife and people living in surrounding areas.

What is light pollution and why is it a concern? Light pollution can be described as the often disruptive impact of artificial light on both the darkness of the night sky and the light-related biological rhythms of life in the lighted area. As stated in a 2008 National Geographic report on light pollution, “Ill-designed lighting washes out the darkness of night and radically alters the light levels—and light rhythms—to which many forms of life, including ourselves, have adapted. Wherever human light spills into the natural world, some aspect of life—migration, reproduction, feeding—is affected.” You are likely already familiar with the effects of light pollution if you have ever compared the view of the night sky in a city to a rural area. However, the effects of light pollution are not limited to cities; the type of lighting proposed for the athletic fields at Boyce Mayview Park would bring the same negative outcomes of light pollution to the surrounding areas in USC. We are calling for a sensible plan for the management of these lights, including exploring options such as timers and pay per use similar to the successful setup of the township tennis bubbles.

Below are some useful links to learn more about light pollution, including the website of the International Dark Sky Association.

Looking to get involved? Volunteer with us!

There are many volunteer opportunities with USC CLS.  Are you a student  in need of service hours? Are you retired and looking for a way to stay active and involved in the community? Do you have special skills that you could use to assist a small community group? Do you simply love the great outdoors? No matter what your interests, USC CLS can use your help! We are a friendly, passionate community and would love to have you on board. Please contact us at for more information.


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Visit this page often for the latest CLS news and events!