Penn State hopeful of positive action on Rockview land proposal

July 29, 2008

University Park, Pa. -- The proposed sale of more than 1,100 acres of land to Penn State near the State Correctional Institution at Rockview recently won overwhelming approval from the state House of Representatives and the proposal has been sent to the state Senate for consideration in the coming months.

In June, the House voted 185-13 in favor of the proposal, reflecting the widespread support for the bill that would sell the land to Penn State for more than $1 million and allow the University to use the property for education, research and extension programs in agricultural, environmental and bio-energy areas.

Although there has been some vocal opposition to the proposal, there is strong support throughout much of the state and in the Centre Region for the University to take over management of the land. In fact, advocates sent more than 2,800 messages of support for this proposal to members of the state House of Representatives. For years, the possibility of selling this land to Penn State has been publicly discussed and numerous public meetings have been held.

"The proposed use of this land presents a tremendous opportunity to learn more about our environment and how to manage land carefully and appropriately," said Robert Steele, dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences, which would oversee the land. "This land also would then be opened to the public for recreational uses, such as hunting or fishing - something that is currently prohibited."

The legislation to sell the state-owned property includes stringent environmental protection provisions that Penn State must follow -- protections that do not currently exist. Strict conservation easements, consistent with a master plan to be developed with public input, would be incorporated into the property deed with the land reverting to the Commonwealth should any violations occur. Compliance with the environmental requirements will be monitored by two major environmental entities: the state's Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and the Clearwater Conservancy, a Centre-County based land trust and natural resource conservation organization.

Currently, the land is isolated from the rest of the Rockview prison property by Route 220/I-99 and it is not accessible to the general public.

Steele said Senate Bill 740, the legislation proposing this property sale, benefits not only the Centre Region, but all of Pennsylvania because it provides additional uses of the currently unmanaged land, while protecting and preserving the environment. Since Penn State is already well-known for its work in bioenergy and other environmental areas, the additional research and education that would come from this land could help position Pennsylvania as a leader in the search for renewable energy sources and in environmental stewardship.

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated March 19, 2009