Looking Downstream

Submitted photo

Mountain Watershed Association accepted a donation of a 21-acre tract of undeveloped land along Indian Creek in Saltlick Township. The organization plans to construct a public canoe and kayak launch on the property.

MELCROFT — Mountain Watershed Association, headquartered at Melcroft, Fayette County, has received a donation of a 21-acre tract of undeveloped land along Indian Creek in Saltlick Township. The parcel was donated by the Miller Family in memory and honor of Willis B. Miller and Mary L. (Swisher) Miller who made a lifetime of contributions to the Melcroft-area community.

Mountain Watershed’s commitment to keep the land, which is entirely forested and habitat for diverse songbirds and other wildlife, open to public access is in keeping with the Millers’ enjoyment of nature and long tradition of community service. Mountain Watershed plans to construct a canoe and kayak launch ramp to provide boaters access to float trips on Indian Creek. The tract will also serve as a preserved scenic corridor for the existing Indian Creek Valley Trail, a popular hiking and biking path developed by Mountain Watershed Association.

Willis Miller worked underground as a coal miner in Melcroft-area mines for more than 40 years, so he valued his opportunities to savor the open air and sunshine. He also served for decades as a member of the local Lions Club, raising funds for service projects, and directing a program through which used eyeglasses were refurbished and provided to those in need.

Mary L. (Swisher) Miller received her nursing degree from the University of Pittsburgh but returned to the mountains to serve her neighbors in the Well-Baby program, traveling winding mountain roads on horseback to help young mothers with their infant children. This program, led by Dr. Eleanor Morris, provided resources and education for parents about their baby’s early development, and the work required a stalwart dedication to the region.

Mary and Willis understood both our privilege to enjoy open space and wild places, and our responsibility to maintain them for the future. When opportunities arose through their lives, the couple travelled throughout all 48 continental states hiking and camping through national and state parks. At home, they enjoyed the local biodiversity, becoming avid birders with notebooks full of species observed, locations, and dates of sightings.

The Miller family has donated to the community before, including a strip of land across from the Indian Head Church of God, meant to preserve the tranquility of the sacred space.

Mountain Watershed Association will uphold the memory of Willis and Mary by dedicating the donated land’s use for conservation, recreation, and education.

For more information about Mountain Watershed Association’s many programs in outdoor recreation, environmental restoration, and education, visit www.mtwatershed.com.

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