Hays Woods is a 635+ acre woodland on a hilltop overlooking the Monongahela River. This is the largest undeveloped tract of land in the City of Pittsburgh. The site contains more than 250 acres of mature interior hardwood forest patches, which support diverse communities of plants, birds and wildlife. Hays Woods has served as a de-facto recreational green space for the residents of the surrounding communities for more than 40 years. The forest is privately owned by Pittsburgh Development Group II who propose to develop Hays Woods as a horse-race track, retail and residential complex. Prior to construction, the forest will be logged and the underlying coal seams will be removed using mountaintop removal coal mining methods. To level the site for development, the overburden from the mining will be used to fill in 3 wetlands and 5 of the six streams.
Is destruction of the forest the best use of Pittsburgh’s valuable asset, Hays Woods? Once the forest is logged, strip mined and developed it will be lost forever.
Tom and Connie Merriman, Artists: Saving Hays Woods
Audio File From Summer of 2007
An inquiry into the role of woodlands as community and cultural assets, led by project directors Constance and Thomas Merriman. They’ve identified an extensive matrix of greenspace within the Pittsburgh region’s urban environment. Because of the regional topography of mountainous plateaus with rivers and floodplains in valleys with steep hillsides, undeveloped strips and patches of woodland are woven into the built environment, resulting in a much higher than average percentage of forested urban space. The Merrimans will demonstrate, through visual representations, how this system functions and increase people’s understanding and appreciation for the value of these urban ecosystems. The citizens of this urban forest community are people, plants, animals, birds, and other living creatures. They will produce visual artifacts in collaboration with these residents and users, and present the outcomes of this experience to the public. The presentation of these visual artifacts will act as a catalyst for dialog on the topic of the value of urban ecological systems. Developing a deeper understanding of how Pittsburgh’s forest network functions and provides habitat for all the region’s residents can lead to models that could be applied in other urban areas.
If Animals and Children Could Talk: Community Forest Project Podcast
The Bridge Project is a collaboration among students at CAPA High School and the University of Pittsburgh; the Mattress Factory; artists Constance Merriman, JoAnna Commandaros, Karen Page and David Pohl; and residents of Pittsburgh’s urban community and Greenspaces. Under the guidance of artists and with the resources of the Mattress Factory, young people will create individual and collaborative works of public art that bridge and connect Greenspaces with Brownfield or industrial sites, providing corridors of movement and interaction among people plants and animals. Working within the structure of high school and college art classes, as well as the Mattress Factory’s teen program, a group of 15 high school students under CAPA teacher Karen Page will be matched with 15 Pitt students in JoAnna Commandaros Eco Art class. This interdisciplinary project includes study, observation, documentation, discussion, implementation and celebration.