ABOUT HAYS WOODS
Hays Woods encompasses 660 acres of undeveloped forest, valleys, and streams along the southeast end of Pittsburgh and across the Mon from Hazelwood and is now home to the largest new urban park project undertaken east of the Mississippi River in 75 years.
The Urban Redevelopment Authority realized the vision when it purchased the land in 2016 and transferred 626 acres to the city for park development. The property transfer was completed on Tuesday, June 20th, 2023, and the City of Pittsburgh officially owned Hays Woods Park.
The transfer culminates years of work by community members and city officials to protect Hays Woods from proposed developments under the previous owners. The Friends of Hays Woods group was formed by concerned citizens who became integral to preserving the urban forest and preventing further habitat fragmentation. The land had already been degraded ecologically from decades of coal mining, with different land use changes and disturbances having introduced a pandora’s box of invasive plant species that continue to threaten native communities and habitats and cause areas of ecosystem collapse. Acid mine drainage and erosion are also prevalent throughout the site. Utility lines and old roads create a unique combination of interior woods and meadow habitat. The elevation is rarely flat, a microcosm of Pittsburgh’s geography. The previous owner, Pittsburgh Development Group II, also had plans to strip-mine the site. Without community advocacy and public support, Hays Woods would not exist today. Despite its poor ecological health, anyone who visits the park can understand the natural wonder of this land, from its views of downtown and Hazelwood to the 30-year pair of nesting bald eagles and so many treasures in between.
Efforts to improve the ecological health of Hays Woods Park are generously supported by the Richard King Mellon Foundation and Pennsylvania American Water.