Monday, July 27, 2020

Natural Lands Permanently Protects Farm That’s Home To 400-Year-Old Penn Oak In Chester County

On July 27,
Natural Lands announced the preservation of Great Oak Farm, a 10-acre property in North Coventry Township, Chester County.
The property includes meadows and forest, and about 640 feet of Pigeon Creek. The property was named for its magnificent white oak that predates European colonization. Now protected with a conservation easement, the farm will never be developed. 

“When we purchased the Great Oak Farm in 2018, my husband and I knew we had come across something very special, so when we were approached with the idea of a conservation easement we jumped at the opportunity,” said property owner Jessica Neff-Boyd. “After buying the property, we learned about the connections of this land to the Lenape Native American Tribe, how the original deed was held by the Penn family, and all about the oak tree.” 

Added Sean Boyd, “I hope that conserving our property with Natural Lands will further both historical and open space local preservation efforts. Perhaps the biggest benefit of all will be spreading the importance of conserving these natural areas so that our children and their children will be able to enjoy them.”

Great Oak Farm offers scenic views to travelers along Saint Peters Road as well as visitors hiking the nearby trails at Coventry Woods Park, a 702-acre township-owned property immediately adjacent to the farm. 

The property includes 640 feet of tributaries to Pigeon Creek, designated by the Department of Environmental Protection as a high-quality stream for its cold, clear water. Pigeon Creek is a tributary to the Schuylkill River, which flows to the Delaware River. 

The Delaware River watershed provides drinking water to 17 million people; protecting land along the watersheds streams is critically important since forested stream edges filter pollutants and reduce runoff. 

“Every successful conservation project starts with property owners that make a choice to preserve their land,” said Natural Lands President Oliver Bass. “We are grateful to the Boyd family for making this choice. The conservation easement on Great Oak Farm will ensure this 10-acre property, which connects to a larger network of open space in the region, will remain natural, beautiful, and ecologically beneficial forever.”

A stand-out natural feature of the property is the magnificent white oak tree for which the farm was named. 

In 1932, during the 250th anniversary of Pennsylvania’s founding, a Philadelphia science teacher set out to identify and document surviving “Penn’s trees,” specimens that were alive when the colony was occupied by European settlers. 

In 1977, the Penn Tree Committee updated the list, identifying 130 trees they believed were at least 300 years old. 

The white oak tree on the Boyd’s property is one such survivor, now among only 100 believed to remain.

Funding to purchase the conservation easement was provided by Chester County’s Northern Conservation Initiative Program and North Coventry Township.

“On behalf of North Coventry Township, I am very grateful to Sean and Jessica Boyd and their extended family for the conservation of this iconic property,” said Chris Washburn, chairperson of North Coventry Township’s Open Space Review Board. “The property includes the historic William Penn white oak tree, which is the only registered tree in our township and is one of the few remaining trees in Pennsylvania known to exist when William Penn arrived in America in 1682. This tree is now part of our township’s official logo.”

Chester County Commissioners Marian Moskowitz, Josh Maxwell, and Michelle Kichline said, “Great Oak Farm is exactly the type of property that our Northern Conservation Initiative was designed to support, and we are pleased to be part of this important preservation partnership. We thank Sean and Jessica Boyd for their incredible commitment to preserving lands that have such great environmental and historical value, which contribute to Chester County’s ‘quality of place’.”

For more information on programs, initiatives and upcoming events, visit the Natural Lands website.  Click Here to sign up for regular updates from Natural Lands and Like them on FacebookClick Here to support their activities.

[Posted: July 27, 2020]  PA Environment Digest

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