Tuesday, June 11, 2024

Natural Lands Preserves 95 Acres Of Forest, Waterways, Historical Farm In Chester County

On June 10,
Natural Lands announced the preservation of a 95-acre forested landscape in East Nantmeal Township, Chester County. 

A conservation easement allows the property to stay in private ownership and will ensure the scenic vistas, rolling terrain, wetlands, streams, and woodlands all remain forever.  

The Keen property represents the last, largest remaining unprotected woodland tract surrounding the historical Village of Nantmeal. 

The dense forest provides essential habitat for songbirds and other wildlife and helps to filter rainwater before it flows into the 4,000 feet of Beaver Run Creek that meanders through the property. 

Classified by the Department of Environmental Protection as “Exceptional Value,” the creek drains into French Creek, then Schuylkill River, and eventually Delaware River. 

“The property abuts the two other large properties already under conservation easement with Natural Lands, and it’s only about three miles from our 712-acre Crow’s Nest Preserve,” said Jack Stefferud, senior director of land protection for Natural Lands. “Being able to stitch together a large swath of protected lands, one project at a time, is incredibly rewarding. Contiguous open parcels mean migratory pathways for wildlife, more carbon storage and climate cooling services, and cleaner air and water for us all.”

The Keen property lies within the Supporting Landscapes of five different Natural Heritage Areas, including: Schuylkill River – Port Providence, Hopewell Lake, Horseshoe Trail, South Branch French Creek, and Great Marsh. The farm’s buildings—including the 1740 stone farmhouse and 1820 bank barn—contribute to the Nantmeal Village Historic District as listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

“This property has been in the Keen Family since 1910, and four generations have lived on the farm,” said landowner Lane Keen. “It is our desire to preserve the farmland, wetlands, and forest in their natural state. We hope future generations will enjoy its natural beauty.”

The project also includes a trail easement that will be held by East Nantmeal Township. This will allow for future public access for hiking, walking, bicycling, or horseback riding along Fairview Road.

“The preservation of the Keen parcel is another important step in the nearly 50 years of pioneering conservation efforts by our township, bringing the total conserved land in East Nantmeal to more than 60 percent of our total 10,000 acres,” noted East Nantmeal Township Supervisors Dave Frame and Tyler Wren in a joint statement. 

East Nantmeal provided financial support for this project, utilizing monies from its open space fund, generated through a dedicated quarter point income tax voted by its citizens more than 20 years ago.

Additional support came from the Virginia Cretella Mars Foundation and the Conservancy Grant Program, Commissioners of Chester County, Pennsylvania.

Chester County Commissioners Josh Maxwell, Marian Moskowitz, and Eric Roe said, “Adding another 94-plus acres of preserved land in this fast developing part of Chester County is a real bonus, because not only does it protect an area of great farming history, it also sits next to the Agular property that was preserved last year, extending the amazing high-quality woodlands and Beaver Run Creek. Partnerships like this with Natural Lands and East Nantmeal Township are an example of the strength of our county’s open space preservation program— protecting irreplaceable natural and historical sites.”

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.

Natural Lands has preserved more than 125,000 acres, including 42 nature preserves and one public garden totaling more than 23,000 acres.

[Posted: June 11, 2024]  PA Environment Digest

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