Land Conservancy celebration will be a real hootenanny
● By Richard Gaw
By Richard L. Gaw, Staff Writer
Nearly from the day it was founded, The Land Conservancy for Southern Chester County has been one of the area's primary stewards of the land, and it has been their mission to not only preserve land but to maintain its pristine quiet.
Which, given the nature of the celebration it will be hosting next month to honor its 20th year, is ironic. Their party will be anything but quiet.
To celebrate its anniversary, TLC will be hosting its fourth annual "Hootenanny Hoedown" on Sept. 12 at The Ruins on the grounds of the Pennsylvania Hunt Cup course on Newark Road in Kennett Square. The event will feature food, drinks, and a chance for revelers to show off their cowboy hats and fringed boots -- as well as dance with a few Roaring Twenties flappers -- to the sounds of DJ Frosty.
The festivities will also include a makeshift saloon and the appearance of a jail marshal. There will be a silent and live auction featuring chances to bid on vacation properties in North Carolina, Puerto Rico and Lewes. All proceeds from the event will benefit TLC land conservation efforts in southern Chester County.
It's a good reason to celebrate. In 1995, TLC was incorporated as a non-profit organization, and it was operated by volunteers until 2004, when it hired one employee. Since 2008, the organization has grown to eight full-time employees and is now responsible for acquiring its own funding.
As an advocacy group, the key mission of TLC is to initiate land conservation, historic preservation, land stewardship and education. In the last few years, the group has secured the land management of four local nature preserves; partnered with the state to train Pennsylvania master naturalists for the third consecutive year; expanded its local outreach with additional environmental education programs; conducted nearly 100 programs and events; and drawn more than 3,000 participants to TLC activities.
For the past decade, The Land Conservancy fought to preserve the historic Chandler Mill Bidge as a pedestrian-only structure that would provide an important piece of the expanding Red Clay Greenway Trail, a connecting link of natural walkways that it helped establish.
Through the generosity of a local landowner, 45 acres of private conservation lands on the family's property adjacent to the historic Bucktoe Cemetery will be donated to form the Chandler Mill Nature Preserve. The gift will also include perimeter trail easements along Chandler Mill and Bucktoe roads, and links to the Red Clay Greenway. Through TLC, the township will also receive a $100,000 endowment for the continued maintenance of the pedestrian bridge. TLC will also purchase Walnut Hill, a historic inn at the base of the bridge, which now serves as the group's headquarters.
Perhaps the biggest task the TLC is working on is the future development of the Route 1 corridor.
TLC is adhering to Landscapes 2, Chester County's comprehensive policy plan, which establishes long-term growth management and preservation strategies to guide municipalities, developers, preservationists, and others in making decisions that promote sustainable practices throughout the county -- including the corridor. Adopted by the Chester County Commissioners in 2009, it provides the concept of "livable landscapes" for resource protection and growth strategies.
"Our plan is to help with in-fill and the redevelopment of our boroughs, rather than sell off farmland," said TLC executive director Gwen Lacy. "We're trying to keep everybody on the path of 'Lets not go into these farms with the idea of development.' There's going to be growth, but Chester County has 18-wheelers riding on its back roads. We've got to create strategic planning that complements the rural nature of the the county."
The Stone Barn is at 100 Stone Barn Road, Kennett Square. The entrance to The Ruins is an eighth of a mile east of The Stone Barn on Upland Road (Route 842). For more information about the event, visit http://tlcforscc.org/hootenanny
To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.