Land conservancy reaches funding milestone
By Richard Gaw
Photos by Richard L. Gaw Through public and private donations totaling $700,000, the Land Conservancy for Southern Chester County will be able to fund the development of The Chandler Mill Nature Preserve and Interpretive Nature Center, scheduled to be completed in 2017.
Over the past few years, the Land Conservancy for Southern Chester County (TLC) has been the recipient of some very good news, seen in the form of acquisitions and initiatives that have added acres of preserved land, seen the purchase of an historic bridge that is scheduled to be preserved, and the acquisition of a new home.
Last week, they received even more.
Through an accumulation of public and private donations totaling $700,000, the TLC's Chandler Mill Nature Preserve and Interpretive Nature Center – both currently in the engineering and planning phase – are now fully funded and are anticipated to open to the public in 2017.
In addition to individual donations, the TLC received grants from the Welfare Foundation, the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, the Starrett Foundation, the Fair Play Foundation, Crystal Trust, the E. Kneale Dockstader Foundation, the Marjorie L. and Arthur P. Miller Fund and the KEEN Effect.
"This is a great example of the courage and vision exemplified by everyone who came together in this public-private partnership, in order to protect the irreplaceable for the entire community, to enjoy long after we are all gone," said TLC executive director Gwen Lacy. "These two initiatives form a microcosm of our work, and it reaches all of the tenets of the TLC: land conservation, historic preservation, environmental education and the stewardship of land conservation."
"This will be, in a sense, a demonstration site of the work that we do," she said. "People will be able to come and see those practices, and hopefully, be able to take those practices home."
These projects are linked to the TLC's commitment to save and preserve the Chandler Mill Bridge, which led to its 2015 acquisition of the bridge by Kennett Township; and the acquisition of the former Walnut Hill bed and breakfast as its headquarters.
The Chandler Mill Nature Preserve, located across the street from TLC's offices and near the Chandler Mill Bridge, is part of the largest contiguously conserved area in Kennett Township, with 500 acres of open space that contains some of the most biodiverse natural habitat in the region. Now open to the public, part of the funding will go toward the development of perimeter trails and the re-routing of additional trails; the continuation of riparian plantings in the Preserve and the installation of rain gardens and pollinator gardens; and the construction of permeable parking areas, which will help prevent flooding runoff and erosion.
The Interpretive Nature Center, when completed, will serve as the educational centerpiece of the TLC. Located at the TLC's headquarters, the center will include educational displays, maps, checklists and field guides -- all to educate the community about habitats on the preserve and the importance of land and water conservation.
While the nature preserve and center await final design and construction, Lacy said that work has already begun.
"We have been able to get topographic surveys done for all properties in the area, a wetlands inventory, and an historic resources inventory completed," she said. "The area is rife with history, so we wanted to make sure all of that was documented."
The TLC is offering several nature programs throughout the summer, including a "Full Moon Owl Prowl" on July 22; a "Mysterious Moths" exploration on Aug. 5; and a "Common Nighthawk Watch" from Aug. 23-Sept. 3. For more information, contact the TLC education coordinator at 610-347-0347, ext. 104.
To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org .