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Chester County Press

Public Nature Preserve envisioned along Octoraro Creek

01/19/2021 01:26PM ● By Steven Hoffman

The Brandywine Conservancy & Museum of Art has partnered with the Oxford Area Foundation to acquire 577 acres of the Glenroy Farm situated along the Octoraro Creek. This land will be owned and managed by the Oxford Area Foundation for use as a publicly accessible nature preserve.

The announcement of the acquisition was made on Jan. 11.

“This is an outstanding achievement for the Brandywine Conservancy, working in partnership with the Oxford Area Foundation, and state and local government,” said Ellen Ferretti, the director of the Brandywine Conservancy. “The acreage and diversity of resources made this property a high priority of permanent protection in southeastern Pennsylvania.”    

The property for the public nature preserve was acquired from the Thouron family, and the acquisition was made possible by grants from the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, the Chester County Preservation Partnership Program, the Oxford Area Foundation and the Brandywine Conservancy.   

The property is situated along the east side of Octoraro Creek in Lower Oxford Township and West Nottingham Township. The land consists of open meadows, arable cropland, mature and successional woodlands, numerous streams and ponds, floodplains and wetlands, and five miles of trails. The agreement also includes an access easement area comprising of 16 acres to an adjacent, nearly three-mile long strip of land situated at the top of the east bank of the Octoraro Creek and extending to the centerline of the creek. 

Ferretti said, “The transition of the Glenroy Farm property from the Thouron family to a public preserve will create a unique, contiguous area of public open space that will provide exceptional recreational and educational opportunities for the community and will have lasting effects on the water quality of the Chesapeake Bay—a national priority for conservation. It has been a wonderful experience to work with the Foundation and the Thouron family to conserve this beloved land, in perpetuity, for the public good.”

For over 50 years, four generations of the Thouron family have been the owners and stewards of Glenroy Farm.

Rachel Nicoll, a Thouron family member, said, “The Thouron family is delighted that now, with the help of the Brandywine Conservancy, this deeply treasured property, of great natural beauty, will be conserved in perpetuity. It is the family’s hope that this land will be valued and enjoyed by the community for generations to come.”

Nancy Ware Sapp, the president of the Oxford Area Foundation, said that acquiring this property is part of the vision of the foundation to enrich the community.

“We are thrilled that we now hold this amazing property and that we will be able to provide this region with such an important public space to enjoy,” she said. “In the coming months, OAF will be working on trails and a parking area, and we hope to have the property open for passive recreation by late spring to early summer.”

The Oxford Foundation was founded in 1947 by Marian S. and John H. Ware, III.  In 2004, The Oxford Foundation was divided into four separate Ware Family Foundations.  It was then that John H. Ware, IV created the Oxford Area Foundation. A longtime member of Oxford Borough Council, John Ware, IV was a very active member in the Oxford community, and he loved the town and saw its potential. He served as president of the Foundation until 2012.  At that time, John's daughter, Nancy Ware Sapp, was elected president and she has embraced her father's dream of improving the community of Oxford for all who live and visit.

The Brandywine Conservancy, meanwhile, currently holds over 485 conservation and agricultural easements and has facilitated the permanent preservation of more than 66,000 acres of land. The Conservancy protects water, conserves land, and engages communities through a multi-faceted approach to conservation. Staff work with private landowners who wish to see their lands protected forever and provide innovative community planning services to municipalities and other governmental agencies.

Land preservation efforts are bolstered by combining state, county, and local resources, and that was certainly the case in this instance.

Cindy Adams Dunn, the secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) talked about the importance of preserving the property.

“DCNR is pleased to partner with the Brandywine Conservancy, Chester County and the Oxford Area Foundation to support the preservation of this regionally important property that will provide a unique, contiguous area of public open space, and offer exceptional regional recreational opportunities for residents of both Chester County and Lancaster County,” she said.

Chester County also provided funding for the project and the county commissioners— Marian Moskowitz, Josh Maxwell and Michelle Kichline—praised the acquisition.  

“This property will safeguard wildlife habitat, provide new recreation opportunities and protect the waters of Pennsylvania and the Chesapeake Bay,” they said in a statement. “Projects like Glenroy Farm, that maintain beautiful areas to be enjoyed by residents and visitors, illustrate the thoughtful, planned approach that Chester County takes to preserving land. For over 30 years, Chester County has been following that plan, which is why our preservation efforts are smart, why they encourage partnerships with conservancies, the Commonwealth, municipalities and other organizations, and why the County’s ‘quality of place’ is so attractive to businesses that want to be located here, and people who want to live here.”