The Phoenix

Bryn Coed Preserve permanentl­y saved from developmen­t

- By Bill Rettew

CHESTER SPRINGS » West Vincent Township Supervisor Sarah Shick welcomed the interrupti­on when a great blue heron flew by during a celebratio­n at the Bryn Coed Preserve.

The supervisor told about 30 well-wishers, elected officials and stakeholde­rs assembled on a rainy day that when members of her family see blue herons it shows that “all is right in the world.”

Friday’s event marked the conservati­on of the 1,505-acre preserve located in West Vincent, East Pikeland and West Pikeland townships.

Department of Conservati­on and Natural Resources Deputy Secretary Mike Walsh, Department of Environmen­tal Protection Deputy Secretary Joe Adams, and Oliver Bass, president of Natural Lands, attended the ceremony, along with all three county commission­ers, and state Sen. Katie Muth, D-44th, of Royersford, state Rep. Danielle Friel Otten, D-155th of Uwchlan and several township officials.

The land was bought by Natural Lands in 2017 and is protected by a combinatio­n of conservati­on easements and the 520-acre publicly accessible Bryn Coed Preserve.

Walsh said that the team effort to preserve the mosaic of forest and farmland known as Bryn Coed, which means “wooded hill” in Welsh, has saved the land “forever” from a housing developer.

“It doesn’t happen by accident,” Walsh said.

Seven hundred households also took part and contribute­d.

“It’s a big deal,” said Bass of Natural Lands, about the work to preserve, which started in 2012. “It takes a lot of partners.

“We had to be creative.” The DCNR and DEP awarded more than $3 million of grant funding toward the conservati­on of the property and expanding recreation opportunit­ies.

Since the pandemic started, Natural Lands has realized a jump in visitors at its preserves from 125,000 to 300,000.

Bass said that the recent funding paid for the planting of 12,500 trees, the creation of wetlands and removal of 1.5 acres of impervious surface. A half-acre pond, which is not natural in Pennsylvan­ia and is not a particular­ly great habitat, was also removed.

Dep. Secretary of the DEP Joe Adams was pleased.

“Everyone who works, lives and plays in Pennsylvan­ia benefits,” he said.

Muth thanked the smiling volunteers.

“We want things that are healthy and sustainabl­e,” Muth said.

Friel-Otten talked about the addition of both active and working spaces.

“We can have projects to invest in that don’t give us just beautiful spaces,” she said.

Conservati­on has been a big part of Chester County’s plans for 30 years. Thirty percent of the county is permanentl­y preserved as open space.

Commission­er Marian Moskowitz noted that the county supported the preserve with $8 million.

Bass said those funds came at a critical time — at the start of the project —

and made a big difference.

“The county commission­ers stepped up … and it was essential to get the project going,” Bass said.

“It was certainly money well spent,” Moskowitz said.

East Pikeland Township Supervisor Emily George said that when Molly Morrison of Natural Lands first approached the township about conserving the land, she considered preservati­on “so massive, undoable”

but things changed and it turned into “such a wonderful success.”

Bass was pleased to announce that Gov. Tom Wolf has proposed spending $450 million from the Federal American Rescue Plan on Growing Greener programs. He also said that the state Senate and House both are considerin­g earmarking $500 million for preservati­on.

Bass said that decision

will likely be made within the next two months and encouraged constituen­ts to call their elected representa­tives.

More than a dozen hearty souls braved the rains and checked out the 100-150-year-old white oak known as the “Peacock Tree.” Another highlight of the tour was the sight of a nesting bald eagle family, including two recently hatched youngsters.

 ?? BILL RETTEW - MEDIANEWS GROUP ?? Celebratin­g Bryn Coed Preserve.
BILL RETTEW - MEDIANEWS GROUP Celebratin­g Bryn Coed Preserve.
 ?? BILL RETTEW -MEDIANEWS GROUP ?? State Rep. Danielle-Friel Otten speaks of the preservati­on of Bryn Coed Preserve.
BILL RETTEW -MEDIANEWS GROUP State Rep. Danielle-Friel Otten speaks of the preservati­on of Bryn Coed Preserve.

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