Land Matters 2019

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SECTION HEADING??

WINTER 2019|2020

INSIDE

Thomas P. Bentley Nature Preserve

Grand Opening


BOARD OF DIRECTORS Penny Hunt PRESIDENT

David E. Resnik VICE PRESIDENT AND TREASURER

Shaun Mannix VICE PRESIDENT

Jennifer Trachtman SECRETARY

Nancy Bartley Therese Bentley Robert R. Berry Paul Black Donna L. Brennan Ann Cathers Ann Dyer, RN L. Stockton Illoway Gwen Kelly Klein Cary F. Leptuck James Moore John Nash Kirk Reinhold, Ph.D. Mark Willcox, III Robert C. F. Willson, Esq.

4 Grand Opening

Thomas P. Bentley Nature Preserve

Contents 3 Money

16 Conservation

Matters

Initiatives

6 New Board

19 In Your

Member & Staff

STAFF Bill Gladden

9 Program

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

Backyard

20 Hopewell Big

News

Pam Brown

Woods Partnership

CONSERVATION DIRECTOR

10 Volunteer

Helen Schaeffer FINANCIAL MANAGER

22 French Creek

Spotlight

Fred Gender PRESERVE MANAGER

13 Education

Kersten Appler SPECIAL PROJECTS COORDINATOR

Iron Tour

23 Remembering

Initiatives

Donna Delany STEWARDSHIP ADVISOR

14 Landowner

Nancy Long

Eleanor Morris Illoway

24 Event

Spotlights

STEWARDSHIP COORDINATOR

Highlights

Maureen Farley COMMUNICATIONS COORDINATOR

Our Mission is to preserve, steward, and connect people to the land in northern Chester County. SECTION HEAD ING??

FRENCH & PICKERING CREEKS CONSERVATION TRUST 511 Kimberton Road Phoenixville, PA 19460 610.933.7577 EMAIL office@frenchandpickering.org frenchandpickering.org

LAND MATTERS

WINTER 2019|2 020

CONTRIBUTORS PAM BROWN, FRED GENDER, MAUREEN FARLEY, DONNA DELANY, DONALD PELL, KERSTEN APPLER, JEN TRACHTMAN DESIGN

MELODEE DILL STEPHENS

COVER ART

DEBORAH KUHN

CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS

JIM MOFFETT, RAY SLAVINSKI, AM BROWN P

INSIDE

Thomas P. Bentl

ey Nature Preserve Grand Openi ng


LETTER FROM OUR EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

We’re here for you. Because of you.

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hanks to generous support, dedication and commitment from landowners, Board members and volunteers, and collaboration with local, regional and national partners, there is a lot to share in the pages that follow. The grand opening in September of French & Pickering Creeks Conservation Trust’s Thomas P. Bentley Nature Preserve was one of many highlights. Built on a foundation of generosity, hard work and volunteers, the grand opening was a very special day we were thrilled to share with the community. Some comments that capture the essence of the day: “ Beautiful afternoon. Can’t wait to come back this week.” “We enjoyed the opening events. Friendly people and beautiful landscapes.” Preserve manager Fred Gender has the site open for public visitors and lives onsite at the preserve manager’s cottage. We hope you get to know Fred at programs, volunteer days and special events throughout the year. With years of experience as a preserve manager, Fred is eager to welcome visitors and volunteers. Other 2019 highlights include collaborating with partner organizations, landowners and public and private supporters. We remain dedicated to protecting a resilient environment that can withstand increasing pressures from development and climate change. With over a dozen active projects in the pipeline, water quality preservation through land protection continues to be the cornerstone of our efforts along with stewardship, outreach and programs. French & Pickering also has assumed the role of Hopewell Big Woods Coordinator from Natural Lands and we continue to fully engage in the William Penn Foundation’s Delaware River Watershed Initiative. In addition to preservation, programs and partnerships, we are working hard to reestablish our land preservation fund. This fund was a critical source of financing when we needed to act decisively to preserve over 550 acres along the South Branch of French Creek; including the Thomas P. Bentley Nature Preserve. We are almost halfway to our $1.5 million goal. With your support, we will re-establish a healthy land preservation fund that will provide a firm foundation for future conservation. I would like to end where I started – with a comment from a local resident who attended our grand opening, which is that we are:

Bill Gladden, Executive Director

With over a dozen active projects in the pipeline, water quality preservation through land protection continues to be the cornerstone of our efforts along with stewardship, outreach and programs.

“ So fortunate to have citizens who are interested in preserving the special places. Thank you so very much.” Northern Chester County would not be the same without French & Pickering and we would not be here if it weren’t for you. Thank you,

Bill Gladden Executive Director

French & Pickering Creeks Conservation Trust

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LETTER FROM OUR BOARD PRESIDENT

New Programs Connect the Community with the Land and Environment

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ust about everybody knows that French & Pickering Creeks Conservation Trust has been hard at work for 52 years saving open land and protecting our waterways here in northern Chester County. This is over a half century of not only putting land under conservation easements but also making hundreds of thousands of people in our area aware of how important it is to have open land and consequently, safe water. Protecting our land so that it stays preserved to grow trees and Penny Hunt, Board President crops and send clean water to our creeks, provide habitat for birds, bees and all forms of wildlife, as well as refuge for all of us to reflect on nature, history and culture, have been organizational priorities from the beginning of French & Pickering’s existence. Today, that need is greater than ever. We are experiencing climate change that affects us all. Our farmers are challenged; our creeks and rivers are challenged. Our crops, our food, our storms, our temperatures, our seasonal life are all facing changes that will require our participation. French & Pickering is right there for the community. Our Facebook page is the most responded to and followed for nature reports and invasive plants and insect information. Our website and social media networks are inviting everyone to learn more, participate in informative lectures and experience the best of nature through hikes, birdwatching and skill building events. We report what is going on in our area that reflects the greater world challenges and we bring in experts who can explain what is happening, where it will lead and how we can help. From top level information on Spotted Lantern Flies, stink bugs, invasive vines and fish, to planting wild flower meadows rather than mowing grass, to the restoration of native eels in our Pickering Creek to our involvement with the William Penn Foundation to better understand our waterways and their process of cleaning the water; these are only a few examples of the excellent work that French & Pickering is doing to keep northern Chester County out front, prepared for challenges and continuing to “Save open land, protect our water and enjoy nature.” So, think locally! Buy our farmers’ goods, walk our trails, care about our environment. Northern Chester County, you are us and we (French & Pickering Creeks Conservation Trust) are you. Let’s continue to make our world a wonderful place for happy families, healthy children, productive and engaged people.

Penny Hunt President of the Board of Directors 2

Land Matters Winter 2019 | 2020

ABOUT PENNY HUNT Penny and her husband, John Hunt, moved to their farm in Chester County about 30 years ago. This move started a new chapter in Penny’s life centered around land conservation, agriculture, gardens and the exciting biodiversity of northern Chester County. Soon after they arrived, Penny was invited to meet French & Pickering co-founder Eleanor Morris and has been involved with French & Pickering ever since, serving on the board for a number of years. Penny is interested in protecting local biodiversity and waterways, and living sustainably. “Always a historian at heart,” she says, “I’m thrilled with our new Thomas P. Bentley Nature Preserve, home to the ruins of the 18th century Warwick Furnace. You can expect to be invited to wonderfully interesting events, including evening lectures on the third Thursday of the month and to fun and instructional experiences on our Second Sunday Hikes. My motto is, “Save open land, protect water and enjoy nature.” I look forward to getting to know all of you who share the passion of protecting the environment.”

THANK YOU TO BOB WILLSON Immediate Past President Bob Willson would deny the accolades, but he truly deserves the thanks of the Staff, Board and all of French & Pickering’s supporters and friends for all he’s done since elected as Board President in 2017. While it’s always a busy time at French & Pickering, Bob successfully led the search for a successor to retiring Executive Director Andy Pitz, concluding with the hiring and smooth transition to Bill Gladden. Additionally, Bob spearheaded the planning and execution of the first phase of the Thomas P. Bentley Nature Preserve and the stabilization of the important ruins of the Warwick Furnace. Well done, Bob and thanks for all your passion and leadership!


MONEY MATTERS

SEEING THE GREEN FOR YOUR GREEN

Your Conservation Tax Dollars at Work

BY PAM BROWN, CONSERVATION DIRECTOR

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his year marked the 30th anniversary of the first Open Space Bond Initiative in Chester County. Since 1989, the County has invested $156 million to fund the acquisition of agricultural and conservation easements and land for public recreation, much of it through grant awards. This investment has allowed conservation organizations to leverage those dollars to secure additional funding from state and federal agencies, as well as private foundations, including the William Penn Foundation. To date, 35 municipalities in Chester County have voted to impose a dedicated tax or passed a bond referendum for open space preservation, with residents overwhelmingly supporting these measures. These partnerships have resulted in 29 percent of the County being permanently preserved. The Chester County Planning Commission, in collaboration with the Delaware Valley Regional Planning

Commission and numerous conservation and environmental organizations, engaged EConsult Solutions, Inc. to produce an updated study of the economic impact of protected land in Chester County. The result, Return on Environment; The Economic Value of Protected Open Space in Chester County, Pennsylvania, shows tangible quantitative results of the investment of dedicated tax funds on real estate values, as well as environmental and health benefits. In addition to decreasing the demand for services that development brings, open space contributes to a healthier environment by providing natural pollutant filtration systems through conserved forests and fields. Our Exceptional Value and High Quality waterways are afforded protection by reducing the amount of impervious coverage brought by high density growth. The American Lung Association gave Chester an “A” rating for air quality in

Return on Environment; The Economic Value of Protected Open Space in Chester County, Pennsylvania

2019. Health care costs are reduced by millions of dollars through free recreational opportunities offered in parks and on trails. Investing in open space is a quality of life investment. Not only does it result in the scenic beauty of Chester County; it is a lasting legacy for the well-being of our future generations. The Return on Environment full report can be found on French & Pickering’s website at frenchandpickering.org

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PRESERVE UPDATE

Thomas P. Bentley NATURE PRESERVE

Grand Opening BY FRED GENDER, PRESERVE MANAGER

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n September 14, Ray Bentley, son of Thomas P. Bentley, cut the ribbon signifying the official public opening of the French & Pickering Creeks Conservation Trust’s Thomas P. Bentley Nature Preserve, spanning both Warwick and East Nantmeal Townships. The 108-acre Bentley Preserve provides the visitor a unique experience that blends cultural and natural resources. It borders the restored ruins of the Warwick Furnace, visible from the parking area and information kiosk. The Bentley Preserve includes a mile-long trail through meadows and a revitalized forest. This special place is the result of special people – family, neighbors, volunteers, Board members and staff, whose vision and passion for land protection were the seeds from which this nature preserve has grown. We celebrate an opening that for many of us is the conclusion of a great amount of effort, and a moment of congratulations is in order. But we are in the forever business so our work has just begun. Future generations will care for this land with the conservation practices of the day. You are invited to walk the trails, smell the season’s fragrances, feel the sun on your face and allow this place to become part of you as it has been for others in the past. There is much to do in land protection, management and maintenance. We need your help and that of future stewards, so bring your children and grandchildren out to the Preserve to have the seeds of nature planted in their hearts.

From left: Bill Gladden, Bob Willson, Ray Bentley, Penny Hunt, and Cary Leptuck

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Land Matters Winter 2019 | 2020


“ Great job on the opening; nice people, lovely scenery and local history.”

Welcoming the community to the Grand Opening 18th Century Furnace Ruins

French & Pickering Creeks Conservation Trust

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WELCOMING NEW BOARD MEMBER & STAFF

French & Pickering Welcomes New Board Member and Staff beautiful and knowing that it will be so forever, especially considering where some of our neighboring townships are headed.” Paul loves to spend time with his wife Cynthia, and his three adult children. In 2017, Paul Black and his neighbors, the Casciatos and Taylors, protected 100 acres slated for high-density development, and more recently a 53-acre property similarly threatened. Both are under easement with French & Pickering. Paul’s home property is under easement with Natural Lands.

Paul Black

Fred Gender

BOARD MEMBER Paul Black is a seasoned executive who works with business owners to help maximize the value of their firms. He developed his expertise over a 30-year career transforming a small family business in light manufacturing into the largest award-winning “best-of-breed” IT Value Added Reseller in the Mid-Atlantic. Over the course of his career, he developed expertise in creating incentive-based compensation plans to drive employee behavior and created employee recruiting programs that attracted qualified applicants in competitive market conditions. Paul says, “I am drawn to the outdoors for almost any reason, whether it is paddling, camping, hiking or boating. I love to work in my productive raised bed vegetable garden, hunt, fly fish and I horseback ride with my wife and create trails to do so on our farm through the woods and fields. I love land and have always been pro-preservation. I don’t really recall deciding to be pro-preservation, it just always seemed like the right thing to do. I love living in an area that is so 6

Land Matters Winter 2019 | 2020

outdoors. Maureen lives in Philadelphia and continues to volunteer in her neighborhood community garden. She is an avid rock climber and hiker and loves learning about environmental protection through this organization.

PRESERVE MANAGER

Maureen Farley COMMUNICATIONS COORDINATOR Maureen Farley joined the staff in July. She earned her B.A. in Communications Studies and Journalism from West Chester University and went on to write and produce news stories for KYW Newsradio in Philadelphia. During her time at West Chester University, she volunteered as the community garden manager and worked on organic farms all over the country where she fell in love with the

Fred Gender became French & Pickering’s Preserve Manager in June. He lives and works on the beautiful and scenic Thomas P. Bentley Nature Preserve. A graduate of West Chester University, Fred has spent most of his adult life protecting the water and land of Pennsylvania and Chester County. He has served as a Board member and officer of Trout Unlimited at both the local chapter and state level, a biological technician and wildland fire fighter with the National Park Service and a preserve manager with Natural Lands. He even spent time as “Mr. Gender,” teaching biology and environmental science to middle and high school students. His passion for the outdoors and all things natural is fueled by his love of fly fishing.

WITH MANY THANKS Tod Kehrli, Dr. Su Carroll Kenderdine, Kirk Reinbold, Ph.D. and Peter Zimmerman retired from the Board of Directors after many years of commitment and significant contributions.


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Lundale Farm is building a community of local farmers growing healthy food. We’re proud that the French & Pickering Creeks Conservation Trust has easements on all our land. Interested? Contact us about building a community at your farm. lundalefarm.org

Lundale Farm is a nonprofit organization that manages a 520-acre historic property in northern Chester County, PA.

We lease land and housing for farmers committed to growing wholesome foods, using organic methods that enhance the health of the land and the community.

In 2019, we lease space to eight independent farm businesses, including four resident farm families.

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PROGRAM NEWS

THIRD THURSDAY TALKS In partnership with Historic Yellow Springs, French & Pickering Creeks Conservation Trust’s Program Committee launched a new monthly event this year; Third Thursday Talks. Community members are invited to attend free educational presentations with discussion of important and

Second Sunday Scenic Hikes

locally impactful environmental issues. French & Pickering believes that education is a crucial foundation to fostering a relationship between our community and open space in our surrounding area. In September, over 90 community members attended a presentation on the spotted lanternfly phenomenon by Dr. Heather Leach, a Penn State University Extension researcher, where the group discussed the origin of the invasive insect and Dr. Leach offered some potential control solutions.

As a part of French & Pickering’s mission to connect people to open space in Chester County, the Program Committee is organizing programs that do just that. The committee now hosts Second Sunday Scenic Hikes, each with a different theme and locale, and with varying degrees of difficulty. Hikes have included bird migration on Hawk Mountain, waterfowl migration at Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area and even yoga. Future hikes include a Tree in the Meadow Lighting at the Thomas P. Bentley Nature Preserve and a hike at Natural Lands’ Crow’s Nest Preserve.

Several of the future topics listed on frenchandpickering.org include: The History and Future of the Great Marsh in northern Chester County and Wildflower Meadows – Why mow?

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VOLUNTEER SPOTLIGHT

VOLUNTEER SPOTLIGHT

Eric Hurlock Eric Hurlock grew up in Chester County and has seen the drastic changes that the land has gone through in his lifetime. Eric learned about French & Pickering Creeks Conservation Trust when he and his wife, Heather, rented a small French & Pickering-protected farm. In 2005, he began volunteering at the French Creek Iron Tour and has served as captain of the North Coventry rest stop for the last 12 years.

Photo credit: Heather Hurlock

“ I am very passionate about farmland and keeping the agriculture alive in this area. This seemed like a great way to volunteer with an organization whose ideals aligned with mine. I have always been interested in creating awareness and raising money for F&P because the goal for me is to preserve farmland. Without help from organizations like the French & Pickering Creeks Conservation Trust, the farmland in northern Chester County would be all but gone. I am passionate about agriculture and keeping the land in production. The French Creek Iron Tour is a great way to help raise awareness towards that goal. I grew up here in Chester County and I’ve seen drastic changes over the course of my life, and I want to help preserve this place for future generations.” ERIC HURLOCK

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EDUCATION INITIATIVES

Landowner Earth Day Celebration at Lundale Farm

BY DONNA DELANY

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o celebrate Earth Day, French & Pickering hosted a gathering in honor of our conservation landowners; the people who care for our protected lands. For the first time, the event was held at Lundale Farm and it felt like a home coming – the staff, board, and landowners all coming together at our founders’ farm. Eleanor Morris Illoway gave a touching welcome speech to kick off an evening of fellowship and environmental learning. We are grateful to all those who attended and to the organizations who presented our landowners with current information on the best methods to care for land in our watersheds. We protect 6,500 acres in northern Chester County through conservation easements, so when our landowners take positive action, such as stream-side planting; deer fencing; planting and protecting native plants; and creating fish, bird and pollinator-friendly habitat, cumulatively they have a large impact on the health of our watersheds and water quality. Many thanks to the Audubon Society, Chester County Bee Keepers Assoc., Deer Fencers, Delaware Riverkeeper Network, Evoke Solar, Green Valleys, Hobo Ed’s Coffee, Jenkins Arboretum, Land Studies, Nancy Bartley Landscape Design, Natural Lands, Trout Unlimited, Why Not Farm, and Yellow Springs Farm Native Plants Nursery. The event was funded by a grant from the William Penn Foundation.

“ It was a beautiful evening – a perfect sunset – and we enjoyed learning in such a bucolic environment and our children especially enjoyed the wagon ride and the baby pigs.”

Photo credit: Jim Moffett

French & Pickering Creeks Conservation Trust

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LANDOWNER SPOTLIGHTS

The Thompson Family Farm Easement BY PAM BROWN, CONSERVATION DIRECTOR

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rench & Pickering Creeks Conservation Trust’s longstanding partnership with Charlestown Township has resulted in the protection of an additional 23 acres of open land along Union Hill Road. Adjacent to other lands under easement with French & Pickering and North American Land Trust, this easement closes a gap along a first-order tributary to the Pickering Creek and ensures the mature woodlands will stay intact. Jim Thompson’s parents bought 450 acres in 1960 and ran a dairy farm for many years. Jim and his wife, Mary Jo, decided to permanently protect their 23 acres in July, 2019. When asked what led to their decision, Mary Jo said, “Jim regularly attends Charlestown Township Supervisor meetings and learned of another property being placed under easement through the township open

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Land Matters Winter 2019 | 2020

Photo credit: Pam Brown


The township has protected nearly 38 percent of its open land through its dedicated open space funds, providing the residents with a great return on their tax dollars. space program. I thought that maybe we should really think about it for our own land. And I just said, ‘Do you think that they would be interested in our property?’ He asked Supervisor Kevin Kuhn, and then Kevin wanted to meet with us. He called Pam, and then it just went from there.” Jim added, “the more and more we thought about it. If we were going to sell our property sometime, a lot of these developers would buy our place. They would then try to spin a couple lots off, and then put a couple buildings behind it, which would spoil the whole property.” The land has tremendous sentimental value and, as Mary Jo remarked, “It is a really unique, pretty piece of property. I think if someone were to develop it, it would ruin the viewshed. You would definitely be able to see the homes on the top of the hill, going up Union Hill Road. I have lived on the property since 1976 and raised all four of my children there. They loved it too. It was a great farm, and it was just fun to be with all that ground, where they had the advantages of riding the golf carts, hunting, friends coming over, etc. I just feel that right now we’re at the right age to do this.” As we go to print, there are four other easement projects in progress in Charlestown Township.

Another Family Farm Preserved BY MAUREEN FARLEY

We are deeply grateful to mother and daughter Jane Dugdale and Karen Beam for working with French & Pickering to protect the land they love—forever! Ten acres in Charlestown Township have been preserved in perpetuity, adding to the 1,100 acres of beautiful open space in the township, under easement to French & Pickering. This new easement will protect lush, rolling fields on Buckwalter Road and will help purify the newly named “Buckwalter Run” stream corridor. Charlestown Township continues to be a valuable partner in land conservation with the establishment of this new easement.

Have a question about preserving your property? No property is too big or too small to be considered. If you are interested in exploring the opportunity to preserve your property, contact Pam Brown at pbrown@frenchandpickering.org

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CONSERVATION INITIATIVES

Native Eels Reintroduced into the Pickering Creek

BY MAUREEN FARLEY

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n August, project partners Delaware Riverkeeper Network, Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University and the United States Geologic Survey released 1,000 young native eels into Pickering Creek as part of a three-year reintroduction experiment. Eel population in the Schuylkill River and surrounding tributaries including Pickering Creek has been collapsing over the past few years. According to Dr. Erik Silldorf of the Delaware Riverkeeper Network, the population of a Canadian invasive crayfish has increased in Pickering Creek. The invasive crayfish is much larger than its native counterpart and competes for similar resources. By restoring the population of indigenous eels, a predator of the invasive crayfish, project partners hope native crayfish will increase their numbers. Native crayfish are likely to be better equipped to defend themselves against native eels due to co-evolution. Researchers believe that the Pickering Creek’s ecological health will improve as these young eels mature, reproduce and thrive in their native environment. Top: Volunteers introduce native eels into Pickering Creek. Center: Baby eels, only three inches long when introduced into Pickering Creek, can grow from two to four feet long at maturity. Bottom: The indigenous crayfish (left) is threatened by the invasive Canadian counterpart.

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IN YOUR BACKYARD

What Would Nature Do? BY DONALD PELL

Dense plantings replace a void of lawn to create an immersive, experiential garden in this small backyard.

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hether residing on a conservation easement, a few acres or a humble plot, we find ourselves asking the same question—Now what? Some imagine an emotive landscape that inspires romance, others a calm, grounding escape from life’s demands. Achieving such grandeur sustainably, not to mention affordably, can leave us daunted and enervated. Yet, if we ask instead—what would nature do— paths to our dream surroundings await. Right plant, right place. Roses offer classic beauty. But if a garden is frequented by those four-letter words on four legs (d-e-e-r), the battle is automatically lost. Thankfully, hundreds of viable alternatives can lend the same effect without deer damage. Hard soil or poor drainage need not be a curse either. Expanding our plant selection to include more suitable choices conquers these challenges, while creating original, inspired spaces. Some of these include: Perovskia atriplicifolia, Iris versicolor and Packera aurea. Rethink scale. New techniques allow homeowners to increase the scale of projects economically and sustainably. No-till drilling can seed large areas with high-value plantings, creating stunning

naturalized landscapes. Though requiring basic maintenance to weed out infiltrating species, wild landscapes create invaluable habitats for pollinators and wildlife. Compared with potted plants, landscape plugs provide great value when planting large sweeps of land. About 4.5" deep and 1.5" wide, in trays of 38 to 50 plants, plugs can cut material and labor costs up to 50 percent. Due to increasing demand, almost any plant found in finished retail sizes are now available as plugs. Dense is smart. True ecological weed control is more densely planted landscapes. Remnant prairies of the Midwest exemplify how nature wins over weeds and drought

with dense masses of plants. Using large, emergent herbaceous plants in the home landscape can reduce the need for mulch and chemical treatments. Excellent examples that naturalize quickly include flowering forbs, such as Rudbeckia, Aster and Baptisia austrailis; sedges, such as Carex cherokeensis; and grasses, such as Panicum virgatum. Taking the first steps to create a dream landscape is easier if nature is our mentor. Nature tells us to be bold and abundant, but also discerning. If we venture beyond staid suburban solutions, we will find inspired ideas that offer wonder and excitement in the designed landscape.

A remnant prairie provides a superb model for meadow reestablishment in larger landscape vistas. This article was written and submitted by Donald Pell of Donald Pell Gardens. For more information, please visit DonaldPell.com French & Pickering Creeks Conservation Trust

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PARTNERSHIPS

French & Pickering to Manage the Hopewell Big Woods Partnership BY PAM BROWN, CONSERVATION DIRECTOR

Hopewell Big Woods is the last large, unbroken forest left in southeastern Pennsylvania, encompassing over 73,000 acres, or 110 square miles. The Hopewell Big Woods Partnership was originally formed in 2001 with core members representing local non-profits and government agencies to bring attention to this landscape by establishing a set of goals for expanded conservation initiatives and economic development. French & Pickering Creeks Conservation Trust is honored to expand our efforts to carry out the mission of the Hopewell Big Woods Partnership by taking on the role of coordinating the Partnership.

Photo credit: Jim Moffett

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e would like to thank Natural Lands founders James Thorn, PhD. and Robert Eisman, PhD., and former Coordinator Kelsey Boyd, who have furthered the Partnership’s progress in working towards the six main goals. “Back in 1998, a group of conservation professionals were looking at satellite imagery of the region and had an ‘ah-ha’ moment,” said Natural Lands President Oliver Bass. “The vastness of what we now call Hopewell Big Woods was jaw dropping, and it inspired a partnership among several conservation-minded organizations, agencies, and individuals that has gone on to save over 27,600 acres of this unique landscape. We are delighted to have French & Pickering Creeks Conservation Trust take the lead in what has proven to be such a valuable and impactful partnership. Hopewell Big Woods is in great hands.” French and Pickering Creeks Conservation Trust has been working with the Hopewell Big Woods Partnership since its creation in 2001. Funded in part by the William Penn Foundation through the Delaware River Watershed Initiative, the HBW goals advance the mission of the DRWI with a focus on water quality through land protection and the importance of woodlands to air quality and climate challenges. Conservation Director, Pam Brown, will assume the role of Hopewell Big Woods Coordinator and will spearhead efforts to achieve the six main goals identified by the Partnership. For more information about the HBW Partnership, visit HopewellBigWoods.org


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hopewellbigwoods.org

Hopewell Big Woods

Highways/Roads

Waterways

County Boundaries

Major Highway Exits

Federal Park

Municipal Boundaries

Road Closed

State, County, Municipal Park

Borough

Schuylkill Water Trail

Village Center/Crossroads

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State Game Lands (S.G.L.) Conservation Organization Nature Preserve

Camping

Major Lakes Visitor Center/ Tourist Information Historic Attraction

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SIX GOALS OF THE

Hopewell Big Woods Partnership 1 The permanent protection and stewardship of at least 15,000 acres of unbroken forest in and around French Creek State Park. The Nature Conservancy identified the region as the last of the contiguous forest land in southeastern PA.

2 The conservation of water quality and quantity in the watersheds of the Upper Reaches of French Creek, the entirety of Hay Creek and the other smaller watersheds within the Hopewell Big Woods.

6

4 3 The protection and conservation of state and federally listed and other rare species and natural communities occurring within the Hopewell Big Woods.

5 The promotion of the recreational resources located in and around the Hopewell Big Woods.

The encouragement of compatible economic development within the Hopewell Big Woods that is consistent with the other conservation goals.

French & Pickering Creeks Conservation Trust

The protection of historic and culturally significant sites within our region to honor and maintain the identity of the area.

frenchandpickering.org

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FRENCH CREEK IRON TOUR

FRENCH CREEK IRON TOUR BY KERSTEN APPLER Photo credit: Jolene Mudri

SAG Rider Support follows a group of riders

Thanks to the

1,000+ registered riders, the 150+ volunteers and the many sponsors, the 17th annual French Creek Iron Tour was an enormous success! 22

Land Matters Winter 2019 | 2020

O

n one of the most beautiful Sundays in June, French & Pickering hosted the 2019 French Creek Iron Tour, a fully supported bicycle ride through the gorgeous, rolling landscape of northern Chester County. Riders passed many “Preserved Forever” signs placed on open spaces that have been permanently protected through the work of French & Pickering Creeks Conservation Trust over the past 52 years. Riders in the 17 Iron Tours since 2002 have contributed to this preservation success. Some of the 12,500 acres of protected land include historically significant land where iron blast furnaces and forges served as cornerstones of industry in colonial

Pennsylvania – hence the name of the ride, “Iron Tour.” Contrary to what some might think, the event is not an Ironman competition, but rather a tribute to the area’s impact on the history of our country. The Revolutionary War might have had a different outcome if it were not for the many iron furnaces in northern Chester County at that time. French & Pickering permanently protected the Warwick Furnace that supplied cannonballs to General Washington’s army. The routes of the Iron Tour take riders to the Warwick Furnace, Hopewell Furnace, near the Hibernia Iron Works and through Valley Forge. This year, we added a 64-mile gravel course to complement the existing seven road routes ranging from 11 to 100 miles. Sly Fox provided complimentary beer and VooDoo Deville entertained with upbeat music during the post-ride lunch. Our youngest rider was four years old. The strong little fellow who completed the 11-mile course is French & Pickering’s founders’ great-grandson – what a proud Morris Family moment! Our oldest rider, 86, has joined us for many years and in 2019 completed the 32-mile course.


Remembrance

REMEMBERING ELEANOR ILLOWAY

Eleanor Morris Illoway 1947-2019

BY JEN TRACHTMAN

T

his year marked the 17th Iron Tour cycling event. 2019 also marked the tenth year that I chaired the event with Eleanor and Stock Illoway. I missed the fun of the first few Iron Tours but was recruited for the check-in desk when the ride then started at the French Creek Elementary School. As the rider registration count increased over the years, the event became a monumental undertaking for Eleanor and Stock, in addition to all of their other professional and personal commitments. Always with an eye toward recruiting volunteers, and knowing that my son would soon be heading off to college, Eleanor asked me to join them in running the event. Honestly, I was intimidated. I had been a stay-at-home mom and out of the workforce for many years. Eleanor was a Philadelphia lawyer, a litigator at that, and she had a reputation for being a stickler. I soon learned what that meant. Eleanor’s understanding of what was most important about the Iron Tour, and her unwavering and dedicated commitment to the details required to make it happen, created a community-driven event that continues to inspire the loyalty of both volunteers and riders. It showcases the scenic countryside of northern Chester County, thousands of acres of which will forever remain that way because of the work started by her parents and carried on through her passion. She inspired my understanding and loyalty, and Eleanor and I, with Stock’s consistent and invaluable help and support, spent many years working very closely together. I went from being intimidated to cherishing my friendship and time with both of them. We will miss Eleanor in all aspects of future Iron Tours. Thanks to the immense network of volunteers she created, we will make the 2020 Iron Tour even more special than usual in tribute to Eleanor, a determined and passionate friend to me, many others, northern Chester County, the land, and to the French and Pickering Creeks.

Go out for a bike ride in honor of Eleanor, and remember to appreciate the scenery.

Eleanor Morris Illoway, attorney, community leader and beloved aunt and friend, died on October 20, 2019, of cancer, at home in Phoenixville, with Stockton Illoway, her dearest husband of 50 years, and other relatives by her side. Eleanor Illoway was born in Philadelphia in 1947 and grew up in Chester County. A 1973 graduate of University of Pennsylvania and its law school (1983), Eleanor practiced law in Philadelphia, at first at Pepper Hamilton & Sheetz, and then with Harkins Cunningham, LLP, where she was a founding partner. As a community leader, her interests were historic preservation, open space conservation and sustainable agriculture. In the 1980s she was a leader in the preservation of Historic Waynesborough in Paoli PA, the home of General Anthony Wayne. She served as President and Board member of the Philadelphia Society for the Preservation of Landmarks Society, the organization that maintains the Powel House, Grumblethorpe, Hill-Physick House and Historic Waynesborough. She was one of a team that organized and ran the Iron Tour, a bike tour benefitting the French & Pickering Creeks Conservation Trust, a land conservancy founded by her parents, Samuel and Eleanor Morris. Now an annual event, Iron Tour is the largest cycling event in Chester County. More recently, Eleanor was a founding Board member and later President of Lundale Farm, Inc., a nonprofit organization whose mission is to develop and support a community of farmers growing healthy food for our region. Lundale Farm, a 520-acre farm where Eleanor’s parents raised her and her siblings, has transitioned from a family farm to community of seven farms growing organic crops for regional markets. Eleanor was a beloved and devoted sister, sister-in-law, aunt and great aunt who never forgot a birthday or anniversary. She made friends and kept them – from high school to the most recent volunteer activity. Friends and family members treasured her beautiful, colorful and carefully composed flower arrangements made from the riches of the garden at her home in Phoenixville. In addition to her husband, Eleanor is survived by her brothers Samuel, George, Cooper and Christopher Morris; sisters Laura Morris Siena and Ozzie Abaye; sister-in-law Katie Schoettle, brother-in-law Peter Illoway; their spouses; and twenty-one nieces and nephews, their spouses, and twenty-five great nieces and nephews.

Eleanor Illoway (left) and Jen Trachtman (right) French & Pickering Creeks Conservation Trust

frenchandpickering.org

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EVENT HIGHLIGHTS

2019 FAST FACTS Over 13 states were represented, including the far-off states of Texas, North Carolina, Vermont and Florida.

Mark your 2020 calendar for Sunday, June 14 and join us for the 18th annual

The most popular course was the 32-mile course with 225 registered riders. 18 volunteer bakers supplied a total of 2,224 pieces of baked goods. There were 5 fully stocked rest stops. The course travelled through 16 local townships. 37 businesses provided in-kind donations.

Auction Party 37TH

ANNUAL

“It’s magical,” says Blake Swihart, chair of the auction planning committee. The 37th Annual Auction at Stonewall in Elverson was a magical success this year, thanks to the dedication and support of our community, committee, board and staff. Once again, community members, Board members, new friends and longtime supporters gathered for a wonderful evening of bidding and socializing to help raise awareness and support for French & Pickering, as we work to preserve and protect land in northern Chester County. Silent and live auction items included vacation home stays, one-of-a-kind crafts, and experiences such as a carriage ride. Thanks to local resident and fine art photographer Claire Rosen for generously donating her talent to capture memories of the evening with a whimsical photo booth experience.

SAVE THE DATE FOR THE

38th Annual Auction Party SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 7, 2020

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Land Matters Winter 2019 | 2020


Pennsylvania Trust proudly supports French and Pickering Creeks Conservation Trust and its mission to preserve, steward, and connect people to the land in northern Chester County.

PENNTRUST.COM RADNOR, PA We invite you to call James C. Ask | 610.975.4321

RECOGNIZED FOR AWARD-WINNING WEALTH MANAGEMENT AND TRUST ADMINISTRATION French & Pickering Creeks Conservation Trust

frenchandpickering.org

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SECTION HEADING??

Proudly serving Chester, Delaware, and Montgomery Counties for 40 years. Proudly supporting French & Pickering for a lifetime.

Tree and Shrub Planting Landscape Design • Site Preparation Grading • Tree Removal • Stump Grinding • Pruning Mulch • Composted Topsoil • Fertilizer • Seed and Sod Weeding and Edging • Annual and Perennial Flowers

484.955.2231


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