Historic Beaver Valley property preserved as open space
Several conservation groups have stepped in to save the historic Beaver Valley property, adjacent to the First State National Historical Park.
Beaver Valley has a rich history – originally acquired by William Penn from the Duke of York in 1682. But the property was under threat of development until recently.
Conservation Fund Mid-Atlantic director Blaine Phillips says there was a proposal to build 150 homes on the site.
“The First State National Historical Park was originally designated as a monument in 2013, and this development proposal came very soon after that," Phillips said.
But just this past fall, the Conservation Fund – along with the help from the Mt. Cuba Center and the Brandywine Conservancy – entered into an agreement with the landowner Woodlawn Trustees to ensure the property remained on open space site.
Mt. Cuba Center Director of Public Engagement Sara Stevenson says helping acquire the property fit with their mission of protecting natural habitats.
“There’s a lot of rare plants and animals on these properties in particular, and development is one of the ways that really sort of fractures green space and puts plants and animals at risk," Stevenson said.
The Beaver Valley area supports a mosaic of forest, old fields, open meadows and wetlands. It's also home to several endangered plants – and the endangered bog turtles.
In particular, Stevenson says the property includes some 200-300 year-old trees that help establish the forest’s ecosystem.
The property – with several streams and trails – will remain open to the public for hiking and other use.
Director of the Brandywine Conservancy Ellen Ferretti says the public was deeply involved in the grassroots effort to save the property from planned development.
“The public has taken on a sense of ownership of this property," Ferretti said. "And it’s wonderful that they will be able to continue to use it and know that it’s there to protect the watershed in perpetuity.”
Trails on the property will be maintained – and hopefully enhanced through a partnership with the First State National Historical Park.