Since our designation as a National Wild & Scenic River in 2000, we have led the effort to permanently protect nearly 2000 acres of riparian forest and open space in the White Clay watershed, and planted ### of trees.
Recognizing the impacts of land use on stream health, plants, wildlife, and recreational opportunities, a key goal of the Watershed Management Plan and the Management Committee is to preserve open space. The land preservation work in Pennsylvania is accomplished through the Open Space Subcommittee which is headed by our regional conservation partners, Natural Lands Trust and the Brandywine Conservancy.
In the first few years the Open Space Subcommittee developed a series of conservation priority maps for the Pennsylvania section of the watershed using geographical information system (GIS) data they collected. From these maps they determined priority parcels and began landowner outreach and seeking funds for easements or purchases. The landowner outreach and search for easement or fee simple purchase funds is on-going.
Another important avenue for open space protection in our upper watershed is offering services to municipal officials. In October 2004 the Management Committee and the National Park Service hosted a Watershed Open Space Workshop for officials and their open space consultants from ten Chester County, Pennsylvania municipalities. The purpose was to elicit a shared vision for inter-municipal open space and trail linkages and to discuss planning, implementation, and funding tools. Municipalities shared their current open space plans, successes, challenges, and ‘lessons learned’ and received information about programs and funding opportunities to assist in open space planning and preservation. The Open Space Subcommittee continues to work cooperatively with these municipalities.
Since there is much less privately held open space remaining in the Delaware portion of the watershed and the Delaware conservation community has historically worked together, the Management Committee’s land preservation work in the state is accomplished in cooperation with a broad Delaware-based coalition of preservation partners. Key members of that group include the Coalition for Natural Stream Valleys, White Clay Watershed Association, Delaware Nature Society, the Friends of White Clay Creek State Park, the Bi-state Preserve Council, and the CAP Council of the United Auto Workers. The group also works closely with the State of Delaware.