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YES! Stateline Woods Run for Conservation is Back!

The Trail Creek Outfitters Stateline Woods Run for Conservation is coming on Saturday, June 22nd! Now in its 12th year, the race will be better than ever! Exciting trail runs at the 5K and 10K levels. We’ve got creek crossings, logs to jump, single track trails in the woods and meadow and hill trails – something to appeal to every runner! Free kids corner during the race so parents can run and the kids can see you cross the finish line! All proceeds support our conservation efforts in Southern Chester County as well as our Continuum of Stewardship education programs for the community. Sponsors and prizes needed. We depend on the community to help us create a lasting conservation legacy. Online race signups beginning on April 15th – special pricing for early entries and for our sponsor’s! Race starts at 8:30am, registration at 7:30. Healthy snacks afterwards!

Thanks to our Sponsors Trail Creek Outfitters, Dansko, Tri-M and Harvest Market Natural Foods, Wawa, Garrison’s Cyclery, Octotora Plant Nurseries, and Fusion Racing.

Rachel Roberts Named Interim Executive Director

Rachel Roberts, MLSP, MSS, has been named the Interim Executive Director of The Land Conservancy for Southern Chester County (TLC). She officially assumed the role May 1, 2018. Rachel has a commitment to TLC’s core values and mission with the capacity to strategically guide the organization forward. The Board has great confidence that Roberts will maintain and develop the rich and meaningful community and individual relations with our local members and partners that define TLC’s unique approach to land conservation and conservation education and awareness.

With 20 years’ experience in philanthropic, government, and private nonprofit management, Roberts oversaw the movement of $100 million in program dollars to youth and families in a diversity of communities. She came to TLC in fall 2017 from Public Health Management Corporation, the country’s 4th largest public health institute. There, as Strategy Development Manager and DHS Intermediary Director, she managed a multiple large-scale programs, including the city’s afterschool and youth development programs, and pioneered a program that brought together more than 20 local, state and national wildlife and conservation partners to offer outdoor recreation activities as healthy alternatives for youth and families. Over 170 nonprofits were introduced to and adopted outdoors, wildlife, conservation, and agricultural education through fishing, archery, riparian-buffer building, and other environmental experiences—offered by the PA Game Commission, the PA Fish and Boat Commission, the Keystone Elk Country Alliance, and the MidAtlantic Youth Anglers and Outdoors Partners, to name a few.

“I came to the conservation field a bit sideways,” says Roberts. “I was an armchair conservationist going back to 1992 when I helped establish a campus environmental Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) chapter, and have continued to be active in old and new environmental advocacy groups from the Sierra Club to the Choose Clean Water Coalition. I’m also an avid equestrian, angler, birder, and bow-archer, so I’m attached to open spaces, wildlife and outdoors recreation. My career has been about how to best invest in communities and manage those investments through effective programs that impact the most people—conserving our local environment, wildlife and natural spaces is a highest and best investment in any community, and TLC does that.”

Roberts has a son in high school and daughter in elementary school in the Oxford School District and resides in West Nottingham. She grew up in Chester County between her parents’ home in Phoenixville, and her grandparents’ black angus and horse farm in East Vincent.

200 Acres Now Preserved in Elk and London Britain Townships

Fern Hill with Access to Middle Branch of the White Clay Creek

TLC is pleased to report the acquisition of a 180 acre property located in Elk Township, Chester County, Pennsylvania. The property, which is located in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed will constitute TLC’s sixth nature preserve. The property was formerly owned by the Patricia du Pont Foundation and the proceeds will go directly to support the work of the Foundation’s equine and hound rescue operations. The property contains historic ruins and the remnants of Rogers Road, woodlands, meadows, and is traversed by a mile of the Little Elk Creek and its tributaries. TLC plans to open the property to the public by the spring of 2020. In the interim, TLC plans to offer sneak peeks of the property through unique outreach programming.

TLC also recently acquired a 20 acre property located in London Britain Township, Chester County, Pennsylvania, now known as Fern Hill. The property abuts the White Clay Creek Preserve and contains a segment of the Middle Branch of the White Clay Creek. TLC plans to open the property to the public once the final trail connections to the White Clay Creek Preserve are secured. The property was formerly part of Good Hope Farm and includes the remnants of a mill race and dam. This is the first acquisition in a series of properties that TLC is hoping to secure in London Britain Township to create a contiguous conservation corridor aligned with the White Clay Creek Preserve, which will not only extend trail access from the Preserve but provide greater opportunities for fishing and sport access along the Middle Branch of the White Clay Creek.

Both projects were completed through partnerships and funding from their respective Township’s open space programs, the Chester County Government’s Preservation Partnership Program, and Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources’ Community Conservation Partnerships Program. Additional funding for the Fern Hill acquisition was provided by Pennsylvania’s Commonwealth Financing Authority’s Greenways, Trails, and Recreation Program.

TLC’s forte is acquiring threatened properties and creating trail connectors while preserving the integrity of the inherent natural, scenic, historic, and agricultural resources throughout southern Chester County.

For more information about TLC’s unique outreach programming on our nature preserve, visit tlcforscc.org or call (610) 347-0347 x 104.

Founding Executive Director Gwen Lacy Steps Down

Gwen Lacy Profile Image

 

Gwen Lacy, the founding Executive Director of The Land Conservancy for Southern Chester County (TLC), has announced her intention to step down from TLC, effective April 30, 2018, the Board of TLC confirmed.

Gwen has been a dedicated and passionate advocate for land conservation, historic preservation, environmental education and stewardship in the region for 14 years. She started here in 2004, as director of the Kennett Township Land Trust (KTLT). As KTLT became increasingly active across the region, Gwen led its transformation into The Land Conservancy for Southern Chester County, a nationally accredited land trust, in 2010.

TLC has since expanded to include a wide range of outreach and educational activities. Gwen’s vision, skill, education, legal background and tireless advocacy have led TLC to conserve more than 1,000 acres and to create 5 public nature preserves. Over the past fourteen years Gwen has orchestrated a team of staff, and helped build a board that leveraged over $15 million for land conservation projects. In 2017 alone, TLC raised more than $4 million to conserve land in the region.

From 2015-2017 Gwen spearheaded a capital campaign that raised over $1.7 million in cash and in-kind donations to purchase TLC’s new headquarters and create the Chandler Mill Interpretive Center and Nature Preserve, which opened to the public on schedule in December of 2017. The Chandler Mill Bridge, now listed on the National Register of Historic Places, has been preserved next to TLC’s Walnut Hill headquarters, thanks in large part to Gwen’s work for more than a decade. The bridge is now a key link in the proposed 12 mile Kennett greenway.

After April 30, Gwen will continue to be involved with TLC until a new Executive Director has been identified. On behalf of TLC’s board, staff, donors, and community partners, we want to thank Gwen for her dedication to our land and to our community. She has left a legacy that will benefit generations to come.

Thank you AmeriCorp Volunteers

AmeriCorp volunteers 2017
 

Thank you AmeriCorp Volunteers!

Last week we said goodbye to the seven AmeriCorp volunteers that had been helping TLC for the past three weeks.  They were a great group of young people who were hard working, polite and funny.  All were 18 - 24 years old and from the four corners of the US as well as the heartland. We wish them well on their next project and will be forever grateful for their work at TLC. For more information on their experience at TLC click here. For additional information on AmeriCorp NCCC (National Civilian Community Corps) click here.
Three weeks spent working on the preserves
 
Widening one of the trails
 

A Fun and Interesting Summer at Bucktoe Cemetery

Another season of work has come and gone with the Chester County Intermediate Unit's Migrant Education (CCIU) students this summer at the Bucktoe Cemetery. This was the third year working with the CCIU students who braved the heat this year to help continue the restoration and archaeological work at the Cemetery and church site. The Land Conservancy for Southern Chester County (TLC) has been working with the New Garden Memorial UAME Church since 2011 along with the help of restorationist Eugene Hough of Saving Hallowed Ground. You can read more about the restoration and history of Bucktoe Cemetery here. This year's program at Bucktoe Cemetery was funded through generous support from CCRES, Inc. and the Sara Bowers Fund.

CCIU students on site of church
CCIU students and staff at the church site

headstone fragment found
Headstone fragment found
Students with the CCIU work with Eugene Hough in the cemetery to help locate signs of the missing graves as there are known to be over 120 individuals buried at the site, including at least 8 Civil War veterans. This year's work paid off as part of a headstone was found in the southwest area of the site. As you can see, the headstone belonged to a woman who died in 1870 and was found at the base of a tree.





Another exciting find in the cemetery this year was a penny, but this was no ordinary penny. It dates to 1880 and is from the Netherlands. The words you see on the front of the coin say Koningrijk der Nederlanden or Kingdom of the Netherlands. The reason behind its presence is unknown at this point, but it makes for a fascinating find.

1880 Koningrijk der Nederlanden penny
Besides working in the cemetery, the students helped continue archaeological excavations of the church site. The New Garden Memorial UAME church burned in 1904 and the congregation moved into Kennett Square where they have been located on Linden Street ever since. The exact location of the church foundation is unknown, but the general location is clear. Students are helping excavate small archaeological units to uncover remnants of the church and determine the exact dimensions. This year the students began to uncover large amounts of debris from the stone church including mortar, window glass, cut nails, and charcoal possibly from the wood floor or beams. The deeper the students go, the more frequently they uncover streaks of ash from the burning of the church.

Excavating within the church
Excavating and screening within the church foundation
The final segment of the students' day included a hike around the adjacent Bucktoe Creek Preserve where they discussed how the land reflects history. Students learned to interpret the landscape to best determine where landowners were more likely to build or not based on the available resources. Students visited multiple ruins on the Preserve and learned more about the community around the church. 

TLC had a great time with the CCIU students and look forward to having them out again next summer!

TLC can help organize an evening or weekend program for anyone interested in learning more about the Bucktoe Cemetery and archaeology. TLC has worked with scout groups for badges and can arrange private hikes or programs. If interested in learning more about the Bucktoe Cemetery program, please email education@tlcforscc.org or call 610-347-0347 ext. 104. Also stay tuned for our Chronicles Day event later this fall for a chance to explore the historic sites along the Red Clay Creek corridor!

Potential Bear Sighting on TLC Preserve

Please contact Land Manager Sequoia Rock at (610) 347-0347 x 106 or landmanager@tlcforscc.org with any additional questions regarding bears at any of the TLC preserves.

February Owl Prowl & Wildlife in Winter

BucktoeCreek Preserve, TLC’s 297-acre private sister preserve, had a lot of visitors this past weekend, as we had both our Full Moon Owl Prowl on Friday night, and our Wildlife in Winter: Adaptations on Saturday. Both of these programs had been rescheduled from the brutal weekend of Winter Storm Jonas, when we had multiple feet of snow on the ground.
 

Full Moon Owl Prowl

Fortunately, no snow was coming our way this weekend, so we bundled up Friday night, met our full group of owl prowlers, along with our two owl experts, and started learning about the owls that frequent Chester County. Tim and Kelley, our owl experts for the night, went through the 8 species of owls that can be spotted in Chester County, spouting fascinating facts about owls to our captivated audience. Did you know owls are completely silent when they fly? All other birds’ feathers make a “whoosh whoosh” noise as they fly through the air, but owls’ feathers are completely silent, making it easier for them to sneak up on their prey.

Learning about the largest resident owl in Chester County, the Great Horned Owl

It was a windy, chilly night, making our chances of seeing or hearing an owl pretty low, but we had high hopes as we split our group into two for our hike. This allows each group to be quieter, which theoretically gives us a better chance of sneaking up on an owl. As the group I was with proceeded into the woodlands, we stopped to try to call for an Eastern Screech Owl, followed by a Barred Owl. We were unsuccessful, but decided to search for eye shine in case we hadn’t seen the bird fly in. As we scanned the trees, we noticed two small eyes, with greenish/yellow eye shine peering back at us from a tall, distant tree. The creature kept staring at us, turning its head away a few times, but it seemed generally undisturbed by us, until we finally decided to move on, unsure of who we had just crossed paths with. Afterwards, one of our participants Annette, did a little detective work and found out that owls only have red eye shine. I followed up her detective work with a little of my own to find raccoons are the most likely animals to be in that habitat with a greenish/yellow eye shine. How fascinating that you can identify nocturnal animals by the color of their eye shine! We continued on, but unfortunately the wind was keeping the owls quiet. We met back up with the second group, who were unable to find owls either, for a nice wrap up with some delicious hot chocolate to warm up with. While we didn’t see any owls, our participants were certainly not disappointed, and I’m sure we will see them back for the next owl prowl, held on April 22nd from 7:30pm-9:00pm.
 

Wildlife in Winter



Searching for evidence of wildlife in winter

Saturday was the day of our Wildlife in Winter: Adaptations program, but with the weather being in the 60’s it certainly didn’t feel like winter! Many families joined Environmental Educator Holly Merker, eager to learn a bit about our native animals, and hopeful that we would find some evidence and maybe even spot some critters living on Bucktoe Creek Preserve. We started out learning a little bit about the adaptations animals may use to help themselves survive through the winter. Some animals, such as fox and squirrels, do a behavior called caching. This means when their food source is abundant, they save some and store it for a time when it might not be so easy to find food. Other animals use camouflage to keep themselves hidden since the habitat in the winter is much sparser. Our taxidermy fox was a perfect example, the browns and reds of the fur blended perfectly with the meadow. We learned that some birds go into a state of torpor every night, meaning their heart and respiration rates slow down and their body heat drops, effectively conserving the energy they have so diligently built up during the day.


Once we were filled with interesting tidbits on adaptations our native animals use, we went out on the trail with a scavenger hunt as our guide. We wanted to find tracks, scat, and any other sorts of evidence left behind, and we were not disappointed! Almost immediately after being on the trail, we spotted some fox scat, along with little holes built by rodents on the sides of the trails. A participant quickly spotted a praying mantis egg case, and a little further down the trail we found an insect gall. We were lucky enough to see a rabbit scurry into the bushes, and hear an Eastern Towhee singing from the brush. Everybody had a wonderful time, and maybe even learned a little bit too! Join us for a last Wildlife in Winter program held on March26th from 1:00pm-2:30pm, focused on Migration.
Looking at a praying mantis egg case

We had a great weekend exploring the outdoors and learning about our native creatures! Join us for one of our upcoming programs and have your own outdoor adventure!




Mammals of Southeastern Pennsylvania


As I’m writing this blog post, rain and ice has been falling since yesterday. The cold temperatures, rain, and ice may make you want to stay inside, bundled nice and warm, but here at TLC, we believe “the warmth is in the walk!” Despite the 16-degree weather last Saturday, a room full of winter-ready, excited participants joined me and expert TLC Naturalist, Gary, to learn all about the Mammals of Southeastern Pennsylvania.
 
The program started out indoors at TLC’s Walnut Hill Headquarters, where Gary laid out fascinating pelts, skulls, and antlers of mammals from our area. Gary began the program by talking about what makes a mammal a mammal: being warm-blooded, having hair, birthing live babies (except for Platypuses, which lay eggs, of course), and having mammary glands. He touched on the apex predators which historically lived here, including the Eastern Timberwolf, the Bobcat, and the Black Bear, and how in their absence, the ecosystem has changed completely. Naturally, this brought us to a discussion about the White-tailed Deer, whose populations have exploded in recent years because of the lack of the apex predators. This explosion in Deer has given the invasive plants in our area an advantage; the White-tailed Deer have evolved to choose the native plants as their food source leaving invasives like Autumn-olive, Multiflora rose, and Mile-a-Minute completely untouched.
The photo on the left shows Gary holding the pelt of a Nutria, an invasive species in North America which is part of the rodent family. On the right, he is explaining how mammal's skulls have evolved to eat meat, vegetation, or both.
Then, we started to talk about other families of mammals: Canines (Coyotes, Eastern Gray Fox, and Red Fox), the Felines (Bobcats), the Weasels (Minks, Otters, Martins) and more.  Gary discussed the different senses these mammals use—how Canines with their long noses utilize their sense of smell, and Felines have short noses, but big eyes which allow them to hunt primarily by sight. He pulled out a Coyote skull, and showed us how these carnivores have teeth built for tearing and slicing meat as opposed to the teeth of herbivorous deer, which primarily have molars for grinding vegetation. As omnivores, human teeth fall somewhere in-between, with both incisors for tearing and molars for grinding.
 
At that point, we grabbed our Tracks & Scat field guides, bundled up, and headed outside to search for evidence of mammals in the area. Since we had already learned most mammals are nocturnal, we knew searching for evidence is the best way to understand what is living in our area. Just steps away, right beneath the Chandler Mill Bridge we were able to find a large amount of frozen tracks in the mud. We immediately spotted some tiny tracks leading up to the creek, which we keyed out to be a gray squirrel. We moved further along the creek, and found raccoon tracks, more squirrel tracks, domestic dog tracks, and what we believe were mink tracks!
The tracks on the left were left by a Raccoon, the photo on the right shows various different animal tracks.

TLC offers a host of outdoor education programs all year round at Bucktoe Creek Preserve. Up next we have Wildlife in Winter Part II: Adaptations with Naturalist Holly Merker. This program will be held on Saturday, February 20th from 1:00-2:30. Learn how wildlife in our area survive the extreme winter weather by using different types of adaptations, such as camouflage. Check out all of our upcoming programs here.


 

 

Winter Solstice Celebration