Chandler Mill Nature Preserve and Center


The Chandler Mill Bridge and future Nature Preserve, part of the Red Clay Creek Conservation Corridor

TLC received a $150,000 grant in 2016 from PA’s Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) to help fund the Chandler Mill Nature Preserve and Interpretive Nature Center. Read more about the project below and in the following articles:

Daily Local article, April 6, 2016- Grant gives nature preserve a boost

Chadds Ford Live article, April 2, 2016- From conflict to serenity

Last year’s grant has allowed TLC to complete the pervious parking lot at TLC’s Walnut Hill headquarters and Interpretive Nature Center. The parking lot, completed fall 2017, allows stormwater to infiltrate rather than run off into the stream. This filters out pollutants and helps eliminate erosion and flooding. McMahon Associates, Inc. designed the parking lot and highlight the project in the following video where you can see the pervious concrete in action!. 

TLC’s next nature preserve–a 45 acre preserve containing an Interpretive Nature Center, a key link in the 12-mile planned Kennett Greenway traversing along the Red Clay Creek, and connection to over 500 acres of contiguously conserved habitat.

As our communities become more and more developed, traffic has increased even on once-quiet back roads, waterways are inundated with stormwater runoff and non-point source pollution, and open land is converted to housing developments. It is crucial to protect these quickly-disappearing resources, now and for future generations. The Chandler Mill Nature Preserve is made possible through the decision to preserve the Chandler Mill Bridge–a 105-year-old steel plate through girder bridge–as a pedestrian-only throughway. The bridge was officially designated for pedestrian, bicycle, and emergency vehicle access only in January of 2015, through a Resolution passed by the Kennett Township Board of Supervisors. View the Resolution Here.

Philadelphia Inquirer Article, February 7, 2015: Township, Chesco Agree to Save Bridge


Mill Race Trail along the Red Clay Creek

The Chandler Mill Bridge crosses over the Red Clay Creek, and was originally built as a farm-to-market connection, supporting the agricultural industry that has always played a key role in Chester County’s economy, history, and cultural heritage. The Red Clay Creek was crucial to the operations of the grist mill that was located in the area for generations. The Chandler Mill Bridge and surrounding area are key examples of the ways our community has been shaped by its waterways, highlighting the importance of protecting these resources for future generations.

Now that the future of the bridge is secure, TLC has seized the opportunity of a lifetime to create an educational and recreational resource that will benefit the community for generations to come, while protecting the diverse natural resources and waterways we rely on for health and well-being. The future preserve is located at the confluence of the Red Clay and Bucktoe Creeks, and contains Class I Woodlands and Meadows, specimen trees, rare species of flora and fauna, and historic sites. It is part of an Audubon Important Bird Area, as well as an over 30-year-long Cornell Lab of Ornithology study. The future Chandler Mill Nature Preserve and Interpretive Center is part of the largest contiguously conserved areas in the Township, with over 500 areas of conserved open space containing some of the most biodiverse habitats in the region. This project will greatly advance TLC’s efforts to protect, enhance, and promote the importance of watershed health within the Brandywine/Christina Watershed.

Through the generosity of a local landowner and conservationist, 45 acres of previously private land surrounding the Chandler Mill Bridge has been donated for the creation of the Chandler Mill Nature Preserve. The preserve will contain a key link in the emerging 12-mile Kennett Greenway Trail System, a 1-mile multi-use segment that will traverse along the East and West Branches of the Red Clay Creek. The Greenway will help to create a more walkable community, giving residents the freedom to walk or ride their bikes to key points throughout the Township. It will eventually provide connections to larger regional trail systems.

Walnut Hill Headquarters and Interpretive Nature Center

TLC has acquired the former Walnut Hill Bed & Breakfast, located adjacent to the Chandler Mill Bridge. In 2015, Walnut Hill became TLC’s new Headquarters. We are currently converting the former garage into an Interpretive Nature Center, which will serve as an environmental center for the community in conjunction with the habitat observation areas on the preserve’s trails. The Interpretive Nature Center will educate the community about habitats on the preserve and the importance of land and water conservation, with displays demonstrating the importance of the Red Clay Creek throughout history. TLC will continue to host educational programming at the site that highlights the interconnected habitat on the property, and the role each element plays in facilitating the health of our watershed.

TLC’s goal is to create a vibrant community resource, while using best practices that demonstrate innovative ways of protecting and enhancing water resources and environmental health. We will utilize sustainable building practices such as permeable parking areas, which will help to prevent the issues caused by a traditional paved parking area, including flooding runoff and erosion. We have already begun conducting riparian plantings at the site, and will continue this practice of habitat restoration as the project progresses. We will also install improvements such as rain gardens and pollinator gardens to continually improve habitat on the property and avoid surface runoff. Not only will our environmental education programming provide people of all ages with meaningful experiences in nature, the preserve will serve as an example for ways all of us can minimize our impact on the watershed and create meaningful positive change.

Things to do at the Future Chandler Mill Nature Preserve:

  • Bike or hike over the historic Chandler Mill Bridge and enjoy the beautiful views of the Red Clay Creek along the Kennett Greenway.
  • Practice skipping stones with your children and grandchildren on the Red Clay Creek.
  • Learn more about our local natural resources by attending a TLC educational program, such as Wildlife in Winter, Life in the Water, or a Historic Hike.
  • Stop by TLC’s Interpretive Nature Center for educational displays, maps, checklists, and field guides, before heading out onto the trails.
  • Visit the Bucktoe Cemetery to honor local African American soldiers who fought in the Civil War
  • Organize a badge-building workshop for your Scout Troop
  • Bring your class or community group on a field trip

Learn more about the Chandler Mill Bridge

Want a behind-the-scenes look at the preserve? Email or call 610-347-0347 x 104 to schedule a guided hike!

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The Chandler Mill Nature Preserve and Nature Center is located at 541 Chandler Mill Rd. in Avondale, PA 19311.