By Danae Reid
On September 14, 2019, French & Pickering Creeks Conservation Trust, located in Phoenixville, will celebrate the grand opening of the Thomas P. Bentley Nature Preserve with guided tours, hikes, and more. Named for the father of an adjoining donor/easement landowner and his brothers, the preserve is the first of its kind for French & Pickering.
French and Pickering Creeks Conservation Trust is an organization that is dedicated to protecting and preserving both land and natural resources for the benefit of the surrounding community. Joined with this is their effort to connect locals to the beauty of nature and to educate the public about the importance of caring for our earth – an undertaking that’s more vital now than ever before.
“The outpouring of support and interest in the cultural and natural history of the site is inspiring,” Bill Gladden, executive director for French & Pickering said. “We look forward to offering programs, managing the grounds and future restoration projects to maintain the high water quality, plants and animals that all contribute to this natural treasure.”
Aside from the 108 acres of land that the preserve amasses, the area also houses over 200 species (including aquatic and land habitat creatures), is the home of the historic Warwick Furnace Ruins, which was built in 1738, making it one of the oldest in the country, according to the National Registry of Historic Places. It also has the second largest white oak in the state, and over a mile of walking trails as well.
According to conservation director, Pam Brown, Chester County has the largest number of land conservancies in the state with 29% of the county being preserved.
The opening of the Thomas P. Bentley Nature Preserve isn’t just a win for the French & Pickering Creeks Conservation Trust — it’s a win for us all. Land that is preserved has striking scenic value, better water quality, less pollution, because new developments aren’t able to be built on said properties, decreased demand for community services, an increase of property values, and the list continues.
Amassing approximately 108 acres of land, the preserve is expected to have significant environmental and cultural impacts on the community as a whole. In the future, the folks from French & Pickering Creeks Conservation Trust plan to start a mentorship program for children who aren’t as easily exposed to nature.
As one might imagine, taking on a project of this magnitude has not been an easy feat, and if it wasn’t for the hard work of the F&P crew, the help of the state, Chester County, multiple municipalities, private donors and the Open Space Institute, all of whom provided funding, the acquisition would not have been possible.
Land management is a giant undertaking as well, which is why West Chester University alumnus and former middle school biology teacher, Fred Gender, lives on the preserve full-time and has dedicated his life to caring for the area.
As natural disasters continue to run rampant across the globe, it seems that the need for land conservation has reached its peak. We have transformed into such a consumer heavy culture that we have completely neglected the one place that we all call home. People across the globe have made extensive efforts to protect what is left of our world before it’s too late, and with the help of people like the F&P crew, it seems that there may still be some hope left.
If you’re interested in hearing or learning more about land conservation and how you can do your part in sustaining life as we know it, French & Pickering Creeks Conservation Trust is hosting a free event for the opening of the Thomas P. Bentley Nature Preserve on September 14, 2019, from noon-3 p.m. at address: Warwick Furnace Rd. & Valley Way Rd. in Glenmoore, PA., 19343.
You can also visit their website at: https://frenchandpickering.org for more information or to make a donation.