March 21, 2013
Although Delaware’s state slogan is “the first state,” it has been the last state in the country with neither a national monument nor national park. President Obama’s executive designation will honor the Woodlawn property along with the Old Sheriff’s House, the Old New Castle Courthouse, the New Castle Green and the Dover Green as a National Park Service unit, equivalent to such icons as the Grand Canyon or the Statue of Liberty.
Originally acquired by William Penn from the Duke of York in 1682, the 1,100-acre Woodlawn property lies on the banks of the Brandywine River, primarily in Delaware and extending north into Pennsylvania. Nearby, in 1777, General George Washington’s troops defended against British forces in the largest battle of the American Revolution. Since then, the Brandywine Valley’s natural beauty has inspired generations of artists, including acclaimed painter Andrew Wyeth. Today, however, rapid development is squeezing the pristine open spaces that remain.
Thanks to an unprecedented private contribution in excess of $20 million by Mt. Cuba Center, The Conservation Fund was able to preserve the Woodlawn property and champion its inclusion in the National Park System as a national monument or park. For more than a century, the land has been managed as a wildlife preserve and open space for public recreation. With Mt. Cuba’s foresight and commitment of resources, the Fund was able to donate the property to the National Park Service, making its designation as a national monument possible.
“History will be made in the place where it all began,” said Blaine Phillips senior vice president and Mid-Atlantic regional director for The Conservation Fund. “President Obama’s designation of the Woodlawn property as part of the First State National Monument will be a celebration of Delaware’s rich contributions to American history and its inherent natural beauty. It’s only fitting that here in our nation’s first state, the National Park system will be made whole, representing every state in the country. The Conservation Fund is privileged to facilitate the protection of the Woodlawn property for the National Park Service and extremely grateful to Mt. Cuba Center for making it all possible.”
In addition to President Obama, the national monument designation draws upon the support of many public officials, who have joined to recognize the Woodlawn property’s importance to the nation. They include Interior Secretary Ken Salazar; National Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis; U.S. Senators Tom Carper (D-DE), Chris Coons (D-DE), Pat Toomey (R-PA), and Bob Casey (D-PA); U.S. Representatives John Carney, Jr. (D-DE-1) and Patrick Meehan (R-PA-7); and Delaware Governor Jack Markell.
About The Conservation Fund
At The Conservation Fund, we combine a passion for conservation with an entrepreneurial spirit to protect your favorite places before they become just a memory. A hallmark of our work is our deep, unwavering understanding that for conservation solutions to last, they need to make economic sense. Top-ranked, we have protected more than 7 million acres across America.