But this bucolic landscape is disappearing. Given its proximity to Philadelphia, Wilmington and Baltimore, Chester County is experiencing rapid growth and development, and it is becoming less of the rural countryside and more of a sprawling suburb.

Our Role

Beginning in 2009, The Conservation Fund and the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources set out to protect a 1,700-acre property along the Pennsylvania-Maryland border that spans Elk, Franklin and New London townships, the single largest privately-owned property in the area. The property contains several miles of Big Elk Creek, a tributary of the Elk River and the Chesapeake Bay, and more than 690 different plant species, 15 of which are endangered, rare, threatened or vulnerable.

The Conservation Fund purchased 735 acres that have been transferred to the state as part of White Clay Creek Preserve. Most recently, in 2017, the Fund purchased the remaining 982 acres of the property, which will also be managed as part of White Clay Creek Preserve. Funding for the effort comes from Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Chester County and Mt. Cuba Center.

Why This Project Matters

This newly-protected area connects with the Fair Hill Natural Resource Management Area immediately to the south in Maryland to create a contiguous block of outdoor recreation space in excess of 8,000 acres—one of the largest in the Mid-Atlantic. In this rapidly growing region, this much needed open space offers a place of respite from urban life.