Township receives first annual Growing Greener Communities Award,
presented by Natural Lands Trust
Natural Lands Trust—in partnership with the Chester County Association of Township Officials (CCATO)—honored East Bradford Township, Chester County, today with the first annual Growing Greener Communities Award. East Bradford Township Supervisor John Snook accepted the award on behalf of the Township at the CCATO conference, held in Malvern.
The award recognizes a Chester County township that has engaged in a dynamic initiative designed to save land, steward natural resources, and connect people to nature.
“Chester County’s communities have been true leaders in open space preservation, smart growth, and sustainable environmental policy,” said Molly Morrison, president of Natural Lands Trust. “We wanted to recognize the excellent work happening at a township level and celebrate the dedicated officials, staff, and volunteers who make it possible.”
“We are pleased to partner with Natural Lands Trust on this award program, and hope that it serves to encourage and promote continued forward-thinking projects and planning within the County,” said Ernie Holling, president of CCATO.
Municipalities and conservation-minded organizations submitted six nominations on behalf of five townships. The nominations highlighted initiatives undertaken in 2013, though several nominations noted that the past year’s work was part of larger open space planning. The review committee—which consisted of representatives from Natural Lands Trust, CCATO, Chester County Planning Commission, and Brandywine Conservancy—was unanimous in its decision to select East Bradford Township as this year’s award winner.
East Bradford’s Open Space Initiative—which Township residents first approved 30 years ago—is designed to protect natural areas and connect them through a trail network. The Township has funded their conservation work through grants, fundraising efforts, and a dedicated tax for open space. Thanks to these efforts, Township residents enjoy 6,000 acres of permanently protected land, 16 parks, and 26 miles of trails.
To further its conservation initiatives, East Bradford Township has utilized regulatory tools—such as the adoption of Growing Greener: Conservation by Design zoning ordinances, which help to preserve land during the development process. In recent years, the Township resolved to place its land under conservation easement, a legally-binding agreement that ensures the land will be protected forever. The Township also decided to create and follow a stewardship plan for each of its properties in order to maximize community enjoyment of Township parkland.
Said David Ward of the Chester County Planning Commission, “East Bradford Township’s open space initiative is simply masterful. It’s the poster child for thoughtful, proactive conservation and land-use planning.”
In 2013, East Bradford secured County funding for the conservation easement of more than 80 acres of Township land, galvanized a volunteer effort to plant 750 trees, commissioned stewardship plans for three of the Township’s 16 parks, constructed more than two miles of trails, and harvested about 35 deer as part of the Township’s wildlife management plan.
Trail development continues to be a focus for the Township. In June 2013, the Township organized its second annual Trail Blazer Race with the support of three local businesses. The Township will use proceeds from the event to fund trail construction and maintenance.
Natural Lands Trust is the region’s foremost land conservation organization and is dedicated to protecting the forests, fields, streams, and wetlands that are essential to the sustainability of life in eastern Pennsylvania and southern New Jersey. Since its founding in 1953, Natural Lands Trust has preserved more than 100,000 acres, including 42 nature preserves totaling more than 22,000 acres. Today, millions of residents enjoy the healthy habitats, clean air and water, bountiful recreational opportunities, and scenic beauty provided by the lands the organization has preserved. For more information, visit www.natlands.org.