Today is Arbor Day and we are acknowledging how trees are a critically important resource for Chester County and planet earth. Planting a tree is an incredibly simple, yet impactful way to improve the environment and reduce greenhouse gases.
One of the six goals of Landscapes3, the county’s comprehensive plan, focuses on protecting natural resources. These include trees and woodlands which provide shade, capture stormwater runoff, filter pollutants, mitigate urban heat islands, reduce sound and light pollution, remove carbon from the atmosphere, provide wildlife habitat, beautify communities, and increase property values. These add up to quite the list of essential benefits, proving just how important trees and woodlands truly are for our environment.
The 2020 Census is well underway, and as of April 26, 2020, Chester County has a response rate of 63.8%. While this number is higher than the current response rates of both the state (54.8%), and the country (53.4%), it’s not as high as it could be – so we want to be sure to keep it up!
Chester County developed its first Climate Action Plan in 2010 entitled the Chester County Greenhouse Gas Reduction (GHGR) Report. This report was created by a diverse group of stakeholders who provided numerous ideas for reducing carbon emissions at the county and local levels. While many of the initiatives were implemented, more needed to be done.
In the summer of 2019, the Commissioners directed the Chester County Planning Commission to explore options for updating the GHGR report and transforming it into a new Climate Action Plan for Chester County. The PA Department of Environment Protection had just released an updated Pennsylvania Climate Action Plan in April 2019, so it was perfect timing to update the county’s plan.
Chester County government has a long history of protecting the environment and its many natural areas. County departments and agencies have been at the forefront of resource protection, some of them long predating the original Earth Day in 1970. Since 1989, the Commissioners of Chester County have created and funded one of the most comprehensive and sustained efforts in the country to promote a high quality of life through critical environmental protection efforts.
Controlling sprawl development is one of the most important ways the county and municipalities can protect the environment. In fact, since 1995, sprawl development has been significantly reduced, with 10,000 fewer acres developed than expected, despite much more population growth than predicted. The Chester County Planning Commission, established 70 years ago in 1950, has taken the lead on these efforts and has a well-established mission of sound land use planning and natural resource protection. With the adoption of Landscapes in 1996, the goals of reducing sprawling development, protecting the environment, and preserving open space were officially established as adopted county policy. Landscapes3, the third iteration of the county’s comprehensive plan, continues this strong resource protection tradition.
The Chester County Planning Commission is excited to announce the release of a new environmental booklet in honor of the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day, “50 Ways Your Community Can Protect Our Planet!”
With many of the Earth Day 2020 events canceled due to the current COVID-19 crisis, Chester County’s goal is still very much focused on the environment and climate action. This booklet – which can easily be downloaded, printed, or shared across platforms – features five areas, each highlighting a different topic to help protect our planet’s resources and ensure a resilient environment that supports healthy communities. The topic areas include: Rewilding the Suburbs; Greening for Everyone; Discovering New Routes; Corralling Growth; and Befriending the Environment.
Each year, the Chester County Planning Commission collects data on the total amount of protected open space in Chester County – and 2019 had more great numbers to report!
In 2019, there was a total increase of 2,400 acres of protected open space in Chester County, and as of December 31, 29.3% of the county – or a total of 142,000 acres – was permanently-protected. Last year, the Agricultural Land Preservation Board (ALPB) preserved 18 farms totaling 1,247 acres through its Agricultural Preservation Program. There were an additional 80 acres added to county parks and over 200 acres added to municipal parks, including the 115-acre Crouse property in East Pikeland and the 105-acre St. Anthony in the Hills property in New Garden. Master plans for the development of these new parks are moving forward. The county’s conservancies were also very active, preserving nearly 700 acres of land, including additions to State Game Lands in West Nantmeal, the Castle Rock Farm in West Brandywine and Pocopson, an addition to the Welkenweir Preserve, and an expansion of the White Clay Creek Preserve.
In honor of Earth Day on April 22, this month’s highlighted eTools focus on a variety of different sustainability practices and resources. With a need to address greenhouse gas emissions and energy consumption, energy efficiency and sustainable practices become important considerations for everyone. The tools below can support sustainability in a number of ways – from improved air and water quality, to protecting wildlife habitats and more.
In March of 2020, the U. S. Census Bureau released the estimated 2019 population for all counties in Pennsylvania, along with data describing the people who were moving in and out of each county. This data set (which has been maintained since 2010) shows that over the last ten years, Chester County’s population estimate grew by 25,064 (or 5.01%), which is the 5th largest county percent increase in the state, and the 4th largest increase in total numbers.
Funding has been awarded to seven municipal projects in the first round of the Vision Partnership Program (VPP) for 2020, which will help advance community projects such as comprehensive plans, ordinance updates, and other planning studies. Demand was high this grant cycle, with over $368,000 in support requested. Due to rollover funds from past cycles and projects coming in under budget, more $200,000 was available for projects, which enabled grants to multiple, but not all, applicants.
In these uncertain times, getting a complete count of the county’s residents is more important than ever. The results of the census will help determine our community’s future – from funding for school lunches, to highways and public transit options, to responding to natural disasters.
When you fill out the census, you should include all those living in your house as of April 1, 2020 (Census Day). We encourage all residents to complete the census ASAP, however due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, the deadline has been extended to August 14, 2020.
Completing the census is easy! You can fill it out online, over the phone, or by U.S. mail. For more information about the 2020 census and to do your part, please visit www.2020census.gov.