When envisioning Chester County, some of the main sights that come to mind are our waterways and greenways. Whether you’re traveling by car, bike, foot, or some other form of transportation – these assets are enjoyed by many and provide numerous benefits to our region.
Greenways are corridors of undeveloped land that offer various advantages to their surrounding area. Often located along streams, greenways support wildlife, provide recreation and environmental benefits, and increase the quality of life for residents and visitors.
Trail and recreation corridors are often located within greenways, which can help to attract businesses and support economic development within the area. Rail trails such as the Chester Valley Trail are some of the most common forms of greenways in our region, as well as the Brandywine Creek Greenway (a regional planning initiative), which recently celebrated its 10th anniversary.
Riparian buffers are an especially important element of streamside greenways, as they help to maintain the integrity of streams and reduce the impact of pollution by filtering out unwanted chemicals and debris. These buffers are vegetated areas of land which form the transition between aquatic and terrestrial environments, and they provide numerous benefits to both sides. Examples of how to protect riparian buffers can be seen throughout the county across various programs, ordinances, and other initiatives.
Wetlands can also benefit from protected buffers, and come in a variety of types such as swamps, marshes, bogs, ponds, lakes, and hydric soils – each of which has their own distinct ecosystem and benefits. Wetlands provide important wildlife habitats which play a key role in flood prevention, surface water management, and groundwater recharge and water quality. Municipalities can enact wetland protection standards through ordinances to limit the disturbance of wetlands and protect their margins. The local standards further strengthen and enforce the Federal protections afforded to wetlands.
The wetlands protection eTool provides examples of wetland protection ordinances that can be seen in several ordinances throughout the county.
By utilizing these resources, local municipalities can create new greenways, riparian buffers, and wetland protection strategies, or help to preserve and maintain existing ones. To see additional eTools for protecting Chester County’s natural resources and environment, visit https://chescoplanning.org/Environmental/Protection.cfm.
The Planning Commission’s eTools cover a wide array of planning topics, from natural resources to economic development. The tools are easy to read, providing a quick overview of each topic, a brief explanation of how it works, and considerations for addressing the topic or regulating use. An alphabetical listing of eTools is available in our Municipal Corner.