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.
The following table presents a compilation of protected open space from 2010 through 2019 in Chester County, with a combination of both County funded projects and non-County funded efforts:
Estimated Open Space Protected from 2010 through 2019
Protected open space is an extremely important resource, as it provides a substantial amount of economic, environmental, and health benefits to surrounding communities. Depending on the size and location, protected open space can add significant value to nearby homes, provide a healthy amount of year-round outdoor recreational benefits, drive economic activities, and allow naturally occurring environmental processes – such as flood mitigation and wildlife habitats – to occur. In addition to this, protected open space can help residents avoid the significantly higher costs of services that would otherwise be required if the land was developed for residential use.
In May of 2019, the Chester County Commissioners announced the results of a study, The Return on Environment: The Economic Value of Protected Open Space in Chester County, which highlighted the various benefits that open space provides to Chester County. To produce this report, the Chester County Planning Commission and Chester County Commissioners partnered with the major active land conservancies, the Chester County Economic Development Council, and the Chester County Association of Township Officials. The report was released in honor of the 30th anniversary of open space preservation in Chester County.
Chester County’s protected open space is a testament to the coordinated efforts between County leadership, municipalities, nonprofit partners, local organizations, and many supportive citizens. The Chester County Planning Commission continues to recognize open space preservation as a high priority by providing efforts through the ongoing framework of our comprehensive plan, Landscapes3.