Earth Day: County celebrates transformation of Loch Nairn into park

Meeting at the former Loch Nairn Golf Club, which has been preserved and will become a public park, are the representatives who are investing in its environmental transformation. From left to right: Chester County Commissioner Eric Roe; Drew Gilchrist, Regional Advisor for the PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources; Kate Raman, Project Manager for Natural Lands; David Unger, Chair, New Garden Township Board of Supervisors; Christopher Himes, New Garden Township Manager; Chester County Commissioners’ Chair Josh Maxwell; Ted Gallivan, New Garden Township Supervisor; Chester County Commissioner Marian Moskowitz; State Representative Christina Sappey; and Dave Stauffer, Director, Chester County Parks + Preservation.

Chester County appreciates the purpose and global efforts of the annual Earth Day (April 22) in raising awareness of the need to protect Earth’s natural resources for future generations. It is that same purpose that guides the County and its network of partners in land preservation, conservation, water resource protection and sustainability efforts throughout the year.

To highlight the importance placed upon protection of natural resources for future generations, the Chester County Commissioners met with New Garden Township officials, Representative Christina Sappey, staff from the PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and from Natural Lands to tour the site of the former Loch Nairn Golf Club, which has been preserved and will be converted into a public park.

“For many decades, those who love the natural beauty and resources of Chester County have committed to protecting them,” said Chester County Commissioners Josh Maxwell, Marian Moskowitz, and Eric Roe.  “That commitment began with the overwhelming agreement by our residents to invest in preserving land and natural resources nearly 40 years ago, and it continues through our partnerships with state and municipal governments, conservancies and nonprofits to invest in projects like this transformation of Loch Nairn Golf Club into a park that will be free to be enjoyed by all.”

Conversion of the land in New Garden Township from a golf course to a park will help improve water quality, absorb floodwaters, and offer many more environmental benefits. The property includes a tributary to White Clay Creek, which was federally designated a National Wild and Scenic River in 2000.

The Smedley family, who originally owned and operated the golf course, worked in conjunction with New Garden Township and a range of partners to preserve the property for public use in perpetuity.

Partners that provided the financial support for the land conservation include the Chester County Commissioners; New Garden Township; the PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR); Bureau of Recreation and Conservation – Keystone Recreation, Park and Conservation Fund; the Virginia Cretella Mars Foundation; and the White Clay Creek Wild and Scenic River Program. Natural Lands served as New Garden Township’s consultant and prepared the grant applications.

This innovative golf course-to-park preservation effort is reflective of the ongoing work throughout Chester County to preserve the most productive non-irrigated agricultural soils in the world, provide adequate local and county park and recreation opportunities, preserve significant natural areas, and encourage revitalization of developed areas for residents of Chester County and beyond.

As of last year, more than 151,000 acres, or 31.1 percent of Chester County, has been preserved through a combination of county and partner efforts.

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