Green Hills Preserve
Green Hills Preserve is a bucolic mixture of gently rolling farm fields, woodlands, and wetlands. A tributary to Allegheny Creek, a state-designated “Cold Water Fishery” stream, bisects the preserve.
The Preserve is situated within the Schuylkill Highlands, a region at the nexus of two landscapes that have been prioritized for protection: the Highlands (as defined by the US Congress) and the Schuylkill River watershed. The area’s importance derives from the need to protect water quality, conserve habitat, and develop recreational opportunities in a region set for considerable growth over the next 20 years.
Located not far from an old stone springhouse—and fed by the cool, clear springs there—stands a towering red maple. This massive specimen has a trunk circumference of 188 inches (about five feet in diameter!) and is about 75 feet tall with a crown spread of 95 feet. In 2014, this giant was added to the official list of Pennsylvania Big Trees.
This expanse of rolling grasslands, woodlands, and wetlands was once destined to be paved. A developer had planned to build the “The Villages of Green Hills,” a 670-house subdivision that would have left little green in these hills.
When the developer’s fortunes changed, conserving the property was suddenly a possibility. After more than two years working to piece together critical funding from ten different sources, we were able to purchase the property, establishing Green Hills as Natural Lands’ first preserve in Berks County.
In 2012, the preserve opened to visitors. Four years later, Green Hills grew to its present size through the acquisition of two adjacent properties.
even greener hills
In the early 20th century, population growth—which led to conversion of farmland into houses—and changes in farming practices caused a devastating ripple effect for birds and other wildlife that depend on open fields and meadows for survival. At Green Hills Preserve, we have been working to re-establish these once plentiful habitats by transforming crop fields to grasslands… one acre at a time.