Gwynedd Preserve is an oasis of nature nestled among the highly developed suburbs of Blue Bell and North Wales. After more than a century in agriculture, the preserve’s fields are being carefully restored. A walk along the trails reveals a re-emerging ecosystem of native plants including warm-season grasses and wildflowers.
The meadow and forest habitats here are particularly important because they are connected to other preserved lands in the Wissahickon Creek watershed. The entire 26-mile length of the riparian corridor of the Wissahickon Creek greenway is protected by private landowners and conservation organizations, as well as township and state entities.
1/2 mile northeast of Township Line and South Swedesford Roads
Gwynedd Preserve was once part of Record Farms established in 1872 by William M. Singerly. In time, the farm—named for Singerly’s newspaper, The Philadelphia Record—grew to more than 700 acres and, in 1912, was sold to Ralph Beaver Strassburger and renamed Normandy Farm. The property remained in agriculture until Jack and Claire Betz, who had purchased the various parcels during the 1970s and early 1980s, donated 110 acres to Natural Lands in 1986 so that the land would be forever maintained as a wildlife preserve. In the following years, the Betz family generously helped add another 124 acres to the preserve. A donation and sale of land by Lee and Phoebe Driscoll allowed us to add an additional 45 acres in 2008.
American Kestrels build their nests in cavities—usually trees hollowed out by woodpeckers or other birds—but adapt well to man-made nest boxes like those installed at many of our preserves. Though the most abundant falcon in North American, their numbers are in decline as nesting habitat is lost to development.