Nature Conversations: Natural Lands

April 16, 2020

Ed CunicelliAt Natural Lands our mission is to save open space, care for nature, and connect people to the outdoors. Interested in how we do that? Read on!

Today’s expert is Oliver Bass, president of Natural Lands. Over 21 years at Natural Lands he led the organization’s communications efforts and grew its mission commitment to connecting people to nature.

Here are highlights from our conversation with Oliver, originally presented on our Facebook page.

Natural Lands

Good morning, everyone. I’m delighted to have this opportunity to answer questions about Natural Lands, the Philadelphia region’s oldest and largest open space conservation organization. So, ask away!

What’s a good preserve to visit to see springtime blooms?
Great question. Hildacy Preserve in Marple Township, Delaware County, can be pretty spectacular this time of year. There are many flowering trees. It’s a 55-acre preserve with about a mile and a half of trails through woodlands and meadows. There’s also a nice stretch of Crum Creek.

What is your favorite part of you job?
Honestly, it’s the exceptional people I get to interact with on a daily basis… our staff, supporters, volunteers, Board of Trustees, colleagues at other conservation organizations, and many other friends.

I know you’re not supposed to pick favorites….but what is your favorite Natural Lands preserve?
There’a special place in my heart for our preserves in southern New Jersey. The Glades Wildlife Refuge is a beautiful expanse of saltwater marshes that are often overflowing with incredible birds. And the pine trees and sandy soils at our Peek Preserve remind me of my hometown in Texas.

Hi Oliver! My family and I are so grateful for Nat Lands preserves to play in and visit! What can we do to help Natural Lands during this pandemic?
Thanks for your question. Like all non-profits, Natural Lands relies on the support of our many members to carrying out our mission. So, if someone is already a member, we’re grateful! If not – and especially if they’re enjoying our preserves during this difficult time – we’d love for them to join.

Do you ever have to fight with developers to “win” a property? How do you know when land is available?

Another great question. We find out about conservation opportunities in a number of ways. Our conservation staff is out in communities, talking with local officials and others all the time so we often hear about properties that are for sale through the networks we’ve built over the decades. In other instances, we identify areas that are a priority either because of the natural resources present, its connection to other protected lands, or a particular habitat and work to build a relationship with the landowner.

Can you tell us about one big upcoming project that has you excited?
There are so many terrific projects in the works, that it is hard to choose. At our Bryn Coed Preserve in Chester County, we’ve recently planted 12,500 trees over a 64-acre area. One of the largest tree planting efforts we’ve ever undertaken. Down the road, there will be a number of stream restoration projects there, as well. We’ve only had the preserve a short time but the progress that our land stewardship team has made there is extraordinary.

Thank you all for the great questions and the opportunity to chat a bit. Please stay safe and well.