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R & R

Starting in April 2021, we will offer Natural Lands’ busiest preserves one day a week to rest and recuperate; they will be closed to the public on those days.

At Natural Lands, we love providing essential access to the outdoors through our network of nature preserves, and that our visitors have space to seek solace, exercise, and wellness. In fact, connecting people to the outdoors is core to who we are and what we do.

Also core to our mission is caring for nature—the forests, meadows, wetlands and creeks that make our preserves such special places. Since the COVID-19 pandemic began last spring, our preserves have seen three to four times the typical number of visitors. This increased visitation has challenged our ability to balance these responsibilities. You may have experienced some of these effects yourself—muddy trails, rutted parking lots, and even litter.

To address this, starting in April, eight of our busiest preserves will be closed to the public one day per week to allow our dedicated, professional staff time to tend to trail maintenance and vital natural areas management.

Mondays:Photo: Dan Barringer
Bear Creek Preserve
Mariton Wildlife Sanctuary
Tuesdays:
Binky Lee Preserve
Gwynedd Preserve
Wednesdays:
Saunders Woods Preserve
Stroud Preserve
Thursdays:
Bryn Coed Preserve
ChesLen Preserve

 

Download a printable preserve schedule here.

frequently asked questions

What is the reason for this change?
Caring for these nature preserves is a time-consuming and carefully orchestrated process. By closing selected preserves just one day a week, we anticipate being able to:

  • Provide essential care and maintenance for our busiest preserves without visitors on the trails or cars in the parking lots.
  • Complete labor- and time-intensive projects—such as tree pruning and trail stabilization—that are best tackled when the preserves are empty.
  • Offer a once-per-week respite from intensive public use for our trails, parking areas, and other preserve infrastructure that have been impacted by a dramatic increase in visitation.
  • Support our preserve stewardship staff whose workload has increased exponentially, and whose work/life balance, especially for those who live on site, has been greatly affected by the past year’s increase in visitors.

Is this a permanent change?
The preserve closures will begin the week of April 5, 2021, and continue through the end of the calendar year, at which point Natural Lands will make a determination about days of operation going forward.

Are you putting the needs of the preserves ahead of the needs of visitors?
Photo: Caleb ArrowoodWe are keenly aware of the need for solace, escape, and joy—all things nature offers—and are thrilled to be able to offer these beautiful, restorative places to visitors, free of charge.

But, we also recognize that the thoughtful and intentional ways we care for the land make our preserves exceptional places to visit. By making the time and space to steward them well, we provide additional benefit to our community.

We’ve intentionally staggered the closures so that there is, in most cases, a preserve nearby that is open for the enjoyment of our visitors.

Don’t my tax dollars pay to operate your preserves?
Actually, they don’t! While public funds often play a critical role in preserving open spaces, Natural Lands, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, relies on donor support to fund the management of a vast network of nature preserves, which is publicly accessible and free of charge.

Can I make a donation to help support the care of these preserves?
By all means! Natural Lands relies on member support for all aspects of our work. Visit natlands.org/donate.

You can also learn more about volunteer opportunities at natlands.org/volunteer.

I still have questions or concerns. Who can I talk to?
Please reach out to Kirsten Werner, senior director of communications, at kwerner@natlands.org or 610-353-5587 ext. 267.

 

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