saving open space

Natural Lands has been protecting open space since the early 1950s. In that time, we have completed hundreds of conservation projects, each one unique it its own way. There is, however, a common thread to every conservation story: it begins with a landowner who makes the choice to protect her or his land.

So how does it all work? Here’s a peek under the hood.

Photo: Mark Williams

buying land to keep it

Natural Lands is unique among the region’s conservation organizations because of how much land we own. As any landowner knows, that’s a big (and expensive) commitment! But we know if we own it, it’s protected forever. Plus, we can then share our preserves with visitors like you!

We currently own 43 nature preserves and one public garden across two states and 13 counties, totaling more than 23,000 acres. And counting.

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conservation easements

Many times, Natural Lands doesn’t buy land to save it. Rather, it stays in private ownership but we place it under a conservation easement.

A conservation easement is a voluntary but legally binding agreement between a landowner and a qualified conservation organization that permanently limits a property’s use and binds all present and future owners of the land.

We currently hold 427 easements on more than 25,000 acres. Our staff visit these properties every year to ensure the terms of the easements are being upheld.

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buying land to give it away

Because of our expertise in buying land outright (and in securing grant money to pay for it), we’ve learned over the years that we can help other organizations acquire open space by buying it and then “flipping” the land to them. We do this most often for state parks and forests, and for townships.

helping others

A huge part of the work we do at Natural Lands is helping other non-profits and government agencies with their open space goals. In addition to buying land on their behalf, we also help our partners manage the land they own using smart, sustainable, tried-and-true practices.

We also help townships raise money for open space, revise their zoning codes to help them retain open space during development, develop park master plans, and build trail systems.

More than 140 municipalities have achieved their own open space goals in consultation with our conservation services team.

In a nutshell, we grow greener communities.

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Considering conservation? Email Peter Williamson, vice president of conservation services, or call him at 610-353-5587 x 215.

Delaware River Watershed Initiative

An unprecedented collaboration to protect and restore water quality in the Delaware River Watershed.

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