WEST CHESTER, PA — Chester County Commissioners Marian Moskowitz, Josh Maxwell and Michelle Kichline have announced the achievement of a significant milestone for the county: More than 30 percent of Chester County has now been preserved as open space. According to the analysis of the Chester County Planning Commission’s Protected Open Space Tracking – or POST – system, as of December 31, 2021, Chester County has reached 147,000 acres of preserved land.
“We have been saying ‘nearly 30 percent’ for a number of years, and now Chester County can confidently proclaim that 30 percent – actually 30.2 percent – of our land is protected, preserved, and will never be developed,” said Chester County Commissioners’ Chair Marian Moskowitz.
“As the fastest growing county in Pennsylvania, it remains important to balance land preservation with land development, ensuring the growth takes place in and around our urban areas, so that we can continue to connect parcels of protected open space,” added Commissioner Moskowitz.
To commemorate and celebrate this 30 percent milestone, and to share information on the County’s focus for open space preservation in the future, the Commissioners, along with staff from the County’s Planning Commission and Department of Parks + Preservation will host the 2022 Open Space Summit on Tuesday, May 10th.
Chester County Commissioner Josh Maxwell noted, “One of Chester County’s greatest assets is its open space. From green rolling hills, to wooded acres and farm fields – there’s no doubt that preserving a portion of this land is important for the future of the county and its residents.
“And we are not stopping at 30 percent,” added Maxwell.
The 2022 Open Space Summit theme, Farms for the Future, will highlight Chester County’s preserved agricultural land and how it plays a huge role in Chester County’s economy, quality of life, and sense of place. Specifically, the Summit will call attention to Chester County’s farming industry as a whole and ways that farming can be responsive to pressing environmental challenges.
“Farmland is a key aspect of Chester County’s bucolic legacy,” said Chester County Commissioner Michelle Kichline. “Thanks to the tremendous partnerships that have been developed with staff from our county departments, members of our Ag Land Preservation Board, our farm owners, conservancies and municipalities, we are able to add thousands of acres of preserved farmland every year.
“In fact, of the 2,930 acres preserved last year, nearly half of it was as agricultural conservation easements, which is one reason why this year’s Open Space Summit recognizes the important connection with our farming community.”
PA Secretary of Agriculture Russell Redding will provide the keynote address at the 2022 Open Space Summit, and other topics include regenerative agriculture and a summary of Chester County’s open space preservation efforts in 2021.
David Stauffer, Director of Chester County’s Department of Parks + Preservation said, “Chester County was the first in the region to formally set aside funds for a rigorous open space preservation program, and that program has grown to be appreciated, not just for the green fields, preserved farms and community parks, but also for the partnerships with municipalities, farmers and conservancies that have leveraged the County’s investment in protected land many-fold.
“And in addition, Chester County’s protected lands, parks and trails are proven to be true assets that generate economic value for the county,” added Stauffer.
The Chester County Open Space Summit will take place on Tuesday, May 10 at Springton Manor Farm in Glenmoore, from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Formal presentations will begin at 5 p.m., and tours of Springton Manor Farm and its agricultural operations will begin at 6 p.m.
In addition to the Summit, the Chester County Planning Commission and Chester County Parks + Preservation are offering tours of preserved farms across the county on the first three Saturdays in May. These tours will showcase the variety of preserved farms and farm products in Chester County, and give residents a unique opportunity to visit agricultural lands and learn about the value of agricultural preservation. These tours will be open to the public, but registration will be on a first-come, first-served basis.
“Farming is such an important part of Chester County’s economy and our network of protected open space, and we’re thrilled to highlight the success of our agricultural preservation program this year,” commented Chester County Planning Commission’s new Sustainability Director, Rachael Griffith.
The 2022 Open Space Summit is open to all municipal officials, non-profit organizations, land conservancies, members of the agriculture industry, county partners, and members of the public. If you are unable to attend the event in person, the Summit presentations will be livestreamed. To learn more and register for the 2022 Open Space Summit and Farm Tours, visit https://bit.ly/ccopenspacesummit.
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