Just before the New Year, Wissahickon Trails and our public and private partners were successful in acquiring and preserving a key piece of land that connects 2 trail networks and their associated open space. This 10-acre property on Lewis Lane in Whitpain Township expands our Camp Woods preserve to 48 acres and is part of the historical landscape of Dawesfield, a house of local historic significance that sits on a neighboring property.
The house was George Washington’s Whitpain headquarters during the Revolutionary War. While General Washington stayed with the Morris Family at the house, his troops camped-out across the surrounding landscape, including Camp Woods. Over the decades, numerous revolutionary war-era artifacts have been found at Camp Woods, including musket balls, shoe buckles, utensils, and more.
Wissahickon Trails has been working with community members as well as Whitpain Township, Montgomery County, and the State over the past 20+ years to preserve more than 200 acres of open space adjacent to the Prophecy Creek, a tributary to the Wissahickon Creek. Preserving the lands along Lewis Lane and the Prophecy Creek are a preservation priority to a variety of stakeholders owing to the trifecta of expanding existing open space, preserving land with historical relevance, and protecting the riparian buffer of a key tributary to the Wissahickon. Several neighbors on Lewis Lane have been instrumental to this longterm preservation effort, not only in helping to secure open space in this priority area (59 acres have been added in just the last 5 years), but also by donating conservation easements and trail easements on their properties (in light blue on Figure 1 above), which gives Wissahickon Trails the perpetual right to limit development, protect existing natural resources, and to build and maintain a trail in a designated area on those properties.
Our future plans include habitat improvement work and trail creation. The trail easements donated by the neighbors enable public access to the new acreage and, together with our recent acquisition, provide the desired connectivity between our Armentrout and Camp Woods preserves on the north side of Lewis Lane with Briar Hill Preserve and Whitpain’s Prophecy Creek Park on the south side of Lewis Lane creating a network of approximately 7 miles of trails. We aim to complete this trail connection in 2023. In terms of our habitat work, the 10-acre property is largely turf grass with a forested edge, not terribly beneficial from a habitat perspective. Our conservation team is planning a restoration effort which will convert most of the turf to native habitats, particularly focusing on extending the forest edge of Camp Woods and thereby better protecting the interior forest. This work will be gradual and occur over multiple years.
Please stay tuned for a celebration of this open space preservation effort this spring. We are excited to share the property with you and to recognize and celebrate the many people who helped make this preservation effort a success!