OSI funding helps turn property slated for development into a nature preserve

ROBESON TOWNSHIP, PA — July 31, 2012 — Using a loan from OSI’s Bayshore-Highlands Land Protection Fund, the Natural Lands Trust (NLT) has preserved 168 acres in Robeson Township in Berks County, Pennsylvania. The property, now known as Green Hills Preserve, provides important habitat for wildlife including a species considered to be critically endangered, the highest risk category assigned for wild species.

The property, originally slated for a high-density development, went into foreclosure in 2009. After more than two years working to piece together funding, NLT was able to purchase and protect the property.

OSI’s Bayshore-Highlands Fund supports the conservation of important ecological, watershed, recreational and agricultural lands in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. A $929,000 bridge loan from the fund allowed NLT to meet a strict closing deadline and complete the project, even when another funding source dropped out late in the negotiations.

“OSI is very pleased to have been able to assist in the preservation of this significant property which protects habitat for endangered wildlife and the headwaters of the Allegheny Creek,” said Peter Howell, OSI’s executive vice president. “This project is an example of NLT’s great work in assembling an impressive group of funding partners and stakeholders.”

The property features gently rolling agricultural fields, woodlands, and wetlands. Allegheny Creek, a Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection-designated “Cold Water Fishery” stream and a direct tributary to the Schuylkill River, bisects the newly established preserve. 

The site will also be planted in warm-season grasses, which will provide habitat for threatened grassland birds such as the bobolink and meadowlarks.

Green Hills Preserve is situated within the Schuylkill Highlands, a region at the nexus of two landscapes that have been prioritized for protection: the Highlands and the Schuylkill River watershed. The area’s importance derives from the need for water quality protection, habitat conservation, and recreational development in a region set for considerable growth over the next 20 years.

Like many of NLT’s other nature preserves throughout the region, Green Hills Preserve eventually will be open—free-of-charge—to visitors for passive recreation once a hiking trail system has been established and a parking area is built.  

Additional funders for the project included the Berks County Conservancy, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Schuylkill River National and State Heritage Area, Southern Berks Land Company, Susquehanna Bank, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Virginia Cretella Mars Foundation, and the Wyomissing Foundation.

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