North Coventry Township’s Coventry Woods Preserve has grown steadily since the first property was purchased in the 1960’s. The newest acquisition will increase the preserve’s total area to 622 acres. The preserve is located at the eastern edge of the Hopewell Big Woods landscape, which includes 15,000 contiguous acres of forest recognized as the only viable example of high quality forest block in southeastern Pennsylvania. Its lush resources have served the township well, inspiring a culture of outdoor recreation that draws visitors from around the region.
In 2002 North Coventry Township passed a referendum by an overwhelming 77% vote to include a marginal open space fee in the annual earned income tax. With the assistance of Natural Lands Trust and Chester County, the Township developed a strategic plan for preservation objectives and revised its ordinances to implement a Conservation by Design approach. These steps have been instrumental in providing matching funds for several key Community Conservation Partnership Program (C2P2) grants–which are funded by Growing Greener–and the Chester County Municipal Grant Program.
In 2009, C2P2 funded two acquisitions which will add approximately 208 acres to the current preserve. The first of these, known as the Bentley acquisition, adds 115 acres (approximately 25 acres agricultural and the remainder natural woodlands on both sides of the exceptional value Rock Run tributary of French Creek). It is located off Jones Road in North Coventry, South Coventry, and Warwick Townships, and will be available for passive recreation, open space, and stream protection. The second purchase, the Hill School parcel, will add 93 acres along Camp Hill Road at Rock Run in North Coventry and Warwick townships for habitat and stream protection.
In 2007, the township received half of the costs from DCNR for the of a 53-acre parcel just off Jones Road. The property, known as the Baker acquisition, contains mature woodlands and supports diverse habitat for several Audubon-designated Important Birds and Mammals. An old logging road creates an accessible footpath with minimal disturbance to the landscape.
“North Coventry is lucky that portions of the land purchased have existing logging roads on them which will easily be converted to woodland trails,” says Kevin Hennessey, Township Manager. “We are in the process of marking these trails and then opening them for recreational use.” Had it not been preserved, this land would very likely have been developed.