Students join the effort to preserve valuable resources in West Pikeland.
Chester Springs, PA – April 20th 2012 – Work has begun on the New Pickering Creek Trail in West Pikeland. As part of that effort, on Friday April 20th, sixth grade students from the Montgomery School helped to plant over 200 trees along Pickering Creek as part of a riparian buffer restoration project. The preservation project was developed through the work of the West Pikeland Land Trust (WPLT), with a grant provided by The Marjorie L. & Arthur P. Miller, Jr. Fund, a fund of the Chester County Community Foundation, West Pikeland Township’s Open Space Fund and Chester County’s Preservation Partnership Program. The project preserves 14 acres owned by Charles and Alyssa White, which were put into a conservation easement held by Natural Lands Trust that will allow public access to Pickering Creek. This segment is part of WPLT’s mission to create a community-supported “Open Space Network” of preserved public and private land that connects trails, parks, historic sites and recreational areas. The White property is adjacent to the Township’s Pickering Grove Park and also links on its eastern corner to Natural Lands Trust’s Binky Lee Preserve, also a partner in this project. A ribbon cutting for the trail will occur this summer.
In the current economic environment, township budgets everywhere are stressed. The West Pikeland Land Trust has been working with township officials to make the most of every dollar available. “I am appreciative of West Pikeland Land Trust’s dedication and commitment to our community over the years. At a time when the township is under budget constraints, West Pikeland Land Trust’s use of its funds to enhance the recreational activities of our residents is an invaluable service,” said Dr. Richard Bright, member of the West Pikeland Board of Supervisors. “Further, by utilizing the private resources provided by the Majorie L. and Arthur P. Miller, Jr. Fund they were able to maximize the scope of the project,” he added.
WPLT purchased 200 small trees and a dozen six foot trees for planting in strategic locations to help prevent erosion along the banks of the creek, which has been designated as a high quality stream by the PA Department of Environmental Protection. The project provided a valuable learning opportunity for David Kline’s 6th grade class at The Montgomery School. “As part of our involvement with Sustainable Watersheds PEAS (Programs for Environmental Awareness and Sustainability), we are always looking for ways to immerse students in an issue of environmental sustainability,” explained Mr. Kline. “We teach them the background story and science involved, give them a problem to solve, and challenge them to come up with solutions.” The Sustainable Watershed PEAS is one of several programs that were developed to raise awareness in students of environmental issues and empower them to become the conservation leaders and problem solvers in their communities.
The students have also been learning about Brook Trout (PA’s State Fish) and what their needs are for survival. This “Trout in the Classroom” project is in cooperation with the Valley Forge Chapter of Trout Unlimited, and included raising 272 Brook Trout from eyed eggs in a classroom tank. The students released the last 78 of the fingerlings into the stream a few days before the tree-planting project. “These projects give students a chance to understand an organism that lives in the creek that they learn to care about and want to protect,” said Kline. “Raising trout provides a real world context for students to recognize their impact, roles and responsibilities in preserving and protecting our local watersheds. We encourage our students to become stewards of the Pickering Creek and we participate in annual monitoring to insure that our local watershed is maintaining its health,” he added.
Every 6th grade class goes through some incarnation of this program. Two years ago the 5th graders piloted the Full PEAS Watershed Program and participated in a Tree Planting Project at Pickering Grove Park – across the stream from Friday’s tree planting project. Curt Grogan, president of the West Pikeland Land Trust, is thrilled to have the students participate. “We really appreciate the help,” Grogan said, “but most of all we value the lessons the students are learning about conservation. Projects like this are planting the seeds of environmental concern and involvement that will benefit our community in the years to come.” As a neighbor of the property’s owners, Grogan was instrumental in Alyssa and Charles White’s decision to create the conservation easement. “We were impressed with the work that WPLT did with other Township properties,” said Alyssa, “and we are proud that our decision will preserve the beauty we enjoy today for future generations. Seeing the kids take part in the tree planting re-affirms that we made the right decision.”
About West Pikeland Land Trust
The West Pikeland Land Trust is an all-volunteer registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to preserving land by assisting landowners and West Pikeland Township in land use decisions; promoting conservation of open space, water resources, and historic places through education and community outreach; and protecting land by accepting and holding donated or purchased easements and monitoring for compliance. WPLT’s work is supported primarily through private donations. For more information, visit www.wplandtrust.org.
About the Montgomery School
Montgomery School is an independent, co-educational day school serving pre-school through grade eight in Chester Springs, PA. The School is dedicated to the development of each child in mind and body through academics, fine and performing arts, and athletics in an enriching cultural and physical environment. The School is equally committed to the development of each child’s character, with an emphasis on integrity, respect, responsibility, and service to others. To learn more, visit: www.MontgomerySchool.org.
Montgomery School’s participation in the Trout In the Classroom program is made possible through funding provided by the PA Fish and Boat Commission, PA Trout Unlimited and PA Department of Education environment ecology. Brook trout eggs, trout food, technical assistance and educational support is provided by PA Fish and Boat Commission and PA Trout Unlimited.