Collaboration between the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Montgomery County, Natural Lands, Montgomery County Lands Trust (MCLT), Limerick Township, and other stakeholders ensured the preservation of over 80 acres of open space in Montgomery County. Adjacent to both state game land and Limerick Community Park, this parcel (known as the Kurylo property) includes meadows and forests, water sources, and opportunities for recreation. This project connects to Stone Hill, an existing 800-acre greenway through Limerick and Lower Frederick Townships. Stone Hill ties into the proposed Swamp Creek Greenway, which is slated to tie into the Perkiomen Trail. When fully constructed, this network will offer a direct connection to central Montgomery County and the larger Schuylkill River Trail.
The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) funded the project with an Environmental Stewardship Fund (ESF) grant. DCNR had a particular stake in the property’s acquisition due to its location within the larger Schuylkill Highlands Conservation Landscape Initiative.
“The Schuylkill Highlands Conservation Landscape initiative is a DCNR program working with land conservation partners, locally driven planning, and community economic revitalization efforts that are tied to the protection of our natural resources and cultural assets,” stated former DCNR Secretary Michael DiBerardinis. “Among the goals in the Schuylkill Highlands are to protect 50 percent of the remaining undeveloped land, and to provide more opportunities to connect residents and visitors to the outdoors. This project helps us meet those goals.”
Each year the Green Futures program honors local communities for their outstanding achievements and efforts demonstrating exemplary land protection, effective partnerships, and visionary open space projects. MCLT awarded Limerick Township a Green Futures Achievement Award for the project because of its recognition of the property’s value and aggressive stance to protect it from development.
With help from matching state grants, Montgomery County is successfully building a multi-municipal greenway. In 2003, by a majority of 77 percent, voters passed a major referendum supporting land conservation in their county. This referendum created the Green Fields/Green Towns Program, which has since preserved 3,440 acres and facilitated 93 municipal open space projects in 60 of the county’s 62 municipalities. By supplementing Montgomery County grants with matching ESF funds, the program is a shining example of how multi-source funding can preserve valuable properties and create large contiguous blocks of open space.