For local nature lovers, more land to enjoy

Kennett Township>> At the 82-acre Stateline Woods Preserve, there are activities such as hiking trails, biking trails, horseback riding, bird watching and even cross-country skiing. And on Friday afternoon, June 23, there will be three more acres of land for nature lovers to enjoy.

The Land Conservancy for Southern Chester County will announce the addition of three acres to the 82-acre Stateline Woods Preserve this afternoon.

Usually during this time of year The Land Conservancy celebrates the Summer Solstice but with the addition of the land they have decided to hold a ribbon-cutting event for the new Lee Woods instead. The three acres obtained from the Lee family will serve as a second entrance to the larger 400-acre Stateline Woods Conservation Preserve.

The Stateline Woods Conservation was started in 1985 by concerned citizens in the area, gained its first employee in 2004 and will be proudly announcing a total of 1,000 protected acres by the end of next month.

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TLC focuses on threatened properties. Constantly eyeing land surrounding their current protected acreage and watching for when it goes up for sale. Their mission statement is comprised of four tenants: land conservation, historic conservation, management of land and education.

By acquiring land with grants from the township, county and state as well as donations from the public TLC can continue to grow its protected areas and provide pristine nature trails and outdoor community activities, according to Gwen Lacy, executive director of The Land Conservancy of Southern Chester County.

This particular parcel of land was purchased with grant money from the Kennett Township Land Advisory Committee as well as money raised by Neighbors for a Nature Preserve.

This isn’t the first time Neighbors for a Nature Preserve has assisted TLC. The group of environmentally concerned locals has raised funds for a couple of other projects to keep their surrounding area beautiful and free of construction.

When they heard that the land for Lee Woods was available they were quick to start walking door to door to raise the funds needed to buy the three acres. Since the plot is smaller, TLC wouldn’t have been able to get grants from the county and state. Making it too expensive to purchase with their township grants alone.

But with the $50,000 raised by Neighbors for a Nature Preserve, the land was sold and named Lee Woods in honor of the family who owned it previously.

The land was owned by Kung Hsing and Susan Lee and their son Robert Lee has been the primary contact for the sale. The land has been in the Lee family since 1973.

“I was only 12 years old at the time and we used to go camping on the property,” said Robert Lee.

Robert Lee and his brother Raymond John Lee had fond childhood memories of the family camping grounds. Their names are carved in a beech tree on the property and will remain there as the family land becomes a part of the greater Stateline Woods Corridor.

Raymond John Lee was a doctor, born and raised in Delaware. He developed cancer at a young age and became the chief resident at the Christiana hospital. The hospital now has a wing named after him. The Lee’s see the conservation of this land as an honor to his memory.

Keeping the land as it was is a priority for the Lee family.

“We’re very happy to donate it to the Land Conservancy, because we’d like to keep it open and available for everyone to use,” said Robert Lee.

The family could have sold the land to developers for a higher price but the desire to keep the three acres free of housing or other construction enticed them to sell to TLC. Keeping the land in the family wouldn’t have guaranteed that future generations will have the same sentimental value for the parcel. So, the Lee’s decided the best way to keep the land as is was to give it to a nature preserve.

TLC, happy to have this addition plans to add trails to the area that will connect it with other portions of the nature preserve, Lacy said. The Lee Woods will also serve as a second entrance to the preserve, making it easier for the community to access the walking trails and events.

Those who go explore the Lee Woods will soon find bird boxes, educational programming, guided hikes and overnight camping events for kids. TLC is also considering adding the area to their annual trail run that happens in the spring.

The Stateline Woods preserve is open to the public dawn to dusk seven days a week. With various community events and activities TLC hopes to continue their work in preservation for the enjoyment of locals and the protection of the environment.