New trail opens in the Serpentine Barrens

Photo by Marcella Peyre-Ferry Opening Ceremonies include ( l to R) Friends of the State Line Serpentine Barrens volunteer Ruth Galantino, Friends Board Member Bob Gray, Friends Board Member David Ross, Friends Board Member Anna Hull, Friends Acting Chairman Henry Whitesel, PA Parks and Forest Foundation President Marci Mowery, and Nature Conservancy Volunteer Program Manager Molly Anderson holding daughter Addie.

By MARCELLA PEYRE-FERRY For 21st Century Media

ELK - Walkers can enjoy the beauty of a rare environment and get some exercise at the same time in the Chrome Serpentine Barrens. On Sunday, Sept. 8, officials and Friends of the State Line Serpentine Barrens gathered for the opening of a new trail off Barren Road.

'We have one brand new mile and a half trail and two that have been improved and marked to be easier to follow,' explained Friends Board Member Bob Gray.

The new trail brings the total to three options for walkers ranging from one to three miles. the trails are open to hiking, horseback riding,, and bicycling. Motorized vehicles, fire, camping and use of fire arms without a permit are prohibited.

The creation of the new trail, located on the opposite side of Barren Rd., and the upgrading of the two existing trails was a cooperative effort of many agencies including Elk Township, The Nature Conservancy, Brandywine Conservancy, Friends of the State Line Serpentine Barrens, and AmeriCorps.

'This is particularly significant because this represents Elk Township's purchases of development rights to permanently preserve this land,' Gray said. 'Even though some are in private hands, the development rights have been purchased so they will remain wild forever and additionally the trial easement has been created so that the trail can be permanently in place on these private lands.'

'This is permanent green space for everyone in the township. There's some particularly significant grasslands,' Gray said. 'We hope people will be curious about what's there and this unique ecosystem.'

The Barrens already have supporters in the form of the Friends of the State Line Serpentine Barrens, who work to help preserve areas like this one. In addition to the Chrome Serpentine Barrens there are also preserved areas in nearby Chester County, Lancaster County and Maryland.

'There are countless hours of volunteer time that allow this to happen,' Gray said. 'All these barrens are a collaboration of pub and private interests.'

On the township's side, members of the board of supervisors did some of the work themselves to create the new trail that is named Pal's trail in honor of Palmer Durborrow.

Serpentine barrens are rare ecosystems growing in areas where outcroppings of serpentine rock where the thin soil layer makes existence difficult for typical plants. Plants and insects that are rare for this area grown in the grasslands including serpentine aster, long-haired barrens chickweed, glade spurge, fameflower, arrowfeather and more.

'There are several plants that are extremely rare in here,' , Friends Acting Chairman Henry Whitesel said. 'These are beautiful walks in the woods. I highly recommend it.'

The Friends hold regular workdays to keep the trails in the various Barrens sites in shape and eliminate invasive plants. The group will also hold an ecology hike on Sunday, Oct. 6, at 1 p.m., at the Goat Hill Barrens .

For more information check the Elk Township website at www.elktownship.org or the Friend so the State Line Barrens site at statelineserpentinebarrens.org .

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