Chester County Commissioners Marian Moskowitz, Josh Maxwell, and Michelle Kichline – along with leaders of the county’s Planning Commission and Parks + Preservation – are hosting the annual Open Space Summit on Thursday, April 29.
The Summit includes a report on Chester County’s 2020 open space preservation achievements and ongoing commitment to the program and will take place via Zoom from 6:30-8 PM.
“Throughout this pandemic, Chester County’s protected open spaces have been a haven for thousands of people to safely visit and enjoy and have helped to not only improve our physical health, but provide a remedy for our emotional and mental well-being too,” said Moskowitz.
“Anyone who wants to find out more about the true value of preserving open space in Chester County, and how their own local community can contribute, should ‘attend’ the summit.”
Each year, the Chester County Planning Commission inventories and maps all protected open space in the county through its Protected Open Space Tracking (POST) system. Last year, it was reported that a total of 142,000 acres of open space, or 29.3 percent of the county was protected over the course of 2019. This year, the findings indicate that the addition of 2,100 acres protected in 2020 brings Chester County to 144,000 acres of open space, or 29.7 percent of the county’s land.
“We are inching closer to Chester County’s current goal of 32 percent protected open space, which is amazing,” said Maxwell. “The benefits of our 32-year commitment to preserving our fields, forests, and farms have increased the quality of life for all of us – environmentally and economically – way beyond what was imagined back in 1989, when the program began.”
The 2021 Open Space Summit will provide an overview of preserved land data, followed by presentations about what Chester County’s towns and townships can do to protect open space within their own communities. Topics will include information on open space tools (implementing zoning ordinances and other programs), as well as outreach.
A Q&A session – along with break-out group discussions about Municipal Open Space Funds, Agricultural Preservation, and Conservation Tools – will conclude the summit.
“A key part of the success of Chester County’s open space program is partnership, especially with our many conservancies and our municipalities,” said Kichline. “As we look to expand the network of protected open space, we will focus on connecting larger expanses of preserved lands and ensuring that protected open space and working lands are appropriately managed. These actions will help us to meet environmental goals and contribute to the continued health and well-being of everyone who chooses Chester County as their home.”