‘We Went Out on a Limb on This One’: One of the Region’s Most Ambitious Conservation Projects Now Complete

Image via Natural Lands.
Bryn Coed Farms.

Four years after Natural Lands purchased the 1,505-acre Bryn Coed Farms — then the largest remaining unprotected swath of land in the Philadelphia area — the final piece of the property has been permanently conserved. In one of the most ambitious conservation projects in recent history, the entirety of the land is now forever protected from development.

“I’m thrilled that we’ve reached this milestone — the final lot sale — which marks the successful conclusion to this ambitious land protection project,” said Natural Lands President Oliver Bass. “Saving Bryn Coed was the chance of a lifetime, but it required a tremendous amount of work — and a tireless community of supporters. We’re forever grateful to our generous funders, forward-thinking elected officials, and talented land protection team. We went out on a limb on this one, and it was so worth it.”

In the 1970s, the Dietrich brothers assembled the vast acreage known as Bryn Coed Farms one parcel at a time. One of these tracts was the former homestead of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Owen J. Roberts, who named his farm “Bryn Coed,” which means “wooded hill” in Welsh.

Many worried over the fate of the pristine farmland and forests as development pressures increased in the region. Concerns mounted when, in 2003, the Dietrich brothers decided to divest themselves of Bryn Coed Farms. Under township zoning, nearly 700 homes could have been constructed there.

In 2016, Natural Lands — the region’s oldest and largest land conservation nonprofit — signed an agreement with the Dietrich family to purchase the entire 1,505 acres for preservation. They created a 520-acre nature preserve at the heart of the property with more than 10 miles of trails. Bryn Coed Preserve is open, free of charge, to all. Visitors flock to the preserve in all seasons.

Natural Lands protected the remainder of the property by selling large parcels to conservation buyers, all of whom agreed to land protection agreements that permanently restrict development. Additionally, Natural Lands sold West Vincent Township the 72 acres that are now a public park adjacent to the preserve.

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