Scrapbook Photo 12/05/21 - 45 New Stories - REAL Environmental & Conservation Leadership In PA:
Wissahickon Valley Watershed Assn. Preserves Open Space In Montgomery County

Since 1957, the Wissahickon Valley Watershed Association has worked to protect and preserve ecologically sensitive properties around the Wissahickon Creek in order to improve water quality and to address the dangers of flooding.

Today, the work continues with the acquisition of its newest parcel of open space, the Byrne Family Preserve, made possible by a generous donation by Dr. Robert Byrne and his family.

(Photo: Rick Collier, WVWA Board Chair and Dr. Robert Byre.)

The Byrne Family Preserve is 16 acres of permanently preserved open space located along Welsh Road adjacent to Lower Gwynedd Township’s Oxford Park and at the headwaters of the Trewellyn Creek, a major tributary of the Wissahickon.

The property includes several acres of freshwater marsh, an extensive riparian corridor and the opportunity to restore a disappearing wildlife habitat. This preservation will serve as a model to demonstrate how suburban headwater properties should be managed.

In 2006, Lower Gwynedd Township identified the property in its Open Space Plan as a “high priority for preservation.” 

Stephen J. Paccione, Chairman of the Lower Gwynedd Township Board of Supervisors stated “this is a significant accomplishment for the Wissahickon Valley Watershed Association consistent with the Township’s continuing efforts to preserve and protect open space. It is a great example of how WVWA and a municipality can work together to improve the quality of life in our community.”

WVWA first reached out to Dr. Byrne in 2007. WVWA’s commitment to craft the best possible outcome for both the landowner and WVWA has been the hallmark of its success. Today almost 1,300 acres of natural, open space have been protected in perpetuity.

Purchased at a fraction of the market value, this preservation could only have been possible due to the generosity of the Byrne family. As a memorial and a promise to his daughter who passed away in 2014, Dr. Byrne ensured that her vision became a reality. 

The Byrne Family Preserve allows WVWA to continue habitat restoration and riparian repair so that there will home for area wildlife, native plants and vanishing birds of the watershed such as Yellow Warbler, Northern Oriole and Willow Flycatcher.

WVWA Executive Director Dennis O. Miranda said, “The generosity and commitment to conservation expressed by Dr. Robert Byrne was the driving force for the preservation of his farm. We are privileged and honored to be the recipient of this extraordinary landscape.”

In the coming months, WVWA will restore the natural habitat, wetlands and meadows, in addition to developing public hiking trails. While the work is being carried out, the preserve will be temporary closed to the public.

For more information on programs and activities, visit the Wissahickon Valley Watershed Association website.


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