Wildlands Permanently Protects 60+ acres in the Lehigh Valley

Acquired Lands Establish a New Nature Preserve and Expand South Mountain Preserve

In late August 2019, Wildlands Conservancy permanently protected more than 60 acres in the Lehigh Valley. The greater part of this acreage will become a new nature preserve in Lower Macungie Township, while the balance expands Wildlands’ Emmaus-based South Mountain Preserve in Upper Saucon Township.

“If ever there was a time to be in what we call ‘the forever business’, it’s now,” says Christopher Kocher, president of Wildlands. “Our Lehigh Valley is losing open space at an alarming rate. There’s an urgency to protect all we can while we can, because land is life. Protecting it is vital to having clean air, healthy water and livable communities.”

43+ Acres = New Nature Preserve in Lower Macungie Township, Lehigh County

 These 43+ forested acres are adjacent to Wildlands’ 11-acre Reimert Memorial Bird Haven, a bird watching hotspot considered to harbor several species of concern.  These permanently protected lands enable the planned establishment of a nature preserve within an ever-urbanizing Lehigh Valley.

Key to realizing this acquisition and, ultimately, a future nature preserve, was the vision and generosity of longtime supporters, Merrill and Nancy Brenner.

Annual fund contributors for more than 20 years, volunteers for a decade, and donors of a conservation easement, the couple also wanted to leave a public preserve legacy.

“Nancy and I have always appreciated the natural environment, including the remaining forests and open spaces in the Lehigh Valley, and have long wanted to conserve land for future generations,” says Merrill Brenner. “We are grateful for all that Wildlands does to protect such lands–improving our water and air and providing access to nature–and to inspire conservation values. We are very excited to add to the land resources that Wildlands protects and provides for the people of the Lehigh River watershed. We hope that others will also find opportunities to volunteer, donate, or otherwise help to ensure the continual protection of the natural beauty of the area.”

Passionate Supporters with a Vision to Protect Land

“Merrill and Nancy are truly set apart in the way that they embody every aspect of our conservation and education mission. And now, to be able to fulfill their shared passion for land in their lifetimes – well the words ‘thank you’ hardly seem to suffice when it comes to expressing our gratitude for their visionary investment and contribution to expanding our preserve network,” says Kocher.

Along with the Brenners, Wildlands also acknowledges the support of its greater giving community, especially the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, for funding the acquisition of this property from and in cooperation with the Wertman family.

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18+ Acres Expand South Mountain in Upper Saucon Township, Lehigh County

These 18+ forested acres expand Wildlands’ 360-acre South Mountain Preserve, one of the most important natural areas in the Lehigh Valley, and leverage future acquisition plans within this critical landscape.

The woodland habitat tract is situated on steep slopes, and its northwest boundary approaches the peak of the ridge.

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About South Mountain

South Mountain is among Wildlands’ first land acquisitions, dating back to 1976. The preserve helped set in motion the permanent protection of more than 55,000 acres throughout the Lehigh Valley and Lehigh River watershed. It stands today as one of nine nature preserves owned and managed by the land trust – a locally storied property among an inventory that is presently growing. South Mountain boasts woodland trails, pronounced rocky outcroppings and unique vistas in an otherwise developed landscape. It is considered part of the 750-acre Robert Rodale Reserve.

Wildlands acknowledges the support of its giving community, especially the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and Upper Saucon Township, along with private donations, for funding the acquisition of this property from and in cooperation with the Rickert family.