A View from Our Wine & Dine 2019 Table

Restoring Trexler Nature Preserve

The Lehigh Valley’s largest green space has something for everyone: rolling fields, tree-lined trails, even a clear and rushing creek. Lying just on the outskirts of more urban terrain, the Trexler Nature Preserve located in Schnecksville is a jewel in the crown of the community. Looking out over the undulating vistas painted in many shades of green is both peaceful and inspiring. The scenic views we are able to appreciate today come from a shared desire to steward this piece of pastoral beauty.

The March of the Invasives

The 1,108-acre parcel of land donated by General Harry C. Trexler has grown and changed dramatically through the decades. Initially, the view included fields and pastures used in local agriculture. When the land was handed over to Lehigh County in 1933, General Trexler’s vision for using the land as a preserve to protect elk, bison and white-tailed deer was put into place. After a time, the game was put into smaller enclosures, rather than being allowed to roam freely. From there, the vistas changed again. If you visited Trexler at this point, you would find tracts of land overgrown with invasive species of plants, specifically Autumn Olive. Today, things are looking much better: Trexler has grown into a nature preserve with robust offerings for all residents of the Lehigh Valley and beyond, providing community connection for hiking, biking, wildlife viewing, picnicking, educational program opportunities and more.

The Power of Partnerships on the Ground

So how was the land brought around to the public access we are familiar with today? Building upon the strong foundation of Wildlands’ giving community and working hand in hand with Lehigh County and the PA Game Commission, a detailed plan was laid out and enacted. Controlling the spread of the invasive plants is among the primary stewardship management practices for the natural restoration of the preserve, especially in the past decade. Invasive species out-compete and exclude local plants and animals in the environment, eventually leading to decreased biodiversity overall.

This most recent endeavor, dubbed a “meadow project, ” sought to eliminate 220 acres of invasive Autumn Olive by way of heavy machinery and prescribed burns. The final leg of the project was to encourage the growth of wildflowers – over 1500 pounds of native wildflower and grass seed mixes, to be exact – to fill the space left bare once the invasive plants had been removed.

Invasive Autumn Olive

Flowers & Feathers Abound!

Since the project began, native wildflowers such as Little Bluestem, Purple Coneflower, Wild Bergamot, and Broomsedge are blooming freely, creating a more vivid preserve than we’ve seen this century. Also, the success of several pairs of Kestrels on the preserve has been documented! These newcomers to Trexler Nature Preserve are making a home in restored meadow areas that lie adjacent to State Game Lands (SGL) 205. SGL 205 hosts the highest density of nesting American Kestrels of any other game land in the southeast region. In a recent banding exercise to monitor bird populations, it was discovered that all the kestrel boxes had fledglings! Science points to the burgeoning population of native wildflowers, grasses and pollinators being key factors in these grasslands becoming hospitable nesting areas for Kestrels and other species of birds.

With the lush, vibrant landscape returning to these protected acres that are so near and dear to the Lehigh Valley’s heart, Wildlands is choosing to set our table here for our 2019 Wine & Dine Farm-to-Table experience! Gathering on this site is a celebration of real open space, home to a valuable, diverse, community of native plants and animals. We are so looking forward to what will surely be a poetic combination of delicious flavors, good friends and the power and beauty of conservation and stewardship fully taking wing.