Hikers enjoy a walk along the entryway to a vital part of the northern Delaware trail system along the Brandywine Creek. The DNREC Division of Parks and Recreation worked with Woodlawn Trustees to purchase and preserve a parcel of land for public recreational use along this pathway. /DNREC photo
The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control joins the Woodlawn Trustees to announce their collaborative effort to preserve a parcel of land that provides entryway to a vital part of the northern Delaware trail system along the Brandywine Creek.
In conjunction with the Delaware Open Space Program, the DNREC Division of Parks and Recreation worked with Woodlawn Trustees to purchase and preserve the property, located along Rockland Falls Road in Rockland, which was for sale.
Purchase of the formally private property guarantees uninterrupted public access to the trail. The existing trail runs alongside Brandywine Creek and provides beautiful hiking access into Brandywine Creek State Park and the First State National Historical Park.
The acquisition adds 2.27 acres to the 407-acre forest block already preserved by the division on east side of the Brandywine River and expands Brandywine Creek State Park to a total of 894 acres. By protecting this portion of the woods, the division also eliminated the possible disruption of the historic viewshed from places like the scenic Hawk Watch vista and preserved the trail experience.
“This critical land acquisition is one of the last land holdings in the core of Brandywine Creek State Park that could have been developed. It eliminates vehicle access and the ability for structures to be built along a popular trail,” said DNREC Secretary Shawn M. Garvin. “Land stewardship is at the heart of the work both DNREC and Woodlawn Trustees do, and we are fortunate to have their continued partnership in land conservation.”
The collaborative effort between the state and Woodlawn Trustees dates to the early 1960s with the creation of Brandywine Creek State Park. In 1963, Woodlawn Trustees donated $200,000 to help DNREC and Delaware Nature Society acquire land for the Brandywine Creek State Park. DNREC matched Woodlawn’s donation and then purchased a 433-acre Dairy Farm owned by the du Pont family that became the state park, known for its old growth forest remnants, meadowland views and blue gneiss stone walls built in the late 1800s and early 1900s.
In 1981, the Woodlawn Trustees transferred 350 acres to the DNREC Division of Parks and Recreation, nearly doubling the size of the park. Woodlawn donated 125 acres of the land to DNREC, which received matching federal funding to buy the other half from Woodlawn.
The after-tax proceeds of the sale totaled $530,000, which Woodlawn Trustees used to create the Brandywine Creek Woodlawn Fund, a permanent endowment for the park. The Division of Parks and Recreation has utilized the fund, which was transferred to the Delaware Community Foundation in 2019, to support park operations, maintenance and security. That funding accounts for about 1/3 of the park’s annual operating budget each year.
“The preservation of the Rockland property highlights how DNREC and Woodlawn trustees are dedicated to partnering for the benefit of natural resources,” said Woodlawn Trustees President and CEO Richard T. Przywara. “This project enlarges and strengthens our shared vision of providing access to open space for hiking, cycling and horseback riding.”
As part of the purchase, Woodlawn Trustees will also contribute $10,000 to the Brandywine Creek State Park Fund at the Delaware Community Foundation.
For more information about the Woodlawn Trustees, visit https://woodlawntrustees.com.
The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control protects and manages the state’s natural resources, protects public health, provides outdoor recreational opportunities and educates Delawareans about the environment. The DNREC Division of Parks and Recreation oversees more than 26,000 acres in 17 state parks and the Brandywine Zoo. For more information, visit the website and connect with @DelawareDNREC on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.