Chestnut Grove Natural Area
In June 2015, LCSWMA opened the Chestnut Grove Natural Area (CGNA). Located in Manor Township, the 170-acre site is comprised of 25 acres of wetlands, 85 acres of grasslands and wildflower meadows and 60 acres of forest. LCSWMA invested $1.2 million and over four years of time and professional resources into restoring this property to its native ecosystem and enhancing local wildlife habitat.
Over 4.5 miles of pedestrian and equestrian trails showcase the diverse landscape with connectors to larger, regional trail systems such as the Turkey Hill Trail and Enola Low Grade Rail Trail. Our vision for this site is to provide passive recreational opportunities for residents and visitors.
The CGNA was previously a dairy farm and agriculture site. LCSWMA purchased the property in 2000. From 2011-2012, close to one million cubic yards of subsoil was removed from 86.4 acres of the site. The soil was stockpiled and will be used for a vertical expansion of the Frey Farm Landfill.
Planning and Restoration Process
In 2010, LCSWMA began meeting with the Open Space Committee, a group comprised of representatives from Manor Township, the Lancaster County Conservancy and local residents, to strategize how the property would be used following the sorrow borrow project. LCSWMA engaged an ecological consultant to work with the Open Space Committee to develop a Master Plan for restoring the site to a native habitat area.
In 2012, LCSWMA hired LandStudies to begin the native habitat restoration process. For four years, the CGNA underwent intense ecological renewal efforts, including the planting of 4,300 native trees and shrubs and 85 acres of grasslands and wildflower meadows, as well as extensive invasive species control.
LCSWMA invested $1.2 million in the restoration of the CGNA, as well as significant staff time and professional resources to stabilize and transform the site into a nature preserve for all to enjoy.
A network of 13 trails showcase different features of the property, including wetlands, meadows, woods and the River Hills. Trail surfaces are either mowed grass, dirt or gravel. The majority of trails are rated easy-to-moderate, with two trails rated as difficult. For more information on the trail system, click here.
Five interpretive panels placed throughout the property educate visitors about the 1) ecological restoration of the site, 2) wildlife, 3) wetland ecosystem, 4) grassland ecosystem and the 5) American chestnut tree.
A 135 ft. long, 8 ft. wide wetland boardwalk allows visitors to experience the unique ecosystem of the wetland area and get an up close and personal look at this critical habitat.
The property also features a two-acre plot that serves as a nursery to grow American chestnut trees to produce seeds and pollen that can be used for research. In collaboration with the Pennsylvania Chapter of the American Chestnut Foundation, the goal of this tree nursery is to preserve local chestnut genetics from throughout Pennsylvania for use in breeding and research for the next 50 years.
The CGNA is an ideal place to view wildlife and observe nature due to the habitat diversity, which includes stream corridors, wetlands, open water, grasslands and forested uplands, as well as its location in a migratory corridor. Many species of wildlife use the Susquehanna River as a travel zone and when they need a rest, it’s easy for them to fly off of the river and stop at the CGNA for food and shelter.
A variety of wildlife call the CGNA area home, including: bald eagles, Eastern red fox, snow geese, white-tailed deer, red winged blackbird, red spotted newt and more.
Hours of Operation, Parking Information and Directions
The CGNA is located at 37 Chestnut Grove Road in Conestoga and is open from dawn until dusk. The nature preserve welcomes hikers, horseback riders and leashed dogs. Motorized vehicles, alcoholic beverages and hunting are prohibited on site.
Two lots are provided for visitor parking. The equestrian lot features five spaces, and is located off of River Road, approximately a half mile from the Frey Farm Landfill. The main parking area features 20 spaces and is located off of Chestnut Grove Road, approximately 0.7 miles from the Frey Farm Landfill.
Chestnut Grove Natural Area