Open Space Preservation

We are committed to strategically protecting natural lands throughout the state of Delaware. Our unwavering focus on land preservation is driven by our understanding of the unique regional landscape and invaluable ecosystem services a healthy environment provides.

Throughout our history, we have partnered with the nation’s preeminent conservation organizations–such as The Conservation Fund and The Nature Conservancy–to preserve thousands of acres, including precious lands that became Delaware’s first national park.



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Over the past year, a collection of individual donors, community organizations, and private foundations–including Mt. Cuba Center–worked to conserve Passmore Farm, a 635-acre property in New Castle County featuring saltmarsh, upland forest, freshwater springs, and productive farmland. This property is adjacent to the 1,250-acre Taylors Bridge Roberts Farm property, which became a conservation success story in 2015 when Mt. Cuba Center, The Conservation Fund and Delaware Wild Lands partnered to protect it in perpetuity.

These land conservation efforts have created more than 10,000 acres of contiguous wildlife habitat in one of the most rapidly developing areas of the state, according to Delaware Wild Lands.

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The Conservation Fund, in partnership with Mt. Cuba Center and the Brandywine Conservancy, purchased the historic Beaver Valley property in Concord Township, Pennsylvania. Thanks to generous support from Mt. Cuba Center as well as other private contributions, the national environmental organization acquired the 270-acre property from the Woodlawn Trustees for permanent conservation as open space.

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In 2016, Mt. Cuba Center supported a collaborative conservation effort: The Chesapeake Conservancy’s Nanticoke River Conservation Corridor initiative, the goal of which is to create an 8,500-acre corridor of protected lands that will ultimately sustain the region’s high level of biodiversity. The initiative has become a premier example of large landscape conservation and collaboration on the east coast.

The Chesapeake Conservancy has built a collaborative atmosphere amongst all land conservation organizations working in the Nanticoke to protect the unique flora and fauna of the Nanticoke River watershed for current and future generations.

Mt. Cuba Center Board President, Ann Rose, recently accepted the Chesapeake Conservancy’s 2016 Philanthropic Champion award on behalf of Mt. Cuba Center.

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In 2015 we provided a grant to The Conservation Fund and Delaware Wild Lands to permanently protect and manage more than 10,000 acres of contiguous wildlife habitat. Known as the Roberts Farm, the site was one of the largest unprotected tracts remaining in the coastal zone, featuring freshwater tidal wetlands and remnants of forested coastal plain ponds. Delaware Wild Lands will develop a long-term management plan for the property that will include farming, hunting, trapping, wildlife tours, and bird walks. School and university groups will visit the property for research and educational opportunities.

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On March 25, 2013, President Obama designated the First State National Monument in Delaware, which had been the only state in the country without a national park site. After continuous effort, the monument was designated a National Historical Park in 2015. The Park includes three historic areas that tell the story of Delaware’s early settlement and its important role as the first state to ratify the Constitution: the Dover Green, the New Castle Court House complex, and a property in the Brandywine Valley known as Woodlawn.

Located three miles north of Wilmington, along the Brandywine River, the Woodlawn property has served as a wildlife preserve, urban park and recreation destination for the more than five million people who live within 25 miles. Of the property’s 1,100 acres, 880 are in Delaware, with the remainder in Pennsylvania.

William Penn originally acquired Rockland Manor, which included the Woodlawn property, from the Duke of York in 1682. Industrialist William Bancroft purchased the land in the 1900s, and the property has been maintained as open space all this time, even as development has encroached. Across the board, elected officials, including the Governor of Delaware, the Delaware and Pennsylvania congressional delegations, as well as the New Castle County Council, endorsed Woodlawn as a property worthy of national recognition.

The Conservation Fund purchased and protected the historic 1,100-acre Woodlawn property in 2012. The Woodlawn acquisition—made possible by a generous gift from Mt. Cuba Center and the desire of the property’s trustees to see the land protected for the public—galvanized a community ready for a national monument or park of its own. As the Fund discussed donating the Woodlawn property to the National Park Service, the community swelled with support. Hundreds turned out for a public hearing, over a thousand sent in support letters to congressional offices, and dozens more contributed to stories and editorials in favor of making Woodlawn a key part of a new national conservation land.

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