Sixty acres of rolling fields, wetlands and woodlands, home to Thorncroft Equestrian Center, will remain in its present state forever, thanks to a collaboration between the Trust, Thorncroft and numerous public and private funders. Nearly $2 million in grants and donations were secured to purchase the conservation easements, with Chester County and the PA. Departments of Community and Economic Development and Conservation and Natural Resources providing $803,000.
Private foundations and donations closed the gap and the easements were signed on April 26 at the Farm, which is the original homestead of Thorncroft founder and Director, Saunders Dixon. Saunders and his wife, Sallie, who serves as Director of Operations, initiated the project by donating an easement on their 10-acre parcel in 2010, which lies in the middle of the Thorncroft lands.
In addition to the open space preservation, a half-mile non-motorized public trail will provide a safe off-road route for horses, bicyclists and pedestrians, linking three farms, two preserves, two parks and municipal open space. The Trust, founded in 1967 and Thorncroft in 1969, both strive to enhance the quality of life for able-bodied and disabled people through their respective land protection initiatives and therapeutic horseback riding programs. Their missions converged through this project, with the land that supports the therapy horses conserved in perpetuity, enabling the growth of their valuable services.
Trust Conservation Director Pam Brown noted that “this is one of the most rewarding projects I have been involved in since I began working for the Trust in 2004. Not only is the land beautiful and environmentally sensitive, the services that Thorncroft provides are extraordinary. All you have to do is see one disabled person’s smile as they are carried down the trail into the woods by a therapy horse, and you are instantly engaged.”