Almost 150 local residents, paddling enthusiasts and local stakeholders attended one of the Brandywine Conservancy’s public meetings seeking feedback on a proposed Brandywine water trail. Held in Downingtown and Chadds Ford during the month of February, these informal gatherings sought input and suggestions on additional water trail amenities, put-ins, safety and privacy concerns, educational/stewardship opportunities and potential partnerships that the project may foster.

Water Trail Public meeting

Throughout 2019, the Brandywine Conservancy, along with the Chester County Planning Commission, will be carrying out a feasibility study for a 22-mile water trail. The proposed water trail will run along the Brandywine from the Coatesville (West Branch) and Downingtown (East Branch) areas to Brandywine Creek State Park, just north of Wilmington, Delaware. “[Water trails are] boat routes along waterways that are suitable for canoes and kayaks. Like conventional land-based trails, water trails are recreational corridors between specific locations that can highlight the natural and cultural history of an area,” said Stephen Kralik of the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission. Formal water trails also provide information to users about boat safety, stewardship and private versus public property, in addition to local information specific to that particular water trail through a number of promotional outlets, such as a trail maps and guides, trail signage, and a website. Water trails can also be positive contributors to local communities by providing economic stimulus and protecting valuable natural resources that are important to the quality of life of local residents.

Throughout the spring and summer, Brandywine’s project team will be assessing and evaluating current put-in locations (and exploring opportunities for additional locations), documenting current trail amenities (bathrooms, parking areas, etc.), soliciting input from creek users via an online survey, and talking with key stakeholders along the trail route. Such input will help guide the project team and its study advisory committee as they evaluate the proposed trail route and develop water trail recommendations for implementation over the coming years. The recommendations, along with a draft plan, will be made available and presented at a public meeting later this fall.

“As planning gets underway for a Brandywine water trail, we remember and celebrate that each water trail is unique and a reflection of Pennsylvania’s diverse geology, ecology and communities,” noted Kralik.

For future updates on this project, click here to visit the project webpage.