Message from Oliver Bass, president of Natural Lands.

Dear friends of Natural Lands,

As we adhere to public orders regarding physical distancing and self-isolation, I am reminded of the appreciation that astronaut Scott Kelly—who spent a year in space—shared when asked what he missed most during his mission. It turns out it was the simple pleasures associated with time outside and in nature: the sun on his face, the smell of soil, the whisk of wind, and birdsong.

While our isolation is less extreme than Scott Kelly’s, people are eager nonetheless to get out of their “capsules.” Thanks in large part to the support that we receive from members, Natural Lands is gratified to be in a position to make the simple pleasures to which Scott Kelly referred—plus many, many more—available via 120 miles of trails at 43 preserves that, when used properly, are ready-made for physical distancing and remain open to the public.

I doubt it will surprise you that Natural Lands preserves are being utilized and loved by people more eager than ever to escape, exercise, unwind, and recharge. Here is just some of what we are hearing daily now from grateful visitors—all appreciations that belong in the hands of generous friends, like many of you, who make our conservation efforts possible:

  • “I took a walk at Hildacy Preserve on Saturday morning. Hearing the babbling creek, seeing the signs of spring … it was the first time I’ve relaxed in weeks. Thank you SO much for keeping your preserves open!” 
  • “I went hiking with my dog at Green Hills Preserve on Sunday! The Natural Lands preserves have become some of our favorite places to hike. Always beautiful and well-maintained, and the trails are so well-marked!” 
  • “I go to Binky Lee Preserve most frequently, but also to Bryn Coed Preserve. My dogs, husband, and I get so much from being out in nature and recharging. It’s a beautiful and necessary way to maintain health and well-being. Thank you for giving us the gift of nature.” 
  • “I am so grateful that Natural Lands is allowing people to enjoy their properties at this difficult time. My walks at Hildacy Preserve have been providing me with physical fitness, mental refreshment, and spiritual nourishment! THANK YOU!” 
  • “I’m a regular member, but you are saving my sanity during this COVID-19 time, so I wanted to make sure you knew how much I appreciate you.”
  • “As a member I am excited to see new faces on the trail and hope they all will donate to support these beautiful open spaces! Thank you for being the rainbow in our cloud!”

With respect to that last point, we too are pleased to be seeing new faces on the trail. In fact, I am hopeful that, when these difficult days are over, we will find that we as a society come away with a heightened appreciation for efforts like Natural Lands’ to save open space, care for nature, and connect people to the outdoors. I am confident that many preserve visitors will look back on this time and recall the hikes they took with their children at Stroud and Binky Lee, the sunrise runs they experienced at ChesLen and Green Hills, the Bald Eagles they saw nesting—and then hatching!—at Bryn Coed, the emerging spring ephemerals along streams at Hildacy, Saunders Woods, and Crow’s Nest, and the woodland bird species that offered their serenade at Sadsbury Woods. Those visitors will know that, when they needed it most, nature offered solace, relief, and even moments of joy.

All of which leads me to a final invitation and encouragement. It’s the weekend, so I hope you will make time to stretch your legs and spread your own wings, whether at one of our preserves, in your neighborhood, or in your own backyard. Trees are budding and blooming, 3.5 billion birds are making their way north, and daylight hours are expanding. Feel the sunshine—or the rain, if you are hearty—on your face. It’s simple. It’s safe. It’s healthy.

Everyone at Natural Lands appreciates your support, involvement, and care. Stay safe and be well.