News release shared by Natural Lands, May 14, 2024. Photo courtesy of Natural Lands. 

Nearly 22 acres of forested land in Lower Frederick and Limerick Townships, Montgomery County, are preserved forever thanks to the efforts of longtime conservation advocate Phil Smith.

The Smith property, now protected with a conservation easement held by Natural Lands, can be viewed from both Gerloff and South Ryanford Roads and contributes to the scenic, wooded beauty of the area. The land is directly adjacent to 38 acres of open space owned by Limerick Township, which itself is connected to 486 acres of State Game Lands, 52 acres of open space owned by Lower Frederick Township, and Natural Lands’ 101-acre Meng Preserve. Collectively, this region is known as the Stone Hill Conservation Landscape, an expanse of nearly 7,000 forested, boulder-strewn acres that are essential habitat for myriad plants, animals, and insects.

Phil Smith is an open space, trails, and historic preservation advocate who has long worked to advance open space protection and trail development in Western Montgomery County. In fact, Mr. Smith received a Planning Advocate Award from Montgomery County for his lifelong advocacy for open space preservation through civil leadership and personal generosity. Phil and his wife, Gail Gosser-Smith, acquired the property with the intention of placing a conservation easement on it.

“It is my firm belief that the planet is in crisis and, equally, it’s my firm belief that everyone can contribute towards conserving our earth’s natural environment,” said Phil Smith. “Why we chose to conserve our land is best explained by mis-quoting Henry David Thoreau: ‘In wilderness is the preservation of the world.’”

Mr. Smith added, “The finalization of this conservation easement enables me to further contribute to a better future for the Earth and those creatures that inhabit it.”

Phil Smith was a tireless advocate for the land now known as the Meng Preserve, which became part of Natural Lands’ network of nature preserves in 2019. Phil contributed his time to write grant proposals to acquire additional property surrounding the 101-acre preserve and donated an adjacent 6.5-acre parcel to add to Meng Preserve. He is also an active preserve volunteer.

“I can’t overstate the importance of preserving wooded land like the Smith property,” said Jack Stefferud, senior director of land protection for Natural Lands. “In addition to the habitat it offers for wildlife, forested land helps moderate extreme temperatures as our climate warms, improves groundwater supplies, and cleans the air we all breathe. We are so grateful to Phil and Gail for recognizing all this and for being such champions for open space preservation.”

Funding for this project came from the Smith family and an anonymous donor.

Natural Lands is dedicated to preserving and nurturing nature’s wonders while creating opportunities for joy and discovery in the outdoors for everyone.  As the Greater Philadelphia region’s oldest and largest land conservation organization, Natural Lands—which is member supported—has preserved more than 135,000 acres, including 40+ nature preserves and one public garden totaling more than 23,000 acres. Nearly five million people live within five miles of land under the organization’s protection. Land for life, nature for all.

Please note: “Natural Lands” is the organization’s official operating name and should be used instead of its legal designation (Natural Lands Trust, Inc.).

Media Inquiries:

Kit Werner, Senior Director of Communications
610-353-5587 ext. 267