The Wilma Quinlan Nature Preserve is a 26+ acre natural area located along the Neshaminy Creek that is owned and maintained by New Britain Borough. The woods and fields of the Preserve are set aside for habitat preservation and passive recreation. The Preserve’s numerous trails are intended for nature study, wildlife observation, and birding. The Preserve includes “Miriam’s Meadow” a 2.7 acre wildflower meadow on the former property of Miriam Groner, donated to New Britain Borough in 2005.
The main entrance to the Nature Preserve is located on Matthews Avenue. Matthews Avenue is closed to through traffic near the Preserve, however, it can be accessed using Sand Road off of Butler Avenue. Miriam’s Meadow is located along Landis Mill Road and can be accessed using Matthews Avenue or Aarons Avenue. There is an entrance to the Preserve on Landis Mill Road as well. It is an easy walk from SEPTA’s New Britain Train Station where the R5 Lansdale/Doylestown Line makes regular stops seven days a week.
The Nature Preserve is overseen and maintained by the appointed Nature Preserve Committee of borough residents. Borough volunteers also help maintain the Preserve on scheduled work days. Information on the Nature Preserve Committee’s meetings and members can be seen at the link below:Nature Preserve Directions and Map
The Nature Preserve can be accessed from either Butler Ave through Sand Rd. to Matthews Ave. or through Tamenend Ave down Aaron’s Ave to Landis Mill Rd.
A map of the Nature Preserve is currently under development, and will be posted here upon completion.
Nature Preserve Work Day
Posted September 19, 2016
The Nature Preserve has scheduled a Work Day on Saturday, October 8th from 9:00 AM to Noon to enhance the quality of the grounds. Volunteers are welcome! For more details please contact the New Britain Borough Administration Office at 215-348-4586 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jim Chant Land Donation
Posted February 12, 2016
The Nature Preserve and New Britain Borough thanks Jim and Phil Chant for their December 2015 donation of land to the Preserve!
“Stewardship” means taking an active role in caring for land to ensure a more promising future for people, plants and wildlife. Stewardship activities may include removing invasive plants from a forest and replanting with native species that improve habitat for wildlife; converting an old farm field into a native meadow to reduce erosion and attract rare songbirds and butterflies, or even removing a manmade pond dam to improve water quality and restore a species-rich wetland.
We all benefit from stewardship. Healthy forests, wetlands, meadows, and streams serve as “living filters” to improve air and water quality, lower greenhouse gases, and provide flood protection in a landscape that is increasingly losing these essential functions.
In 2007, the Natural Lands Trust was commissioned by New Britain Borough to provide a natural resource assessment and stewardship plan for the Nature Preserve. The Stewardship Plan produced by the NLT catalogs the existing environmental and ecological conditions and current management issues of the Preserve and serves as a guide for the future use and management goals set by the Borough’s Nature Preserve Committee. A 2014 Addendum to the Stewardship Plan focuses on management techniques for invasive plants in the Preserve.
The current stewardship priorities for the Nature Preserve include:
- Maintaining a safe and enjoyable environment for the passive recreation of borough residents.
- Protecting and enhancing existing plant communities to provide wildlife habitat for resident and migratory wildlife; and
- Protecting the water quality of the Neshaminy Creek and its tributaries that flow through the property.
The Wilma Quinlan Nature Preserve was established in 1971, after the 23.76 acre property then known as the Sidebotham Tract came up for sale. At the time, the Sidebotham Tract was the largest piece of undeveloped land left in New Britain Borough. To prevent the property from being developed for planned industrial or commercial use, a group of borough residents led by Mrs.Wilma Quinlan, then a member of the borough council, succeeded in raising the $60,400 needed to purchase the parcel. Almost the entire purchase price came from state and federal government grants and private donations; less than $3,000 was paid by the borough itself. In honor of Mrs. Quinlan’s tireless efforts, the preserve established on the tract was named in her honor.
In 2005, the Nature Preserve was expanded by three acres, when Dr. Miriam Groner, a botany professor at Bucknell and Penn State Universities who lived across the road from the Preserve, left her house, three acres, and much of her estate to New Britain Borough for the benefit of the Preserve. Her historic home, the Matthews-Groner house at the corner of Aarons and Landis Mill Roads, has been fully restored and is now rented out by the Borough. “Miriam’s Meadow,” a 2.7 acre wildflower meadow, has been established on Dr. Groner’s former property in her honor.
Dr. Groner had a vision that the Nature Preserve could be much more than it had been in the past and her generous donation has allowed for substantial improvements to the Preserve. Dr. Groner’s desire to facilitate the public’s appreciation of nature and nurture the Preserve’s habitat has energized community efforts to improve and expand the Preserve. The income from Dr. Groner’s endowment, leveraged where possible with matching funds, has enabled the Borough to pursue Dr. Groner’s dream without impacting the Borough budget.
Recently, the Nature Preserve was expanded again. Carol and Ken Miller, the wife and son of Larry Miller, a longtime and passionate supporter of the Preserve, made possible the acquisition of conservation easements and a right of way on nearly two acres of their property next to the Preserve. This acquisition allows the Preserve to extend across Cook’s Run Creek, allowing public access to Miller’s Point at the confluence of the Neshaminy Creek and Cook’s Run. This land crosses the remnants of the old mill race from Landis Mill, reputed to be the first saw mill in Bucks County. A few yards beyond the Miller property is a former site of a Lenni-Lenape Indian village and a former site of a tent encampment for the homeless that existed during the Great Depression.
In 2007, the Natural Lands Trust was commissioned by the Borough to provide a natural resource assessment and stewardship plan for the Nature Preserve. This Stewardship Plan, along with a 2014 Addendum to that plan, catalogs the existing environmental and ecological conditions and current management issues of the Preserve and serves as a guide for the future use and management goals set by the Borough’s Nature Preserve Committee.
In 2012 the Borough received a 50% matching grant from PECO, allowing it to leverage Dr. Groner’s bequest and add signs, benches, and birdhouses throughout the Preserve.