Preserved: A Keystone in a 350-Acre Greenway in Upper Bucks County

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We had a busy end of December! Around the same time as our Croydon Woods acquisition, we were closing on the preservation of another property, this time at the opposite end of the county in upper Bucks County.

The Wernett property, a 17-acre working farm that is also known as Sunrise Farm and is located in Springfield Township, will now be protected in perpetuity thanks to the combined efforts of Heritage Conservancy and Springfield Township. Funding for the project was provided by Springfield Township and the Bucks County Municipal Open Space Program. Heritage Conservancy will hold the conservation easement on Sunrise Farm and keep the promise to protect it in perpetuity.

After preserving 29 acres of their property with Heritage Conservancy and Richland Township back in 2011, Monty and Bonnie Wernett had preservation fever! With a sense of humor, Monty shared with us that the process does take time and you do need to have patience, but it is worth it in the end. That’s why he decided to do it again.

Filled with fond memories of raising pigs on Sunrise Farm and gratitude for how good the land has been to his family, Monty has spent the majority of his life appreciating the beauty of his land and all that it provides to the community.

“As much joy as we get when we drive by and see this vast landscape, we wanted other people to enjoy it and have that same feeling generations from now,” said Monty Wernett.

For over 40 years, the Wernetts have farmed their 17-acre property on California Road in Springfield Township, which is adjacent to the first property they preserved in Richland Township. Heritage Conservancy was aware that the Wernetts were interested in preserving the piece in Springfield Township as well, so acting as a facilitator, our organization approached the Township about this property that would connect the two townships and add to a 350-acre greenway of contiguous protected lands. Because of its location that contributes to a beautiful vista and scenic viewscape, and because the land contains prime agricultural soils that are important for agricultural production, the Wernetts’ property was considered a high-priority preservation project for Springfield Township.

“Our neighboring township, Richland Township, had already preserved a majority of the property. So when we (Springfield Township) had the opportunity to preserve the portion of this property in our township, we quickly moved the project forward,” said Pete Sleeman, Springfield Township Open Space Committee Chairman. “Heritage Conservancy and a willing property owner made the project a seamless and enjoyable experience.”

“Heritage Conservancy liaisons to link landowners, partners, and townships together to preserve large, contiguous areas of our important natural resources and landscapes,” said Laura Baird, Senior Land Conservationist for Heritage Conservancy who worked directly on this project. “It’s these strong partnerships that allow us to accomplish important preservation successes like the Wernett farm.”

After going through the preservation process twice and ultimately protecting two farms, Monty is a seasoned preservationist and a champion of protecting our green spaces.

“It’s this generation that that has to step up to the plate and protect our lands,” said Monty. “There’s a window for preservation open and it has an urgent timeframe before it closes. We need other farms to act now.”

We are thankful for the Wernetts’ foresight. Our community will forever benefit as a result of their compassionate act to preserve Sunrise Farm in perpetuity.