Featured Projects

Amphibian Crossing Project

Helping Salamanders (and other amphibians!) Safely Cross the Road

Along with a group of volunteers and members of Richland and East Rockhill Townships, Heritage Conservancy established Quakertown Swamp Amphibian Rescue Partnership. Every year, this partnership helps to provide safe passage for small amphibian creatures across a busy road during breeding season at the end of each winter.

In the Quakertown Swamp, one of Heritage Conservancy’s Lasting Landscapes®, frogs, salamanders, and other amphibians indigenous to the swamp must cross a busy road in order to get to the vernal pools on the other side to breed. The journey to the breeding grounds can be quite dangerous for these creatures. Passersby usually don’t notice them on the road, and therefore, few cars slow down to allow them to cross safely. Unfortunately, this is the sad case for thousands of salamanders, frogs and other amphibians in the Quakertown Swamp area, which is the largest inland wetland in the county.

Amphibian crossings usually occur in the evening during the first warm winter’s rain. The actual salamander rescue project is scheduled to take place in early spring. It takes only a few nights for all of the salamanders and other amphibians to reach the vernal pools. During this time, drivers should be aware and use caution.

Why do we do so much to protect them? Amphibians are excellent bio-indicators. They have permeable skin that can easily absorb toxic chemicals from both air and water, so they are very sensitive to any changes to the quality of their surroundings. A drop in population of amphibians could be an indication of the degradation of the health of the surrounding environment. Amphibians are a vital part of the swamp’s functioning ecosystem. They eat insects and other small aquatic and terrestrial plants and animals. In turn, they provide food for fish, snakes, turtles, larger frogs, birds, and small carnivorous and omnivorous mammals.

Most amphibians require both land and water at different stages of their lives to survive and reproduce. Amphibians are born in water as larval forms and eventually undergo metamorphosis, changing into an adult form. Many species leave the water to live out their adult lives in a terrestrial environment, but they must return to water to breed and lay eggs.

To find out more about this project, contact Shannon Fredebaugh at 215-345-7020 ext. 104.

Become a Friend of the Marsh!

We are currently seeking volunteers to become permanent Friends of Bristol Marsh. We are looking for dedicated volunteers who are willing to visit the property on a regular basis and help with our various working events such as clean-ups, invasive plant removal, and planting of native trees and shrubs. We also participate with local organizations such as Greenbelt Overhaul Alliance of Levvittown (G.O.A.L), Silver Lake Nature Center, the Delaware Riverkeeper Network as well as the Bristol Borough and Township School Districts in educational and outreach events throughout the year.

If interested in becoming a Friend of Bristol Marsh, contact Kris Kern at 215-345-7020 ext. 101 for details.  If interested in joining our volunteer corps, contact Shannon Fredebaugh, Volunteer Coordinator, at 215-345-7020 ext. 104.

Quakertown Swamp Preserve

Heritage Conservancy is working on an exciting community centered project called The Quakertown Swamp Preserve. In collaboration with Richland Township, a new access point is planned for Quakertown Swamp that will allow visitors to fully appreciate the special beauty of this extraordinary natural wetland! The preserve will be enhanced using grants and donations.

Quakertown Swamp is one of Heritage Conservancy’s Lasting landscapes®, an initiative that unites open space protection and historic preservation comprehensively at the “landscape level.” It has long been recognized as an exceptional wetland habitat, encompassing an area of approximately 518 acres of land in Richland, East Rockhill and West Rockhill Townships. It is among the largest inland wetlands in southeastern Pennsylvania, and is home to diverse plant and animal communities. The swamp supports several rare bird species and has been designated by the National Audubon Society as one of 70 Important Bird Areas in the state. In fact, it is home to what may be the largest Great Blue Heron rookery in eastern Pennsylvania.

Watch Heritage Conservancy’s virtual tour of the Quakertown Swamp Preserve:

To support the Quakertown Swamp Preserve or for more information, call Sharon Young at 215-345-7020 ext. 106.

Historic Bucks County Farms

Historic Bucks County farms produce much more than just farm products. Surrounding communities reap many benefits from farms, particularly those that have been permanently protected. Preserved open space, a continued rural lifestyle, and the prevention of urban sprawl are some advantages. More specific agricultural values include long-term food security, fresh food and support to local farmers. Yet another benefit is the protection of our rich rural heritage.

The earliest barns in Bucks County were modest, log buildings. By the mid 1800’s, post-and-beam construction became standard: massive timbers made up the frame and were held together with wooden pegs. These barns were built in a variety of styles and sizes and used differing materials. The later barns were almost completely Americanized, although some of the earliest barns reflected the builder’s national origin. Barns are the most dominant structure on a historic farmstead. Barns provided shelter for livestock, storage for grain and hay, housing for tools and equipment, and a site to perform various work activities.

When not being used for work, barns doubled as centers for social events like barn dances and husking bees. The act of erecting a barn was also a social event. “Barn raisings,” as they were called, offered a welcome break from the isolation of everyday work life. With the steady increase in mechanized farming during the twentieth century, barns became increasingly less essential to a farm’s operation. Other, more specialized structures were developed to house machinery and store crops. By drawing attention to the importance of preserving the unique, historic elements of Bucks County’s rural heritage, the legacy can be passed on to future generations.

The properties highlighted in the brochure attached below were taken from the Fresh From Bucks County Farms: A Guide to Roadside Markets & “Pick Your Own” Farms brochure and only includes properties where the owners have agreed to be in this publication.

Credits: All text and photographs unless otherwise noted are by Diane Cuthbertson and Jeffrey L. Marshall

This project was made possible through a grant from the County of Bucks and the Bucks County Conference and Visitor’s Bureau.

Bristol Marsh: An Important Natural Resource

Heritage Conservancy has been working as a local partner to The Nature Conservancy to promote the ecological restoration and stewardship of Bristol Marsh, located in Bristol Borough in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. The marsh lies along the main stem of the Delaware River and is a freshwater tidal marsh, a special type of wetland found in coastal areas but rare in Pennsylvania.

The marsh is a unique and important environmental resource. It’s an asset for this area and helps protect our riverfront from some of the impacts of flooding and stormwater pollution. Freshwater tidal marshes are rare and fragile ecosystems that support a wide variety of plants, birds, and animals. The plants help filter water before it enters the Delaware River and minimize flood water and stream erosion. According to The Nature Conservancy, Bristol Marsh is one of the best remaining examples of this natural community in Pennsylvania.

Public access to the marsh is available. The Marsh is next to Bristol Borough Riverfront Park. It is also at the end of the Delaware and Lehigh National Heritage Corridor trail which follows both watered and filled portions of the Delaware Canal. Northeast of the Marsh is the Bristol Historic District, the Spurline Trail, and the Silver Lake Nature Center. The marsh is definitely worth a visit!

**Heritage Conservancy is thrilled to partner with the Alliance for Watershed Education of the Delaware River (AWE) on River Days. River Days is a series of events that is held each fall to connect people with the Delaware River. Heritage Conservancy joins 22 environmental centers in promoting watershed education and protection. Funding for River Days is provided by the William Penn Foundation. To see a list of upcoming River Days events, view our Calendar of Events here

Watch Heritage Conservancy’s virtual tour of the Bristol Marsh Nature Preserve:


Download our Bristol Marsh Teacher’s Manual to use as a supplemental resource for teaching about the marsh.

Directions to Bristol Marsh Viewing Areas
If you are using a mapping program or GPS, use this address:

159 Basin Park
Bristol PA, 19007

Here’s a tool that can help you plan your trip to Bristol Marsh using multimodal methods, combining biking, public transit, and/or hiking: GoPhillyGo.org. Find Bristol Marsh as one of the Featured Destinations, and click “Find Directions.”

Become a Friend of the Marsh!

Bucks County Bats in Crisis

Little Brown Bat in Durham Bat Mine

Heritage Conservancy acquired the Durham Mine Bat Hibernaculum and the surrounding 90.5-acre property from the Rattlesnake and Mine Hill Wildlife Preservation Trust in 2002 for the purposes of ensuring the protection of the bat population’s hibernating haven. Located in Durham Township, Bucks County, this area is listed in the 1999 Bucks County’s Natural Areas Inventory as a Priority #1 site of state-wide and county-wide significance.

In February 2008, the Pennsylvania Game Commission ascertained a conservative count of 8,030 bats in hibernation in the mineshafts including five species: the northern long-eared bat, the eastern pipistrelle, the little brown bat, the big brown bat and the small-footed bat.

In the fall of 2009, White Nose Syndrome (WNS), was discovered in the Durham Mine. First diagnosed in Albany, NY in 2007, this newly emerged infectious disease affects all hibernating bats species and has a 96% total mortality rate. In less than 24 months infection has spread to ten states and 500 miles from the epicenter. The majority of experts investigating WNS believe that the recently identified fungus, Geomyces destructans, is the causative agent. Since North American bats have no natural resistance, it is likely that within two years every site in Pennsylvania will be affected.

The Conservancy is working with the PA Game Commission and biologists from Bucknell University and the University of Kentucky to study the Durham Mine’s infected population in an attempt to learn more about WNS. They will also be testing several natural compounds that have been know to be effective in fighting the fungus, and modes of deployment to treat large populations in a cave setting.

Bats are vital to the region’s ecology. A little brown bat can consume up to 1,200 insects per hour in a six-hour feeding period – thus helping farmers and residents keep harmful insect populations under control. According to Bat Conservation International, bats are the most endangered land mammals in North America, suffering from habitat loss, environmental pollution and vandalism in caves. While the gating of the Durham Bat Mine has increased the protection of this important colony, our permanent protection of the critical area around the mine ensures that future land uses are limited to conservation, environmental education and maintenance of the existing residential use.

To help combat the impact of WNS, residents are asked to report anything suspicious, such as a dead bat or bats found flying in winter to the State Game Commission at 610-926-3136 or http://www.pgc.state.pa.us/. Heritage Conservancy staff is also encouraging Upper Bucks residents and officials to contact the Conservancy to learn how to install bat boxes on their properties, as they will provide the Durham bats with safe places to raise their pups in the summer months.

Congress Approved Wild and Scenic River Designation for the Musconetcong River

The U.S. House of Representatives approved designating New Jersey’s Musconetcong River, one of musconetcongHeritage Conservancy’s seven Lasting Landscapes®, as a Wild and Scenic River. House bill H.R. 1307, the Musconetcong Wild and Scenic River Act, has now been referred to the Senate and is expected to be signed into law by President Bush in 2006.

Wild and Scenic River designation places a layer of protection on a river as a valued natural resource; it also makes federal funds for resource conservation projects, such as bank stabilization, more easily available.

Heritage Conservancy played an important role in achieving this milestone. In June 2004, we completed the Musconetcong River National Wild and Scenic Rivers Study on behalf of the Musconetcong Watershed Association. This study, which was funded by the National Parks Service, determined which river segments were eligible for inclusion in the national system and identified appropriate classifications for the segments in the event they were so designated. In addition, Heritage Conservancy staff participated in advisory committee meetings and facilitated public meetings associated with this project.

The Musconetcong River is the largest non-tidal tributary to the Delaware River in New Jersey and the longest un-dammed river east of the Mississippi. Its watershed lies entirely within the important Highlands Region, a landscape granted federal designation by the Highlands Conservation Act of 2004, and along the Atlantic Flyway, one of four major migratory bird routes in North America.

Approximately 20 of its tributaries are regionally important trout fishing streams that support naturally reproducing trout populations and regionally important populations of wildlife and critical habitat for state-listed threatened, endangered or rare species present within the river corridor. More than 100,000 people annually visit the Allamuchy and Stephens State Parks alone, and the region also contains numerous bridges, mills and districts listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Since identifying the Musconetcong River Valley Watershed as a Lasting Landscape, Heritage Conservancy has completed numerous other projects in the area, including training municipal officials and community groups on the vital link between land use and water quality and the creation of a beautiful poster, “The Wetlands Wonders of the Musconetcong,” which encouraged the public to visit the accessible areas of the Musconetcong wetlands and to appreciate and protect this great resource. The poster was distributed to all municipalities, for further distribution through schools, community groups, and at events.

For more information about the Musconetcong River Valley Watershed, contact Heritage Conservancy or The Musconetcong Watershed Association.

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