TNC purchases 7.5 acres of forestland to expand Ponders Tract at its Pemberton Forest preserve in Sussex County, Delaware; purchase, made possible by private funding, protects diverse wildlife and ensures continued public access to the preserve

Sample article from our Forestry & Timberland

June 8, 2023 (press release) –

The Nature Conservancy (TNC) in Pennsylvania and Delaware announced today that it has closed on the purchase of 7.5 acres to expand Ponders Tract at its Pemberton Forest preserve in Sussex County, Delaware. TNC will retain ownership of the new parcel, and the acquisition marks its first new land purchase in Delaware since 2004.


Located within the Broadkill River headwaters, Ponders Tract serves as an important biodiversity refuge within the Delaware Bayshore landscape. The preserve acts as a critical stopover for neo-tropical migratory birds such as the black-and-white warbler and the ovenbird. The area also contains small wetlands and vernal ponds that harbor reptile and amphibian species, including Fowler’s toad, the southern leopard frog and the gray tree frog. Hessel’s hairstreak, a rare and threatened butterfly, has been observed in this portion of the preserve, as has the endangered Delmarva fox squirrel.

The new 7.5-acre addition consists of three forested parcels near the Route 16 access road entrance to Ponders Tract. The acquisition will protect the land from future development, allowing for continued ease of access for both the public and TNC conservation staff as they work to protect and restore the Ponders ecosystem using prescribed fire and other management strategies.

Thanks to the efforts of supporters, volunteers and staff, TNC has already transformed the tract’s former logging roads into more than nine miles of trails, first opening the Ponders system for public access in 2010.

“Ponders Tract is one of TNC’s flagship preserves in Delaware, and we’re delighted that this new addition will now be conserved in perpetuity,” said Lori Brennan, executive director of The Nature Conservancy’s Pennsylvania and Delaware chapter.

The acquisition was made possible through the generosity of Bayard R. and Violet "Cis" Horn, the Welfare Foundation and the Red Wagon Calagione Family Foundation.

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Dan Rivard
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