In 2010, along a quarter-mile stretch of Snyder Road, one of County’s most scenic, designated by the Montgomery County Planning Commission as “aesthetically unique,” contractors had taken down scores of mature hickories, oaks, beeches, dogwoods, and redbuds. What was once beautiful was now a bunch of ugly stumps.
The property was privately owned at the time and the owners who had not been contacted were sickened. While many would have been lost in their frustration, the owner, who was already in conversation with the township about how to preserve the property, had other ideas.
What if the property could be a national model for how power lines and trees could co-exist? Later came the idea of what if we could replant it with power line friendly native trees, shrubs and perennials. What if we replanted it with plants that were here when William Penn (who owned the original colonial deed to our township) was here? What if this was, in the end, not the destruction of a beautiful section of woods, but a teachable moment? What if we could do everything — start a new nonprofit, build a center, and preserve the land? Thus was conceived the Arboretum and Penn’s Wood Trails.
Last Fall with the help of volunteers the trail was cleared and then through a grant paved. On a cold bitter day last week Pottsgrove students from Spark the Wave Club braved the biting winds to walk the trail with Matt Hetrick of Hetrick Gardens and plan the trail and the native plants that will line it. Trees and shrubs are ordered and this Spring with the help of volunteers they’ll be planted showing how nature and power lines can exist in harmony and making the vision of Penn’s Trail a reality.