Natural Land Trust’s Hildacy Preserve Stormwater Treatment Wetland


The Natural Lands Trust staff occupied a farm house in the Hildacy Preserve until more operational office space was needed. The Natural Lands Trust’s new 10,000 square foot headquarters was constructed adjacent to the farmhouse on an old foundation of a garage. At the time of construction, the organization also received a grant to complete a long-planned project to convert a pond on the property into a wetland. The pond was a man-made spring-fed pond called Hildacy and was converted into a wetland in Spring 2002, taking nearly a year to complete. The pond had suffered from stagnant waters, high nutrient levels, bacteria, algae blooms, and little biodiversity in and around the pond due to the lack of oxygen within the water. Nearby runoff was discharging into an overloaded unnamed tributary to Crum Creek, leading to water quality and quantity issues in the Schuylkill River watershed.

The runoff is now collected from a 2-acre area surrounding the wetland and is filtered for pollutants and sediments before returning into the ground to recharge aquifers. For a site plan of the design, click here. The design of the landscape around the new building included native plantings of pinxterbloom azaleas, serviceberry, rosebay rhododendron and mapleleaf viburnum, which mitigate the problem of stormwater run-off generated by the new construction. This stormwater treatment wetland measures about 8,000 square feet and was created to detain stormwater as flood prevention, decrease environmental pollutants, educate the public, and benefit wildlife since native plants provide habitat and a source of food. A sediment forebay receives water from the roof of the new office, and measures 20 by 45 feet.

The water was first drained from the pond, and fish were relocated.  The basin was filled with soil, some of which came from the excavation associated with the new headquarters building. The basin was graded to different depths, and NLT staff planted 16 trees, 150 shrubs, and over 500 wetland perennials.  Flood-tolerant species such as bulrush, arrowhead, soft rush, and pickerel weed were planted. For a complete plant list, click here. Dead logs were placed in the wetland to create additional animal habitat. Mallard ducks and Kingfishers are regularly sighted in the wetland, and Red-winged Blackbirds nest there.

Additional plantings have since been added to reinforce the buffer between the tributary and the wetland. Invasive species monitoring is also part of the continuing maintenance plan. The sediment forebay has not yet needed to be cleaned out and should not need to be cleaned for many additional years since it simply receives most water from the headquarter’s roof.

The organization wishes to raise awareness about the importance of wetland ecosystems and effective management of stormwater runoff. The project serves as a demonstration site to educate the public, and interpretive signage has been erected to document the wetland project. About 7,300 visitors come to the preserve per year.


County: Delaware
Watershed: Crum Creek

Hildacy Farm Preserve is the site of the Natural Lands Trust’s headquarters and is a nature preserve comprised of 55 acres located near Media, Pennsylvania.


Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (primary funder, technical assistance)
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (technical assistance- site design)
Delaware County Conservation District (technical assistance)
Toth Brothers (Contractors)


Pennsylvania DEP Growing Greener Grant (2001) for $31,000.


David B. Steckel
Director of Grant Fund Raising
Senior Stewardship Planner
Natural Lands Trust, Inc.
1031 Palmers Mill Road
Media, PA  19063
610-353-5640 x315

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