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The 3,050-acre White Clay Creek Preserve is in southern Chester County, three miles north of Newark, Delaware. The White Clay Creek Valley, which forms the core of the preserve, varies from steep to gradually rolling hills with some flat bottomlands, all drained by the creek. White Clay Creek Preserve shares a boundary with Delaware’s White Clay Creek State Park. Because White Clay Creek possesses outstanding scenic, wildlife, recreational, and cultural value, it has been designated by Congress as a National Wild and Scenic River. Thus, it shall be preserved in a free-flowing condition for the benefit and enjoyment of present and future generations.
The White Clay Creek watershed is an exceptional resource in the bi-state area, renowned for its scenery, opportunities for birdwatching and trout fishing, and for its historic features, such as lime kilns and 19th-century mills. Other important resources include the federally listed endangered bog turtle, the most extensive mature Piedmont forests remaining in the state of Delaware, and the Cockeysville Marble Formation, an exceptional aquifer. The watershed is an important drinking water source for Pennsylvania and Delaware residents. Part of the Christina River Basin, White Clay Creek is a critical link to the Delaware Estuary, which is nationally and internationally important.
Why a Preserve and not a Park?
Because of an extremely sensitive natural balance in the area brought about by rapid urban encroachment, an equally sensitive political climate, plus the existence of several endangered plant and animal species, it was deemed unwise to develop the new acquisition along the lines of conventional State Park recreation facilities. What was to be White Clay Creek State Park became White Clay Creek Preserve, the first Preserve in the Bureau of State Parks, by an act of the legislature on June 26, 1984. Development for recreational purposes within the Preserve will be limited to hiking trails and a few stone-surfaced parking lots of small size. As part of this concern, the agreement included the formation of the Bi-State Advisory Council to consist of six members each from Pennsylvania and Delaware. The council was to represent, as far as was practicable, a broad cross-section of public and environmental interests. The council was to meet on a semi-annual basis, or when circumstance required, to help choose the wisest future paths in the development of the bi-state facilities. When DCNR was formed in 1995, the bi-state advisory council was disbanded and a Friends Group was developed to help assist with the park.