The Philander Chase Conservancy will now be able to connect Kenyon College’s Brown Family Environmental Center (BFEC) with the Knox County Park District’s Wolf Run Regional Park thanks to the vision and generous support of John A. Woollam, a member of Kenyon College Class of 1961. Woollam originally purchased the 124-acre property in April of 2022 for the express purposes of conserving the land and creating public open space that would connect the BFEC with Wolf Run Regional Park.
The Conservancy, which was established by Kenyon in 2000 as the only land trust established by a college or university in the United States, purchased the property from Woollam in December. The 124-acre property, bordered to the north by Yauger Road and to the south by existing BFEC lands, was purchased using grant funds from the Ohio Public Works Commission’s Clean Ohio Fund Green Space Conservation Program.
The resulting green corridor will include over 1,000 contiguous acres of publicly accessible green space for recreational, educational, and research purposes. The property consists of 49 acres of unmanaged forest, 75 acres of agricultural land, several natural springs and will connect more than 20 miles of contiguous hiking trails. The forested areas will be actively managed to promote biodiversity and the area that is currently in agriculture will be restored to native prairie.
“PCC is delighted to be able to once again work with the Knox County Park District in enhancing access to Wolf Run Regional Park,” said Philander Chase Conservancy Board Chair Zali Win ’84. “This access is made even more valuable because of the contiguous access to the BFEC. We are grateful to John Woollam and to the OPWC’s Clean Ohio Green Space Conservation Program for helping to make this important acquisition possible for the community to enjoy.”
The newly acquired property will be administered under the auspices of the BFEC, Kenyon College’s 600-acre nature preserve, under a memorandum of understanding with the Conservancy. The property is protected under a deed restriction that safeguards the conservation purposes of the property in perpetuity.
“The BFEC is very excited to be part of a project that links over 1,000 acres of green space in the middle of Knox County,” said Noelle Jordan, director of the BFEC. “This green corridor is intersected by the Kokosing River and the bike path (the Kokosing Gap Trail), providing amazing connectivity for outdoor recreationalists. As Knox County grows, we hope this natural area will become a much-loved feature that will support active lifestyles and social interaction.”
The Clean Ohio Green Space Conservation Program provides grants for up to 75% of the estimated costs for projects that either acquire open spaces and make the space accessible and usable by the general public, or protect and enhance riparian corridors and watersheds. The Conservancy received the funding for this project in January 2023 and proceeded with the acquisition of the 124-acre parcel. Restoration of agricultural lands will begin shortly and is expected to be completed by the end of 2024.