Since the mid-1990s, Upper Makefield has aggressively moved to preserve township land – with strong support from residents. Since 1996, residents have approved 3 separate referenda to borrow a total of $31 million for open space preservation. Upper Makefield Township has protected more than 2,000 acres through purchase of conservation easements.
As of 2009, 5,096.73 acres, more than 37% of the township’s land, is preserved – an incredible 606 acres per 1,000 residents (based on an estimated population of 8,400).
Updated in September 2009, Upper Makefield’s Open Space Plan prioritizes open space preservation goals for the township to follow. The Environmental Advisory Council (EAC) uses evaluation criteria outlined in the plan to prioritize properties and make recommendations to the Board of Supervisors.
The township is actively working on 6 goals, in order of priority. The full open space plan available for download provides further details including specific action steps.
Upper Makefield does not have public water and sewer, so protecting lands surrounding reservoirs, streams, and aquifer recherché areas are a high priority. Also of high priority are lands that provide flood control and surface filtration.
Greenways provide for recreational activities such as hiking, biking, walking, and boating. In addition, wildlife use greenway corridors for migration, and plant species require varied connecting environments to survive and regenerate. To establish these corridors, the EAC places priority on preserving adjacent lands and encouraging preservation of corridors that link new residential subdivisions and nearby open spaces.
Upper Makefield is a desirable place to live, which has put increasing pressure on farmers to sell for development. Working with the Bucks County Farmland Preservation program and Heritage Conservancy helps preserve farmland. Preserving large tracts of farmland will ensure agriculture sustainability in the township and maintain adequate groundwater recharge.
Following the priorities set in the Natural Area Inventory of Bucks County, Upper Makefield continues to consider preservation of biodiversity. In addition to specifically identified sites, the EAC aims to protect the transition areas between ecosystems and provide a buffer around sensitive natural areas.
Upper Makefield’s scenic beauty is a sign of a healthy environment and is important to the community’s quality of life. As such, maintaining the township vistas and scenic viewsheds are also considered a priority.
Athletic fields to play on, mountain paths to hike and bike, and streams to fish from are just a few of the recreational opportunities provided to township residents through the preservation of recreational open space. This goal is further addressed in the Park & Recreation Comprehensive Plan.