Preserving the Paths to Freedom on the Underground Railroad
for Nature and Wildlife Training for our Next Generations
Far from negative, the Underground Railroad (UGRR) is a history of resiliency and the efforts of White and Black people working together for the purpose of humanity. Today, more is needed to elevate equality and strengthen humanity: peoples’ ability to access the experience of enjoying and protecting nature, wildlife habitats and healthier food sources today, preserves the main outcome and legacy of the Underground Railroad period of the 1700s and 1800s: overcoming and coping with challenges by using open spaces as a path to better living.
With your help, we will continue to grow and strengthen these opportunities for all by protecting our natural resource open spaces and training in how to preserve and use these mental-health enhancing environments. Join our effort to preserve the open spaces of the Underground Railroad trails in southeastern and southwestern Pennsylvania, northern Maryland, northern Delaware, New Jersey, and New York, and to support their use for nature and wildlife training in fishing, birding, hunting, sustainable-regenerative agriculture, and conservation activities.
The Underground Railroad (UGRR) was a network of people that helped enslaved men, women, and children escape to freedom from the South to the North. Historically there has been a focus on UGRR properties’ built structures, such as barns or houses called “Stations,” where the “freedom seekers” stayed in hiding on their paths the freedom.
The “Railroads” connecting the stations were the paths these freedom seekers and their abolitionist supporters used: Most were streams, creeks, rivers, lakes, high grass fields, and thick wooded segments of land, whose landscapes and features allowed freedom seekers to move undetected, mostly at night, and also to be close to natural food and water sources while hiding during daylight.
Legacy Land & Water Partners aims to preserve the remaining open spaces of these UGRR trail areas, and in doing so, preserve and protect the “veins of freedom in the land of our country’s Democracy.” These open spaces provide motivation to appreciate freedom and preserve our Democracy’s critical natural resource lands and biodiverse wildlife habitats that still exist as the historical theater of the moving, the hidden, the battles for individual liberties by diverse allies.
While the history of the Underground Railroad (UGRR) is difficult, the activities and experiences of the freedom seekers, abolitionists and others that helped on these paths to freedom provide an opportunity to create deeper connections to our waterways, fields, wildlife, and wildlife habitats. These deeper connections educate, empower, heal, and inspire lifelong appreciation of nature and wildlife, and a context for daily reflection on the freedom to enjoy them.
Our training activities include:
- Hunting Heritage and Wildlife Management
- Sustainable and Regenerative Agriculture – small gardens (indoor and outdoor), pollinator habitats and cover crops
- Conservation Practices – the benefits of riparian buffers and other wildlife habitat protection practices
- Underground Railroad Education and Teaching Tools
- Outdoor Fitness Trail activities
These resources and trainings are offered as respite and positive distraction, highlighting and using the power of nature—and human integration with it—to support mental health.
Our “George Washington Carver Sustainable-Regenerative Agriculture Initiative” focuses on elevating Carver’s work in the late 1800s and early1900s in developing cover crop strategies to help small and Black farmers to strengthen the health of their soils, expand healthier food consumption sources for their families and provide more sources of income from year-round harvest opportunities. These activities are increasingly used by many farmers of all backgrounds today given the benefit of soil health.
Our current goal is to expand our youth and adult wildlife and nature training activities with the acquisition or lease of “Rural Respite” training sites in our training areas of Chester County, Pennsylvania, northern Delaware, northern Maryland, New Jersey, and New York state. Our property acquisition/lease plan doubles as a resource to support the farming of agriculture fields with cover crops and hay production for the local equine and agriculture industries and to serve as demonstration sites for new entrepreneurial farmers.
Legacy needs your support to preserve UGRR wildlife habitat open spaces through:
Property acquisitions or leases of private properties to preserve their natural resource state and to use as training locations,
Conservation easements (deed restrictions) placed on private properties to maintain their current natural state,
Agricultural easements (deed restrictions) placed on farm properties to maintain current and future agricultural use or wildlife habitat open space preservation.
Each site will enable Legacy to provide high quality participation experiences in these specialties for youth and adults, to deepen their enjoyment and commitment to protecting and enhancing public natural resource areas.