Preserving the Paths to Freedom on the Underground Railroad
for Nature and Wildlife Training for our Next Generations
Far from negative, the URR is a history of resiliency and the efforts of Whites and Blacks 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 170’s 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 agriculture, and conservation activities.
The Underground Railroad (URR) 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 URR properties’ built structures, such as barns or houses called “Stations,” where the “freedom seekers” stayed in hiding on their path 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 URR 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, hidden, battles for individual liberties by diverse allies.
While the history of the Underground Railroad (URR) 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 connection 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 Agriculture – small gardens, pollinator habitats and cover crops
- Conservation Practices – riparian buffers and other practices
- Underground Railroad Education, Historical Artifacts and Teaching Tools
- Outdoor Fitness Trails
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 Agriculture Initiative” focuses on elevating Carver’s work in the late 1800s and early 1900s in developing 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. Our property acquisition plan doubles as a resource to support the farming of agriculture fields with cover crops and hay production for local industry.
An immediate goal to expand our training activities is the acquisition or lease of “Rural Respite” training sites in Chester County, Pennsylvania, northern Delaware, northern Maryland, New Jersey, and New York state to serve youth and adults in our trainings.
Legacy needs your support to preserve URR open space 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 open space wildlife habitat 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.