Forest stewardship of the Ardsley Wildlife Sanctuary

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Woman taking notes in Ardsley Wildlife Sanctuary

About the Ardsley Wildlife Sanctuary 

Stewardship of Ardsley Wildlife Sanctuary is a top priority for the Shade Tree Commission.  This 81-acre tract of land  was obtained by the township in 1996 utilizing Montgomery County open space grant money to fund 90% of the purchase. A large portion of this property is environmentally sensitive.
Throughout the property there are wetlands, water bodies and steep slopes. Over 85% is woodland. In addition, the township has made significant investment to upgrade the regional stormwater management system. We invite you to take a walk and get to know this unique open space.



Strategic Priorities

The following priorities are guided by the Ardsley Wildlife Sanctuary Land Management Plan (Land Concepts, 2006), DCNR Forestry and the PA Game Commission. Press the arrow to expand the information in each section below to learn more.  

Healthy Land
  1. Define land management units and associated priorities 
  2. Sustainably develop the high-use areas, balancing the needs of public access, critical habitat and stormwater management
  3. Maintain selected trails for wildlife observation
  4. Protect and preserve sensitive areas
  5. Improve the quality of forested areas
  6. Restore meadows
Healthy Water
  1. Minimize stormwater runoff and manage features to enhance water quality
  2. Protect and wetlands and vernal pools
  3. Establish healthy riparian buffers for all water features
Wildlife Diversity
  1. Plant a conifer stand for improved cover habitat
  2. Plant shrubs and small trees for wildlife food, nesting and cover
  3. Enhance the retention-pond habitat
  4. Enhance the forest habitat
  5. Remove exotic invasive vegetation
  1. Establish interpretive trails
  2. Encourage the study of nature
  3. Connect and teach through social media
  4. Promote volunteer engagement and hands-on learning
Access and Safety
  1. Create interpretive signage that is consistent in appearance and style
  2. Manage for a safe visitor experience
  1. Secure grant -based funding to support these priorities
  2. Build partnerships with associated groups and individuals to leverage limited resources

Project(s) Updates

Currently, there are two projects underway within the Park. To learn more click on the project of interest. 

Maple Avenue Entrance: Accessible Nature Trail and Forest Restoration

Funded by a PA C2P2 grant, Land Concepts created a professional design to enhance public enjoyment and appreciation of the natural environment in the vicinity of the main entrance off of Maple Avenue.  Public input was gathered through focus groups held in 2016-2017.  This design respects previously-installed storm water management berms.  Project goals are accessibility, forest restoration and ongoing stewardship.  The construction project was publicly bid, and the contract was awarded to Think Green.  Key project milestones include:

  • Removal of construction debris and clearing of invasive vines and dead trees in the area to be reforested (completed)
  • Installation of an ADA-accessible walking path that provides a firm and stable surface to explore and view a range of habitat including new and establish woodlands, vernal pools and a meadow.The trail will be crusher stone on the flat portions, and paved surface on the slopes, to protect against forces of erosion.Rough grading took place this week; paving is to begin next week, followed by final grading and seeding.
  • Installation of a deer exclusion fence surrounding the area to be reforested.This is necessary to protect newly planted trees and shrubs from deer browse and rubbing until they are established. Installation is to begin next week.
  • Reforestation planting includes 12 mature trees, 140 shrubs, and 70 whips that will mature into canopy trees and 70 into understory trees.Planting will be done by a mix of Think Green, STC and volunteers throughout the 2019 planting season.
  • Habitat enhancement includes invasive plants in the vicinity of the trail, and seeding with Deer Resistance meadow mix.Clearing took place this week and seeding will follow shortly.
  • Benches and interpretive signage are to be placed during 2019.We are accepting memorial donations to help us fund these features.
  • Accessible Parking- two sites will be created just inside the AWS property for the sole use of motorists with handicap parking designation.Construction will be scheduled in coordination with township road construction projects.

Updated May 2019

Stormwater Drainage through AWS (Edgehill/Tyson Reconstruction Project)

The Edgehill Tyson Reconstruction Project includes storm water conveyance through the Ardsley Wildlife Sanctuary and the Ardsley Burial Park.  Township staff and the STC continue to work closely with design and construction contractors to ensure that storm water is conveyed in a manner that preserves and enhances the woodlands. As you walk through the sanctuary, you can now see the footprints for three drainage alignments associated with this project:

  • Enlarged basin near East Drive- the design features a larger retaining basin to capture and slow flows, while retaining mature woodlands between the basin and the railroad tracks.
  • Pools and riffles- this new drainage feature between East and West Drives utilizes a Best Management Practice (BMP) featuring a series of rock-lined pools and riffles that will slow and distribute storm water flows through a wooded area within the AWS.The STC, township staff and contractors surveyed large trees within this wooded area, and selected a drainage alignment that minimized tree removal and relies on natural land contours.
  • Level spreader -storm water that is captured and channeled through pipes underneath roadways within Ardsley Burial Park will be day lighted just beyond West Drive, through a 150-foot-long level spreader, which will allow overflow into a low lying area that flows to the creek.This feature lies entirely within the Ardsley Burial Park.

Forest restoration and habitat enhancement will follow in 2019. The pools and riffles drainage area is to be replanted with shade trees, shrubs and seed mixes that are deer resistant.  Once the rocks are placed and the landscape established, we envision this area to mimic the look of a dry streambed, which turns into a flowing stream during significant rainfall events. The location within a wooded area will enhance infiltration of rainwater into the ground.


Updated May 2019