With approximately 2,000 acres dedicated to open space, Willowsford’s founders believed it was important to establish an entity that would administer, maintain, and operate open space, trails, and other amenity areas within or otherwise serving the Willowsford community. Relieving the HOA of this responsibility and expense was viewed as essential for the Conservancy’s long-term viability and success. It is important to note, however, that both the HOA and the Conservancy share a commitment to making Willowsford a special place that people invest themselves in and become a part of a true “community” where people not only live and play, but put down roots and build relationships and get involved in a way that creates a better quality of life for themselves, their neighbors, and the community at large.

The founders intended for the Conservancy to be a catalyst for a wide variety of programs, services and activities to appeal to the diverse interests of those who live in Willowsford.

Active management and conservation of Willowsford’s natural resources is a vital part of the Conservancy’s mission. Conservation practices may include reforesting farmland, creating edible landscapes, wildlife management (including hunting programs), the harvesting of trees, eradication of invasive plants, meadow restoration or naturalization, as well as other active land management activities.

During development, the Conservancy is run by a Board of Trustees, appointed by the founders. The Board meets bi-monthly, on the 3rd Thursday of the month beginning in January, at 5:00 pm at Sycamore House. For more information, contact info@willowsfordconservancy.org.

To be effective, the Conservancy must have a reliable source of funding as well as options for developing additional funding to expand its programs and services. Today, the Conservancy is funded in a variety of ways, including Grants, Community Enhancement Fees and assessments. The Community Enhancement Fee is charged to the purchaser upon the transfer of property ownership. The amount of the fee is set by the Board of Trustees, but may not exceed 0.25% of the gross selling price. Builders also contribute an initial fee. Revenue derived from the Farm’s products and services as well as fees from events organized by the Conservancy help support the mission and work of the Conservancy.

While it is true that the mission of the Conservancy extends to individuals beyond Willowsford’s borders, only activities sanctioned or organized by the Conservancy allow the use of its amenities by non-residents strictly during authorized times. One of the benefits of being a Willowsford resident is that the Conservancy amenities that have been activated for safe use are right in your backyard and available from dawn to dusk. Please note that due to ongoing development, certain trails or areas may be temporarily closed until deemed safe for resident use.

There are many opportunities to get involved with Conservancy and Farm activities, from helping during events, to volunteering at the Farm, assisting with trail maintenance, monitoring wildlife, researching and writing, photography, leading tours and programs, and supporting our conservation work. To learn more and get involved, check out the Volunteer section or e-mail info@willowsfordconservancy.org .

Only a small fraction of the ultimate open space area has currently been transferred out of private ownership. Until a section of the property is fully planned and the engineered plans are approved by the County, it is not possible to determine the exact size and shape of the open spaces. As Willowsford prepares to sell a section of lots to a community builder, the staff creates a Subdivision Record Plat, (aka Plat) depicting the exact configuration of roads, lots and open space parcels. Many factors are considered in designating which entity will own and maintain the community’s open spaces.

Generally, the areas with resident-only amenities, (e.g. pools) and higher maintenance areas (e.g. entry features) are deeded to the HOA. Parcels of open space that are to be utilized by the Farm or maintained as natural habitat, including fields, forests and wetlands, are deeded to the Conservancy. The Plat is recorded in the County land records along with a deed of dedication that subjects each open space parcel to either the HOA Charter or the Conservancy Covenant. Either form of dedication provides protection from further development and qualifies as Open Space. Upon recordation of such a Plat and deed the newly created parcel(s) come under the Conservancy’s governance and maintenance responsibility. Thereafter, the Conservancy Trustees direct maintenance of the land, such as agricultural practices, game management, programs, trail repairs, etc., in accordance with the Conservancy’s Mission statement and guiding principles.