"Each of us has a personal responsibility to care for creation, this precious gift which God has entrusted to us." –Pope Francis
Save Marple Greenspace consists entirely of community volunteers whose goal is to protect one of the largest - and last - remaining shreds of "Penn's Woods" in eastern Delaware County, Pennsylvania. The 178 acre mature forest adjoining the Don Guanella School provides, at no cost to the community, substantial economic benefits and ecological services that would be lost completely if development that destroys the forest there is greenlighted. Since forests filter our air and water, the biggest and most immediate cost of losing this place would be to our children's health and the health of the Darby Creek. Sadly, Delaware County received a disturbingly low ranking from the American Lung Association in one dangerous air pollution category, so it's critically important to residents in the eastern portion of the county that this problem not be made worse.
According to the ALA’s national air quality report, Delco’s pollution problem placed it 17th from the bottom (...among 3,143 counties) in the category of "PM 2.5," microscopic pollution that lodges deep in the lungs. But the news is now even worse: especially for our children. According to a recent study published in one of the reputable journals of the American Thoracic Society, the pollution threshold at which harm occurs to the lung function of children is much lower than previously thought. The ATS study specifically examined respiratory health of children living in the vicinity of heavily traveled roads and found clear evidence of impaired function even from low levels of PM 2.5.
So what does this have to do with open space in Delco or the Don Guanella forest? Hundreds of thousands of cars choke Delaware County’s roads each day, and the more development that replaces our remaining open places and forests in Delaware County, the worse our traffic/pollution problem will get. Most importantly, destroying a large forest adjoining Route 476 will MEASURABLY HARM OUR CHILDREN’S RESPIRATORY HEALTH because that forest is an enormous pollution filter. Now more than ever, residents of Delaware County need to let their elected officials know that they should do everything in their power to help save the last shreds of Delco's open space and keep our pollution problem from getting any worse. It's simple: Protecting Delco’s remaining open space is equivalent to protecting our children’s health. There's another reason, too, why the public should be given a big say in the determination of this forest.
This land in a way belongs to the public since local, county, and state taxpayers paid higher tax bills to cover what wasn't being paid by the Archdiocese. This enormous subsidy gives the land a public ownership component which ought to give area residents a say in what happens to it. Importantly, we're not asking for the Archdiocese to give the land away. We want to organize a coalition to buy it at its actual wholesale value, not an overinflated price that ignores the many environmental constraints. Our area has more than its fair share of shopping centers and less than its fair share of open space. Once it's all gone, there's no getting it back.