The Flint Woods Preserve: Delaware’s deep forestJun 29, 2022 12:10PM ● By Tricia Hoadley
Photos and text by Richard L. Gaw
Within the first few minutes of entering the 37 acres of the Flint Woods Preserve that is owned and cared for by The Delaware Nature Society, its purest definition unfurls itself in the form of nature’s glorious and welcome quietude, punctuated only by the chorus of bird songs from the Louisiana Water Thrush, the Scarlet Tanager and the Wood Thrush.
Within these first few minutes, this swath of discovery becomes a spiritual bathing and an enveloping walk through tranquility, where sunlight permeates the canopy of massive oak, tulip, hickory and American beech trees -- some of which date back more than 150 years.
Long identified as the largest remaining old growth hardwood forest in Delaware, the Flint Woods Preserve in Centreville is adjacent to more than 100 additional acres of private and public land that provides critical woodland habitat for birds and is a popular stopover area for a wide variety of Neotropical birds and home to woodland plants and a restored meadow that all contribute to a valuable natural ecosystem.
“There are many trees in this forest that have been preserved in here for a long time, and the larger a forest is, the more important it becomes,” said Joe Sebastiani, the director of Adult Engagement for the Delaware Nature Society. “Birds and plants who depend on interior forests to survive find a lot of space that they need in the middle of the forest and not just at the edge of a forest.
“This is a place where nature is allowed to take its own course, and is completely left alone in order to do so.”
The creation of the Flint Woods Preserve was not only a gift from Karen and Peter Flint and their family to the Delaware Nature Society, but a bold vision that reimagined the way land could be preserved in northern Delaware. Peter, the long-time President of the Delaware Nature Society, worked with Director Mike Riska to expand the Delaware Nature Society Society’s reach – that included three parcels of the Flint Woods Preserve.
“The important thing to know is that this is the Flint family’s land,” Sebastiani said. “It is land that they themselves have managed in order to create a biodiverse habitat that includes preserving a pristine meadow and forest, placing some of their property under conservation easements and gifting 37 acres to the Delaware.
“If you look at a map of where the forests exist in northern Delaware, the biggest blocks are the Brandywine Creek State Park, the Red Clay Valley, the White Clay Creek State park and the Flint Woods Preserve. For one family to play such a huge part in preserving this land has been a benefit to everyone.”
The Flint Woods Preserve is closed to the public. However, the portion gifted to and maintained by The Delaware Nature Society offers an extensive trail system that is used throughout the year for special guided tours. To learn more about The Flint Woods Preserve and to schedule a tour, visit www.DelNature.org.