The Trexler Nature Preserve is an 1,108 acre county park owned and maintained by Lehigh County, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The preserve is situated in Lowhill Township and North Whitehall Township and the land that comprises the preserve was originally purchased between 1901 and 1911 by local industrialist General Harry Clay Trexler.
It was originally Trexler's desire to stock the preserve with big game animals such as bison, elk, and deer with the express goal of saving the North American Bison. When Trexler died in 1933, the preserve, by will, passed to the care of the County of Lehigh. Lehigh County assumed title in 1935 and has been in control of the site ever since. In May 1975, in an attempt to raise awareness of the preserve, the County launched a new initiative to draw visitors—the Lehigh Valley Zoo. Although the zoo returned some public use to the land, the great majority of the preserve remained closed to the general public and the herd sizes of bison and elk continued to dwindle.
In 2004, Lehigh County suffering from an uncertainty of then-recent budgets, proposed to close the zoo portion of the preserve. A local group, the Lehigh Valley Zoological Society, formed to assume private control of the zoo under a lease arrangement with Lehigh County. Concurrent with the transfer of the zoo to private control, the Trexler Trust brought civil suit against the County of Lehigh demanding, under the terms of Trexler's will, that the entire preserve be opened to public use and that public funds be devoted to that public use. The county, under pressure from the Trexler Trust, acceded to a settlement in 2006. As part of this settlement, Lehigh County agreed to open the entire preserve to public use and to rename the non-zoo portion of the park from the "Trexler Game Preserve" to the "Trexler Nature Preserve." Since re-opening the entire preserve to public use, extensive efforts have been made to increase passive recreational activities, such as hiking and mountain biking (by building an extensive trail system) and archery hunting and fishing (by changing cull policies and stocking the Jordan Creek). In addition, efforts have been made to eradicate invasive plants which colonised large parts of the preserve after nearly a century of inartful range practices.
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