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Trumpeting preservation

A book that should be required reading for Chester County's open-space advocates - "The Lady Blows a Horn" - is about to hit bookshelves with its third and last printing.

Not many municipalities in suburban Philadelphia can boast fewer residents now than 50 years ago, but Chester County's West Marlborough Township is far from the norm.

The 1960 census showed 901 residents. The 2010 number? 814.

The reason for the lack of growth can be traced to a group of people who worked tirelessly to maintain the area's open space. It was a quest that is chronicled in the book "The Lady Blows a Horn," a must-read for aficionados of foxhunting and/or land preservation.

Two of the key influences, Nancy Penn Smith Hannum and Nancy Mohr, are featured prominently in the book -- Hannum as the title character and Mohr as the author. The story, told through Hannum's eyes, focuses on her resolve to preserve the land, an unbridled passion matched only by her love of foxhunting. For area residents, the book provides an opportunity to learn about the history of Texas cattle in Unionville and the effort to prevent more than 5,000 acres from becoming a Disney production.