A Champion of Open Space

September 14, 2011

We lost this week a champion of open space. Eleanor Morris, co-founder—with her late husband state Representative Sam Morris—of French and Pickering Creeks Conservation Trust. She passed away Sunday at her farm in northern Chester County, the community she did so much to protect.

Before meeting-space in our barn was completed she once sat at my kitchen table with local conservationists to strategize ways to protect land, an effort that later birthed the Hopewell Big Woods project. She held high ideals for public participation in government and was until recently active at public meetings designed to determine the future of farms and forests, relative to community needs, as our rural area becomes suburbanized.

Mrs. Morris was a persistent advocate. We could count on her to speak her mind, to tell township officials why open space needs to be protected and why their land use decisions matter. She was outspoken but retiring, preferring results over taking credit.

For those who cherish family lands she promoted tools to help them conserve these places. Thousands of acres of private lands are now protected for future generations with conservation easements she engineered. With her help dozens of historic sites are also protected including the Mill at Anselma. I was reminded by today’s article in The Daily Local News that French & Pickering’s defense of an easement that had been violated protected not just one farm but easements as a conservation tool, everywhere.

Mrs. Morris leaves a huge legacy on the land and inspires us all to do the right thing for open space for our communities and future generations.