Maybe it’s because of her grandparents’ home. Molly Morrison spent a good deal of her childhood at their dairy farm in West Vincent Township. “From a formative age, I was aware of the importance of land and how the protection of land was a core element in how a community thinks about itself,” says the Thornbury Township resident. “I started to understand that, without a proactive effort to identify and protect open spaces, our quality of life—and part of our identity—would be diminished.”
As the head of Natural Lands Trust, Morrison oversees 42 nature preserves in 13 counties in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. The trust has conservation easements on another 22,000 acres. All told, Morrison has almost 44,000 acres under her protection—and she protects all of it fiercely. Once legal steps are taken, land is preserved into perpetuity. The Natural Lands Trust staff then educates owners about being good stewards by converting to natural grasses, restoring wetlands, perhaps even growing flowers native to the area.
And, of course, Morrison wants people to enjoy the land. “Our challenge now is to use these wonderful places we own and manage to connect people to nature,” she says. “We want to stock the next generation with individuals who care about preservation. You only conserve what you love, and you only love what you know and care about.”