Mayor Nutter speaks at PEC dinner, Samuel & Eleanor Morris honored

Philadelphia Mayor Michael A. Nutter served as keynote speaker at the Pennsylvania Environmental Council’s (PEC) 38th Annual Philadelphia Dinner on June 10th.

“The Mayor’s recent announcement of a Director of Sustainability, his insightful reorganization of City operating departments, his increased funding for parks, and actions to increase green building is evidence that Philadelphia now has the leadership to make it the most sustainable city in America,” said Patrick Starr, Senior Vice President of PEC.

“Our Philadelphia Dinner attracts a broad spectrum of attendees from business, conservation non-profits, government and academia; it’s a terrific opportunity for the Mayor to share his vision with a diverse audience eager to support his initiatives.”

Some of Mayor Nutter’s environmental accomplishments since taking office in January include:
• Appointing Dr. Mark Alan Hughes to Director of Sustainability, a leadership position that will manage the City’s environmental policies and initiatives
• Budgeting additional $2.5 million for Fairmount Park, planting 3,500 to 4,000 trees
• Expanding the City’s single stream recycling program city-wide
• Supporting PEC’s Building Green report, which proposed solutions for overcoming barriers to building green in Philadelphia
• Spear-heading the largest city-wide cleanup in American history

Michael DiBerardinis, Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources was a special guest for the evening and spoke about Pennsylvania’s plan to use forests and soils to capture carbon emissions, as reported in the recent Carbon Management Advisory Group Report.

PEC also honored French and Pickering Creek Conservation Trust founders – the Honorable Samuel W.(post-humous) and Eleanor M. Morris – with the Curtin Winsor Award. The Award, named after the Council’s founder and longtime president, is given periodically to individuals and organizations who demonstrate outstanding commitment to protecting and conserving Pennsylvania’s environment.

“The Morris’s were in the vanguard of Pennsylvania’s conservation,” said Starr, “They recognized that land owners who cherished their land needed new tools to support land conservation. Today, Pennsylvania is a leader in the nation in the land trust movement, and in the number of farms and acres preserved. We owe a great deal to their insight and vision.”

Pennsylvania State Senator Andrew Dinniman, who introduced the Award at PEC’s Dinner said “Sam and Eleanor Morris were instrumental in land preservation and conservation throughout Chester County. Early on, they were true pioneers in the development of the conservation movement. This award is a fitting tribute to their legacy of protecting and preserving Pennsylvania’s open spaces and historic places.”

Samuel W. and Eleanor M. Morris founded the French and Pickering Creeks Conservation Trust in 1967, one of the first organizations in the country formed to protect both historic sites and open land. The northern Chester County area they were dedicated to protecting contains some of the most scenic lands in Pennsylvania, and is rich in sites of historic importance, including those associated with the early iron industry. The Trust is third in southeastern Pennsylvania for acres protected – more than 8,000 acres.

Samuel Morris (deceased, 1995) served in Pennsylvania’s General Assembly for 18 years. He served as Chairman of the House Agricultural and Rural Affairs Committee. Representative Morris was the prime sponsor of nationally recognized legislation that provided $100 million to purchase development rights on farms, and he sponsored legislation to have the French Creek designated as a Scenic River. For many years, he pressed for the passage of Pennsylvania’s conservation easement law, which was ultimately enacted in 2001.

After leading the French and Pickering Creeks Conservation Trust from its founding until 2002, Eleanor M. Morris formed the Samuel W. Morris Trust in 2004 to honor the memory of her late husband. The organization promotes the conservation and preservation of northern Chester County’s essential natural, cultural and recreational resources. Mrs. Morris vigorously and successfully defended a critical conservation easement in a precedent setting case that went to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

“My parents had the foresight to recognize that development pressures would have a major impact on our landscapes and waterways well in advance of the surge in building that we have seen in recent years,” said Eleanor Morris Illoway, daughter of Sam and Eleanor. “Their visionary work in using easements to protect open space, giving farmers a way to save agricultural land that had been in their families had farmed for generations, and protecting watersheds for future generations was remarkable. It is wonderful to have their hard work honored by the PEC.”