The Brandywine is more than a
scenic and historic waterway. It’s a major source of drinking water for hundreds of thousands of people. Someone has to make sure it
by Josephine Eccel Published March 12, 2010 at 09:33 AM
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In December, for example, The Brandywine Conservancy and Honey Brook Township in Chester County jointly purchased a 68-acre conservation easement that was placed on a private property at the headwaters of the West Branch of the Brandywine. Protecting the 40 acres of mature woodland and 28 acres of farmland helps ensure water quality, as well as some plant species of “special concern” to the Pennsylvania Biological Survey.
“It’s extremely complex,” says conservancy trustee Heather Evans, who serves on the environmental committee. She describes Evans-Stanton as a tireless manager with the legal and technical savvy to work with all sides of an issue and who respects the expertise of her staff. And “she is quite passionate.”
“The misconception is that this is a locally focused group,” Evans says. “There are federal, state and local issues that she keeps on top of.”
Evans-Stanton has a national reputation, says George A. “Frolic” Weymouth, chairman of the board and one of the conservancy’s founders. That reputation is an asset for an organization that has been a model for dozens of conservation groups across the country. “We are very lucky to have her,” he says. “She can be tough when she wants to be, and you need that.”
Evans-Stanton moved to Delaware eight years ago from North Carolina, where she had been senior staff attorney with that state’s general assembly. She also served as a consultant to the North Carolina Clean Water Management Trust.
On her desk, a cobalt blue mug with Jocassee Gorges printed in bold white letters reminds her of her last years in North Carolina. By then she had been appointed to the state’s Department of Environment and Natural Resources, first as assistant secretary for natural resources, then as deputy secretary for policy and programs.
The Jocassee Gorges area is a pristine piece of real estate in the easternmost rain forest in the United States. The area encompasses raging rivers and spectacular waterfalls. Though part of the area was slated to become mountainside home sites, the governor favored preservation. Preservation became a priority that had to be balanced with the owner’s property rights and without alienating sportsmen who hunted in the area. It’s now a state park. Evans-Stanton calls it “one of our biggest accomplishments.”
Leaving North Carolina was “tough,” Evans-Stanton says, but her home in Delaware is a short walk from Brandywine Creek State Park. “That was a factor when we moved,” she says. Her husband, Mark Stanton, was offered a full professorship at the University of Delaware, so staying in North Carolina was not an option.
“I loved Chapel Hill,” Evans-Stanton says. “But I’ve looked at each move as an adventure. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do at the time, but I found some interesting things, and it led to this job, and I just love it. And [Delaware] really feels like home now.”