Thousands of acres permanently protected from development
help keep the Brandywine watershed healthy

Catalyst for Conservation traces the history of the Brandywine Conservancy’s work to save the property from development, which ultimately resulted in permanently protecting 4,596 acres by conservation easements and setting aside another 771 acres as the Laurels Preserve. The streams and springs throughout the property continue to provide an estimated six million gallons a day to the Brandywine, which serves as the drinking water supply for the City of Wilmington, Delaware and numerous other communities in the Brandywine Watershed. Today, the Conservancy has permanently protected more than 45,000 acres, much of it resulting from the success of what became known as the “King Ranch project.”

“We had to convince people to take a huge risk and make a leap of faith by investing in this partnership,” continued Weymouth. “Interest rates were in the double digits, and we were requiring them to limit the amount of structures that could be built on the property. Fortunately, these partners were as committed as the Conservancy to keeping this magnificent landscape as open space. We are forever grateful to them.”

Catalyst for Conservation was written by David Shields and Bill Benson. Shields worked on the King Ranch project almost from its inception and currently works as associate director of the land stewardship program of the Brandywine Conservancy’s Environmental Management Center. Benson is the former director of the Chisholm Trail Heritage Center in Duncan, Oklahoma, and conducted archival research about the King Ranch and its former president, Robert J. Kleberg.

A book signing will be held at the Brandywine River Museum on Sunday, April 22, from 1 to 3 p.m., including a lecture by David Shields from 1 to 1:30 p.m.

Catalyst for Conservation is 112 pages long with more than 100 illustrations. The book costs $24.95 and is available Brandywine River Museum Shop and online at

Water resource protection and management have been the vital work of the Brandywine Conservancy since its founding in 1967. The Conservancy currently holds 441 conservation easements and has permanently protected more than 45,000 acres in southeastern Pennsylvania and northern Delaware. In Pennsylvania, the Brandywine Conservancy’s easement holdings represent more than 17% of the total acres of land under conservation easement in the Commonwealth. The Conservancy’s two programs, the Brandywine River Museum and Environmental Management Center, preserve art and the environment.