Polk Environmental Pioneer Helen Morrison Dead At 99

Helen Morrison, whose involvement in raising environmental awareness ranged from helping to fight the Cross-Florida Barge Canal to helping local schoolchildren understand the wonders of the natural environment, died last week at 99.

She is an example of the results of commitment to environmental progress in a place where there was little when she and her family arrived in Polk County in the 1950s.

Along with her late husband Ken, she was instrumental in founding Florida Bi-Partisans Civic Affairs Group, Defenders of Crooked Lake and Ridge Audubon Society.

A 25-acre piece of land near her home on Crooked Lake that was protected for years is now a Polk County preserve called Crooked Lake Sandhill, one of a collection of conservation purchases that now further the lake’s protection and what’s left of the native habitat around the lake.

For many residents in Babson Park, where Helen Morrison lived for much of her life, she is also remembered as the woman who brought wildlife to local schools and encouraged children to explore the outdoors through a network of trails called the Scrub Plum Preserve.

It is fitting that this year on Earth Day, April 21, there will an effort to honor her legacy with a day of litter cleanup and exotic plant removal in the Babson Park area. Everyone is invited and encouraged to participate. The event will begin at 9 a.m.

Watch for more details on gathering sites nearer to the event.

A memorial service to celebrate her life is planned sometime in May.