Barbara Yearman PA conservation figure

Barbara Sturgeon Yeaman

December 16, 1924 -

Barbara Yeaman grew up in Pittsburgh, where she saw the impacts of pollution from the steel mills and urban development. Perhaps that is why she has committed her life to protecting land and enhancing human quality of life?

Early in her career, Barbara worked for the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in D.C. as a Public Education Consultant and Water Conservation Coordinator. In the early 1980s, she moved to the Upper Delaware River region of Pennsylvania, where she became involved with the establishment of the Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River designation. It was her time spent working on this controversial project that led her see the value in using tools like conservation easements to protect land from development.

So in 1994 at the age of 70, Barbara founded the Delaware Highlands Conservancy. This accredited land trust serves Pike and Wayne counties in Pennsylvania, and Sullivan and Delaware counties in New York. It is dedicated to “conserving the natural heritage and quality of life” in the region. Barbara is quoted as saying, “I was waiting for someone else to do it, but that didn’t happen. I made a list of what was important to me, and starting a land trust was on the top of that list. I knew it could work.”

And work it did. The conservancy has protected more than 14,000 acres along the Upper Delaware River, which was named the Most Endangered River in 2010 by American Rivers.

Barbara has been recognized many times for her commitment to land conservation. For instance, in 2003 she was given the Environmental Partnership Award by the Pennsylvania Environmental Council.  In 2007 she received the Ralph W. Abele Conservation Heritage Award from the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission. The Pennsylvania Land Trust Association gave her their Lifetime Conservation Achievement Award in 2012.