Marc Evans has spent his career locating, exploring, and then working to preserve unique natural areas. As senior ecologist for the Kentucky Nature Preserves Commission, he carries out the states Natural Areas Inventory, looking for places to recommend for protection as nature preserves. The area may provide habitat for rare or endangered plants or animals, or it may represent an entire ecosystem that is rare elsewhere.
Blanton Forest, the area Marc shows off in the Electronic Field Trip to the Forest, was one of his prize finds. This 2,350-acre forest on the southern slope of Pine Mountain in Harlan County is the largest stand of old-growth forest left in Kentuckysome of its trees date back to the days when Daniel Boone and other white pioneers were first exploring the state. While much of the surrounding forest was being sold to lumber companies in the early 20th century, local landowner Grover Blanton resisted all offers and kept this patch of woods intact. Marc came across it in 1992 and recognized it as a true ecological treasure. Thanks to his efforts and a private fund-raising campaign, Blanton Forest was purchased from Grover Blantons heirs and donated to the state. It opened to the public as a state nature preserve in the fall of 2001.
A graduate of Southern Illinois University, where he earned both a bachelors and a masters in botany and ecology, Marc has worked for the KNPC for more than 20 years. Before that, he worked for the Illinois Department of Conservation and as an independent biological consultant.
Since moving to Kentucky, he has started the states first native-plant nursery, Shooting Star Nursery in Frankfort, and created the Kentucky Large Forest Block Project. He also serves on the boards of the Kentucky Natural Lands Trust and Bernheim Forest, a privately run forest and arboretum in Nelson and Bullitt counties.