Members support Aspetuck Land Trust at 50th birthday bash

Aspetuck Land Trust board of directors members Lissy Newman, Nancy Moon, Jacquie Littlejohn and Edward Kanze, naturalist and photographer. — Derek Sterling photo

Aspetuck Land Trust board of directors members Lissy Newman, Nancy Moon, Jacquie Littlejohn and Edward Kanze, naturalist and photographer. — Derek Sterling photo

Lissy Newman first got involved in the Aspetuck Land Trust when she and her family joined the drive to save Trout Brook Valley from development into a golf course and luxury houses back in the 1990s.

“Trying to protect Trout Brook Valley seemed like a massive and impossible job,” Newman said. “The role that the Aspetuck Land Trust and other organizations played was huge. It showed the power of how small groups can band together to create something huge.”

Now she is a longtime land trust board member and steward of the Newman-Poses Preserve in Westport, made possible in part by a gift from her parents, Joanne Woodward and Paul Newman. As children, she and her siblings used to play in the preserve, which was their backyard at the time, she said.

Newman was one of 200 hundred members who attended the land trust’s 50th anniversary celebration on Sept. 16 at the Pequot Library in Southport. Members munched on hors d’oeuvres and chatted with friends. Newman’s Own and the Aspetuck Brew Lab Inc. donated wine and local craft beer to add to the festivities.

Barlow’s Dream

After the reception, they gathered in the auditorium to watch the premiere of Barlow’s Dream, a video produced by Brian Russell and narrated by Newman, which examines what the land trust has achieved since its founding by Barlow Cutler-Wotton of Westport 50 years ago.

They also heard Edward Kanze, naturalist, author and photographer, speak on “The Enormous Value of the Small.”

While national parks and other large conserved areas are critical, Kanze’s presentation made the case for what local organizations like the land trust focus on — preserving small places of natural beauty that have a big impact on the lives of living organisms for centuries to come.

Since 1966, the land trust has conserved and protected more 1,700 acres in Easton, Fairfield, Weston and Westport.

“Being here this evening makes me so proud to be a member,” Newman said. “I call it the little land trust that could. Events like this help me reconnect and to think about how much I like everyone on the board. It’s amazing so many members showed up to show support.”

She said when she sees full parking lots at land trust preserves she realizes how much people need to get out and explore nature and said it makes her happy to see people enjoying the land with their children.

“Children are not just going to go out into woods by themselves,” she said. “Even a 10-minute walk with a toddler is good for you and good for them. It gives them a taste of things not made by other human beings. Nature allows you to free your mind and go into your own experiences.”

Ross Ogden, an Easton board member, praised the land trust’s accomplishment over the past 50 years, and success in preserving many landmark properties.

“It’s great to get together and celebrate those properties,” he said. “We’re always interested in preserving additional land, especially when we can connect new spaces to existing open space.”

He said he’s watching the town-owned South Park Avenue closely as the Board of Selectmen considers development options. The selectmen has said that protection of the Mill River is a top priority no matter what they decide.

“As a fisherman my first great interest is protection of the river,” he said.

James Prosek, artist, writer and naturalist, said he totally supports land preservation. He said he grew up fishing at the South Park Avenue site, which is home to coldwater trout.

“I love the town and the open spaces,” he said. “My thing is nature. My first choice is to see the South Park land protected. But I’m not a town leader and don’t have to worry about budgets and such.”

Prosek lives on the same street where he grew up in Easton and has no intention of leaving. He is working on an art exhibition at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West in Cody, Wyoming, about migration and writing a book about how and why humans name nature as they do.

“It is a lifelong interest,” he said.

Lisa Goldbecker was there with her dad, Alan Goldbecker of Easton, land trust vice president. She said her family has lived in Easton for 45 years, and she and her parents have been active in the land trust for many years and counting.

Jacquie Littlejohn, a board member from Weston said, “As one who enjoys hiking daily, I am very aware of the large role we humans play in the well-being or demise of our open spaces. I am grateful that more and more people have come to realize how important it is not only to preserve land but also to be mindful of its own inherent needs. We are fortunate to have these beautiful lands to enjoy and hopefully will remember that they also sustain the flora and fauna that depend on it. We at ALT try hard to balance these things.”

“It was a beautiful evening of celebrating the successful stewardship of open space and land preservation of the Aspetuck Land Trust,” State Sen. Tony Hwang, 28th District, said.

“As state senator representing Westport, Weston, Easton and Fairfield, it was an incredible privilege to express gratitude from the entire region for ALT’s invaluable contribution to our community for the past 50 years. Thank you and onward toward the next 50 years.”

David Brant, land trust executive director, thanked the members for all the support.

“It means so much,” he said. “Land does not preserve itself. People preserve the land; everyone in this room who took the time to write a check and do so many other things preserve the land. Our generous members make it possible for us to preserve and maintain local open spaces. People can become a part of our efforts and join us at aspetuck land trust.org.”

Aspetuck Land Trust board of directors celebrates 50 years: Lissy Newman (Westport), Bill Kupinse (Easton), Lisa Brodlie (vice president, Weston), Bill Kraekel (Easton), Dick Ritzel (president, Easton), Jacquie Littlejohn (Weston), Tom Johnson (Weston), Nancy Moon (Fairfield), Peter Oldershaw (Fairfield), Alan Goldbecker (vice president, Easton), Cynny Williams (Weston), Aili DiBonaventura (Fairfield), Ross Ogden (Easton), Heather Williams (vice president, Westport), Letitia Carter (Easton), Ralph Hodgson (Fairfield), Don Hyman (Fairfield), David Brant (executive director). — Derek Sterling photo

Aspetuck Land Trust board of directors celebrates 50 years: Lissy Newman (Westport), Bill Kupinse (Easton), Lisa Brodlie (vice president, Weston), Bill Kraekel (Easton), Dick Ritzel (president, Easton), Jacquie Littlejohn (Weston), Tom Johnson (Weston), Nancy Moon (Fairfield), Peter Oldershaw (Fairfield), Alan Goldbecker (vice president, Easton), Cynny Williams (Weston), Aili DiBonaventura (Fairfield), Ross Ogden (Easton), Heather Williams (vice president, Westport), Letitia Carter (Easton), Ralph Hodgson (Fairfield), Don Hyman (Fairfield), David Brant (executive director). — Derek Sterling photo

Edward Kanze, naturalist and photographer, with Ross Ogden of Easton, Lissy Newman of Westport, state Senator Tony Hwang and James Prosek of Easton. — Derek Sterling photo

Edward Kanze, naturalist and photographer, with Ross Ogden of Easton, Lissy Newman of Westport, state Senator Tony Hwang and James Prosek of Easton. — Derek Sterling photo

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