In Tribute

Stuart Chase (1888-1985)

Noted historian, author, economist, conservationist and long-time Redding resident, Stuart Chase is known as the father of the open space movement in Redding. His early vision of the benefits of protected open space laid the cornerstone for what we have and enjoy in Redding today.

Samuel E. Hill (1913-1994)

The first chairman of the Conservation Commission (1964-1976), Sam Hill was a passionate conservationist and is responsible for the momentum that put in place many of the laws and regulations that protect open space in Redding today. The 288 acre easement that the Redding Land Trust holds on the Hill family property, Warrups Farm, is the largest in the Land Trust's holdings.

John Behan {1919-1991)

Chairman of the Conservation Commission from 1976 to 1980, John Behan's greatest contribution was perhaps an unflagging determination to turn the Steichen property into Topstone Park. As we enjoy the long view from its higher reaches and walk around the lake, let us remember (and thank) this eloquent Irishman who won public support for preservation when others thought the cause was lost.

Reeve Biggers (1913-1992)

Chairman of the Conservation Commission from 1985 to 1992, Reeve Biggers brought his collegial good humor and corporate skills to land-use regulation. Reeve cut through the red tape and simplified the process. An architect by training, an artist by choice, he contributed his mapmaking skills to the second Book of Trails. Gardening and fishing were his great loves and so was his adopted town of Redding.

Jo Polseno (1924-1992)

Artist and author, Jo Polseno's paintings of the Redding landscape won recognition outside our border, most notably Secrets of Redding Glen, and his art enhances The Book of Trails. Jo was no armchair naturalist. He prowled the back country, birding and sketching, our own Audubon. As a founding father of the Redding Land Trust, he did much to save the wild woods he knew so well.

Clois Ensor (1913-1998)

Musician and trail "blazer" who, with his wife Joan, literally created most of Redding's trail system, Clois Ensor served as vice-chairman of the Conservation Commission from 1985 to 1992. It is largely due to his indefatigable efforts that Redding has secured an integrated system of well-marked trails. His technical advice in the preparation of maps' and descriptions was critical in the preparation of this guide.

Jeremiah Ross (1934–2015)

Jere served 20 years on the Conservation Commission where his love of the natural world helped shape our open space, greenways and trails. He loved to get his boots on the ground, and his leadership inspired the naturalist in many of us. With a twinkle in his eyes he would always remind; “if it’s in the book we have to maintain it!”

Joan Ensor (1913-2016)

Co-author of the original The Book of Trails, president of the Redding Land Trust for ten years from 1977 to 1987, and long-time Trustee, Joan Ensor used her way with words and her love of hiking to give a lasting impetus to the Land Trust’s mission. A devoted public activist who also served on many of the Town’s governing boards and commissions, no cause was more important to her than the Redding Land Trust and the preservation of the Town’s natural landscapes.

She wrote in favor of the Town’s purchase of open space, “So come on everybody! Let’s live up to Redding’s tradition of far-sighed enlightened self-interest. Let’s all go out and vote to save yet another vital piece of open space for the kids – and for you and me” Great granddaughter of Nathaniel Hawthorn, her older brother, Benton Deming was the first president of the Redding Land Trust. Along with her husband Clois Ensor, Joan blazed many of Redding’s trails. Prolific journalist, published author and chronicler of Redding’s early years, she will long be remember for her formative role in shaping the success and future of the Redding Land Trust.

Mary Anne Guitar (1922-2017)

Beloved founder of the Redding Land Trust and its president for many years, Mary Anne Guitar was a pioneering leader in land conservation. She spent her lifetime motivating her friends and neighbors, indeed the whole Redding community, to become passionate preservers of open space. Her friends gave major tracts of land to the Land Trust in order to protect Redding’s unspoiled vistas of meadows, woods and river valleys. Other friends were generous supporters of the Land Trust’s public fund raising campaigns to purchase and preserve many of Redding’s beautiful natural landscapes which are to this day the envy of Fairfield County. Under her guidance through the years and with her continuing inspiration for the Redding Land Trust, the Trust has acquired more than 2,000 acres in property and easements.

Elected as Redding’s first woman First Selectman, a position she held for twelve years until 1989, Mary Anne used as her campaign motto - “Keep Redding Clean and Green” in support of her continuing efforts to support the Land Trust’s mission. Serving as First Selectman, she promoted the tradition of working with Redding’s surrounding conservation organizations, especially The Nature Conservancy, which often shared the cost of open space purchases in Redding with the Town. Her promotion of the Town’s purchase of open space with public monies expanded the preservation of Redding’s natural resources and strengthened the mission of the Land Trust and its cooperative work with Redding’s bipartisan Conservation Commission.

Mary Anne Guitar has left us an enduring legacy of pioneering conservation leadership and extraordinary public service. The Mary Anne Guitar Nature Preserve at the heart of Redding and will keep the memory of her extraordinary land saving achievements alive for us today and for many generations to come.