Fifty years ago, Redding conservation pioneers had a great idea – incorporate a land-saving organization in a town blessed with one of the most beautiful natural areas in Connecticut. An original incorporator of the Redding Land Trust (RLT) who is today its president, is renowned Mary Anne Guitar. She blew out the candles on the anniversary cake at the annual meeting at Highstead on April 12 and delighted her audience of Trust supporters with her humor, wit and clear-sighted vision.
Introducing the dedicated trustee volunteers, Guitar also recognized former trustee and RLT President Joan Ensor, who at the age of 102 years was in the audience to celebrate this golden anniversary occasion. Reporting on the achievements of the past year, Guitar also offered former trustee Gene Connolly special thanks for his gift of an easement with rolling distant views from Redding Ridge and noted that another generous donor, Lottie Fields, had left the Trust in her will a magnificent property in West Redding that would soon have public walking trails.
Confessing that she was at heart a Luddite drawn reluctantly into the digital world, she accused her computer of sensing this treason and going blank in revenge as she was composing her final report. That report she assured her audience would be available on the Land Trust’s new website at www.reddingctlandtrust.org soon. Recalling her childhood days spent roaming freely in the streams and woods of her native Missouri she urged today’s generations - wedded to cell phones and computers - to abandon their devices and wander among the wonders and surprises of the natural world instead.
Trustees Sean McNamara and Henry (Buzz) Merritt spoke of the sound fiscal position of the RLT, offering copies of the 2014 financial statement for all to examine and confirming the expert investment management of the Trust’s endowment fund. Trustee Emily d’Aulaire placed the names of David Heald, Gordon Loery and Laurie Heiss in nomination for re-election to the Board and introduced Kevin Tschudi for first time election, citing his commitment to Redding, his contributions as a Trail Tender and his organizational skills as manager of all new construction at 700 Starwood Hotels. All were unanimously elected by the Membership.
First Selectman Julia Pemberton presented a proclamation to the RLT on this milestone anniversary, citing its dedication to preserving the natural priceless treasures of this unique town. The text of the citation may be read on the Trust’s website.
Long-time civic planner John Hayes who has prepared Redding’s Town Plan of Conservation and Development received the Redding Land Trust Leadership Award in Conservation, with praises offered by Trustee Merritt for his consummate credentials and commitment which have benefitted not only Redding but surrounding towns. Chair of the Planning Commission Diane Taylor also paid tribute to Mr. Hayes, citing his ground-breaking role in establishing model land-saving procedures and policies for the Town.
The meeting closed with the showing of photographer Paul Shapiro’s new film, “A Love Letter to Redding,” which left its audience entranced with the magical views of the special beauty of Redding’s unspoiled wild and peaceful landscapes, bright with fall colors or blanketed in stately snow – Saugatuck Natural Area, Brinckerhoff Preserve, the Great Ledge, and Warrup’s and New Pond Farms, among them,. The film is available on the Trust’s website and CD copies will soon be available.
A warm sense of community and shared love of Redding permeated the room and continued as friends and neighbors drank wine, ate and socialized while the sun grew hazier in the western sky.