Conference 2019 Wrap-Up

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What a day! Our 35th Annual Conference was our biggest yet!

A record-setting 550 conservationists from across Connecticut and beyond joined us at Wesleyan University for the 2019 Connecticut Land Conservation Conference.

These attendees represented more than 75 land trusts, 41 conservation and inland/wetland commissions, and at least 51 other conservation organizations on both the state and national level. Also in attendance were participants from 22 local high schools and universities.

The Welcome Address and Call to Action

CLCC Executive Director Amy Blaymore Paterson kicked off the day with a welcome address and call to action. An excerpt is as follows:

"At the Land Trust Rally in Pittsburgh last October, Land Trust Alliance President Andrew Bowman shared the Columbia Land Trust's "Fearless Conservation Campaign”. Serving Washington and Oregon, the Columbia Land Trust describes this as a “bold agenda for science-based, community driven stewardship", outlining their short and long-term plans to protect the most important places in the Northwest.

I was inspired.

These are perilous times for our natural environment. We must be strong and vocal in our fight to keep land conservation front-and-center at the local, state, and federal levels — as well as in the minds of people across the state. On November 6,  you and other CT voters did just that with the resounding passage of Ballot Question #2 — giving us a constitutional amendment to ensure a comprehensive and transparent process to protect public lands.

Thank you for making this historic victory possible and sending an emphatic message that Connecticut is strongly committed to protecting our land, water and other natural resources.

But there is so much work to be done.... [and] time is running out.

As part of your conference materials, we’ve included our annual call to action in support of land conservation.  Please take a look. More importantly, take action…

Those who oppose our work are bombarding legislators urging them to vote against the bills we care about. We must be equally as vocal, strong and relentless in our advocacy in support of legislation that will protect our land, water, and other natural resources.

We know what we can achieve when we stand together.  Now is our time to be fearless!

Thank you for taking action and for all you do."

Excellence in Conservation Awards Ceremony

The CLCC Excellence in Conservation Awards are presented annually at the Conference, recognizing organizations and individuals who have made a substantive contribution to the ongoing success of land conservation in our state. Full descriptions of all award recipients may be found here »

Presented by the Chair of CLCC's Board of Directors, Catherine Rawson (Weantinoge Heritage Land Trust), the 2019 CLCC Excellence in Conservation Organization Award went to the Heritage Land Preservation Trust for their Coe Brass Dam Preserve project.

Following the organizational award presentations, Leavenworth "Lem" P. Sperry, Jr., was honored with the Katchen Coley Award for Excellence in Land Conservation. Named in honor and memory of longtime CLCC Steering Committee member Katchen Coley (1924-2013).

Read more about our outstanding 2019 award winners here »

The Keynote Address

Conservation, Meet Development: The Role of Land Protection in Building Resilient Communities

The Chair of CLCC’s Board of Directors, Catherine Rawson, had the distinct pleasure of introducing David Vallee as the 2018 keynote speaker. David is Hydrologist-in-Charge of the NOAA/NWS/Northeast River Forecast Center.

Mr. Vallee’s compelling address discussed the role that land trusts can play in supporting community vitality.

…In view of predictive models of climate change, coordinated land use planning is more important now than ever before. And yet, conservation and development are typically discussed in either/or terms, rather than complementary considerations. Land Trusts can play an important role in supporting community vitality, by strategically preserving and utilizing land it in a way that enhances water storage during high flow events, while also serving to improve local habitats, maintain farmland and extend recreational opportunities throughout the year…

He challenged us to look for opportunities for our organizations to engage in land use planning in innovative ways. Mr. Vallee’s talk was followed by a Q&A with members of our audience.

Plenary Session Conversation Getting Land Conservation Into the Room Where it Happens featuring CT DEEP Commissioner Katie Dykes

With a new administration, our land conservation community has a fresh opportunity to discuss our vision for accelerating the pace of land conservation in Connecticut over the next four years.  We were thus honored to have Katie Dykes, Commissioner, CT Department of Energy and Environmental Protection join us as our 2019 keynote speaker. Commissioner Dykes provided our audience with insights into her personal connection to the land (including a description of some time spent in Mongolia), while also reaffirming the agency’s commitment to programs important to the land conservation community — including the Open Space and Watershed Land Acquisition Grant Program.

Following the Commissioner’s remarks, Eric Hammerling (CT Forest & Park Association) and David Sutherland (The Nature Conservancy) members of the Lamont-Bysiewicz Transition Team Environment Policy Committee, presented the committee’s top policy recommendations with respect to land conservation. Our Plenary Session Conversation continued with an audience Q&A. Joining the Commissioner, Eric and David, were James Albis, former State Representative for the 99th district, now serving as Senior Advisor to the Commissioner, and Graham Stevens, Director, CT DEEP Office of Constituent Affairs/Land Management.

Amy wrapped up the Plenary Session by sharing an excerpt from a speech given by Suzi Wilkins at the 1st Land Trust Convocation on September 10, 1983:

"… [L]ook at you, look at you, collectively. You do not realize your collective strength, your collective capabilities. With improved cooperation and increased interaction, the potentials for land conservation in this state are mind-boggling…

I hope that… you will come away from today’s Convocation with new knowledge and a new sense of the whole being bigger than the its parts and that you will be willing to make a commitment to the future of the land trust movement in Connecticut... 

Indeed, CT is on the cutting edge. Will we sit back and rest on our laurels? Or will we continue to hone this tool [known as the land trust], improving and refining it to meet new needs and new challenges in land conservation?

I believe we can move forward, by working together. I believe we can remain on the cutting edge. But it is your conservation tool. The choice is up to you."

Workshops & Roundtables

The 2019 Conference curriculum featured 52 workshops, led by over 105 faculty members, comprised of national and state experts, federal and state officials, and Connecticut land trust volunteers and staff. Detailed descriptions of each of the workshops and faculty bios may be found in the Conference program here »

Also participating in the 2019 Conference were five legislators from the Connecticut General Assembly (Senators Christine Cohen and George Logan, and Representatives Mike Demicco, Joe Gresko, and Christine Palm), as well as United States Senator Richard Blumenthal. We were so honored to have them join us and thank them for their leadership in protecting and defending our environment.

Thank you 2019 Conference Sponsors

We strive to keep the event as affordable as possible and we could not do it without the strong support of our Sponsors. A huge thanks to all of our sponsors, including our 2019 Conference Patron, Eversource Energy, whose generosity enabled us to provide scholarships to at least 10 students.

Thirty-six land trusts joined us this year as sponsors, including leadership level support from Burlington Land Trust and Middlesex Land Trust.

Additional leadership support was provided by Aquarion Water Company; Audubon Connecticut; Blue Earth Compost; Connecticut Forest & Park Association; Cooper, Whitney, & Francois Attorneys at Law; Danosky & Associates; Farm Credit East; Housatonic Valley Association; Land Trust Alliance; Little Green Light; Manes Consulting, LLC; The Nature Conservancy; and The Trust for Public Land. Please see a full list of our 2019 Sponsors here, including Conservation Service Providers that are listed in CLCC’s 2019 Service Provider Directory.

Conference Planning Committee and Volunteers

Thank you to members of our outstanding volunteer Conference Planning Committee, many of whom also served as event day volunteers: David Brown, Margot Burns, Connie Manes, Elisabeth Moore, Shirley Nichols, Catherine Rawson, Sarah Shrewsbury, Chuck Toal, and Humphrey Tyler.

Additional volunteer support was provided by: Gail Bennett, Amanda Branson, Jeff Cameron, Tom Finnegan, Marty Gosselin, Terry Grady, Nathyn Horvath, Gabriel Mehra, Rick Newton, Lisa O'Brien-Russel, Mikayla Rafala, Lindsay Suhr, Humphrey Tyler, Jennifer Zapatka.

Special thanks goes to Kate Frank, Patty Meglio, and Dorene Warner (W Design - Smart Solutions for Clear Communication) for print materials and web design; and David Brown for his amazing “whatever you need – whatever it takes – I’m here to help” support throughout the day. Program cover photograph courtesy of Libby Lord. Tech production by David Emond.

2018 Conference Photos

Photos taken from the 2019 Connecticut Land Conservation Conference can be found on our Facebook page here »

Feel free to tag yourselves in any photos! *Please note: If you share or otherwise utilize any of these photographs, please credit our wonderful volunteer photographer for the day: Lisa O'Brien,, Instagram: birdddog1 (unless otherwise noted).*

OUR NEXT: Connecticut Land Conservation Conference

We're planning our next conference and we value your input.

Please contact CLCC Executive Director Amy B. Paterson at or at (860) 614-8537, or Operations Manager Cristina Hayden at, if you have ideas for 2021 and/or would like to be part of our 2021 Connecticut Land Conservation Conference Planning Committee.

Previous Conferences

Interested in reading about past conferences? Check out past years' conference wrap-ups…