The Farmington Land Trust and Connecticut conservation community lost two heroes this month with the passing of Charlie Leach and Liz Dolphin.
A Farmington Land Trust (FLT) board member and past President, Charlie served on CLCC’s Steering Committee and Advocacy Subcommittee when I joined the organization in 2010. Friendly and welcoming, Charlie immediately invited me to join him for a hike at a FLT preserve.
I’ll never forget when he asked if I knew how Connecticut’s property encroachment statute had come about. When I confessed that I didn’t, he said, “I’ll show you.” Charlie led me to the spot on the preserve where trees had been illegally clear cut and shared the details of the inspiring lobbying effort that led to the enactment of C.G.S. Section 52-560a. In recognition of Charlie’s leadership in advocating for that law, he was honored with the Volunteer of the Year Award by the Land Trust Alliance.
Other memorable visits with Charlie included a tour of the New Britain Museum of American Art, where we talked about expanding conservation into urban areas, and dinner at his home where I had the pleasure of meeting his beloved wife, Joanie, before heading to a FLT board meeting.
I became acquainted with Liz many years earlier when she was the Farmington assistant town planner and I was practicing land use law. I was delighted to hear from her in 2019 when she accepted the position as FLT executive director. Liz jumped right in and expressed her excitement for opportunities to learn more about land trust operations and governance. She most recently participated in CLCC’s program to explore regional collaboration in the Farmington River Valley, bringing energy, enthusiasm, and vision to our discussions.
Charlie and Liz were giants in land conservation and community service—and caring, intelligent, and passionate people to boot.
They will be missed.
Photo: Enjoying time with Charlie Leach at the 2012 CT Land Conservation Conference.