“[The most rewarding part of my involvement with Redding Land Trust] is [h]aving those who knew the rural Redding of years ago come back to town and marvel that it hasn’t changed a bit.”
Mary Anne Guitar, receiving the 2013 Connecticut Land Conservation Council Excellence in Conservation Award
Mary Anne Guitar, longtime president and one of the founders of the Redding Land Trust, passed away at age 95 on July 18. Also a former Redding First Selectwoman and state leader in land conservation, Mary Anne was active in the Redding Land Trust right up to the end, including sending an inspirational welcome video at the land trust’s last annual meeting.
I first met Mary Anne in early 2011, when she asked me to speak at the Redding Land Trust’s (RLT) annual meeting. To better familiarize myself with the land trust, I read portions of RLT’s Book of Trails and had the great pleasure of engaging in lengthy conversations with Mary Anne, who proudly shared the details of where the land trust started and all that they accomplished in land conservation along the long road towards achieving Accreditation.
I learned that Mary Anne was one of the five incorporators of the RLT in 1965 – one of the earliest land trusts in the state of Connecticut. Within a year after its founding, the RLT received its first land donation of 4 acres. With remarkable foresight, Mary Anne, along with Redding’s first Conservation Commission Chairman Sam Hill, proposed that at least 20 percent of the area of the town be preserved as open space, leading to a unanimous vote by town residents in 1967 to spend over a million of the town’s own funds on open space purchases. Since that time, the RLT has grown to protect over 1700 acres - held safely in trust for present and future generations - and the Town has preserved almost 4000 acres of open space.
The RLT has upheld the highest standards of quality stewardship and an impressive commitment to trail development, through a model of partnerships and collaborations among the land trust, the town’s leaders and conservation commission, as well as other conservation organizations and neighboring towns of Easton and Weston and the State of CT.
What remained constant throughout this organizational journey was Mary Anne’s extraordinary leadership and commitment to the land trust’s mission -- ensuring that the land is conserved forever and cared for in way that balances the need to protect Redding’s natural resources with the public’s need for trails and areas to recreate.
On the state-wide level, Mary Anne was involved in the creation of the Land Trust Service Bureau in the 1980s, a predecessor organization to CLCC. In 2013, CLCC had an opportunity to honor 91-year-old Mary Anne with the 2013 Excellence in Conservation Award for her lifetime of work protecting open space in Redding.
When asked the most rewarding aspect of her involvement with the Redding Land Trust, Mary Anne proclaimed: “Having those who knew the rural Redding of years ago come back to town and marvel that it hasn’t changed a bit.”
Thank you, Mary Anne, for turning your vision of a forever rural Redding into a reality.
The Trustees of the Redding Land Trust are sponsoring, with Mary Anne Guitar’s family and friends, an outdoor, public memorial gathering on August 12th, at 4:30 pm, at the Lonetown Meadow (tented and accessible), 43 Lonetown Rd., Redding, with a reception to follow.
With warmest regards,
Amy Blaymore Paterson, Executive Director