CLCC's Acceptance Speech for the Connecticut Community Foundation Trustees' Award for Excellence in Collaboration delivered at the awards ceremony on August 1, 2017.
I’m Amy Blaymore Paterson, executive director of the Connecticut Land Conservation Council. On behalf of CLCC and our partners, I would like to thank the CCF Board of Trustees for this award honoring excellence in collaboration. With me tonight are representatives from our partners in this project: Paul Elconin, Weantinoge Heritage Land Trust; Connie Manes, Litchfield Hills Greenprint Collaborative; Richard Heys and Dave Geiger, Litchfield Land Trust and Day Palmer, Watertown Land Trust. Representatives from Bethlehem Land Trust and the Land Trust Alliance were unable to join us.
As the State’s umbrella organization for the land conservation community, building relationships and fostering collaboration to strengthen land conservation is the cornerstone of all that we do. Receiving this award for excellence in collaboration is truly an honor.
There are 137 land trusts in Connecticut – the 3rd most in the country. Together they have protected over approximately 190,000 acres (and that is likely an underestimate). They vary in size, service area, number of members, number of volunteers, and capacity. Some are staffed, but most are all-volunteer. But the one constant is their steadfast dedication to doing whatever it takes to conserve land in perpetuity; it’s incredibly inspiring.
Our partners in this project are no exception. The Bethlehem Land Trust, Litchfield Land Trust and Watertown Land Trust have all made their mark in their respective communities, and in the region. Together they have conserved over 3800 acres.
And they do so much more. From conservation projects to trail development, educational programs to community farms, these small, all-volunteer land trusts are saving the special places that define their communities. But they can’t do it alone.
Our Advancement Initiative provides land trusts with technical assistance to help strengthen not only their individual organizations, but by bringing them together with other partners, also helps build a stronger, collective conservation impact in the region.
Unlike other Advancement Initiatives, where we have hired consultants to assist us with this effort, in this region we were able to tap into the expertise of two regional partners who are already providing valuable services to the area’s land trusts. The Northwest is truly a dream region! By involving the Weantinoge Heritage Land Trust and the Litchfield Hills Greenprint Collaborative, collaboration amongst the groups began immediately.
The project started with all of the land trusts together along with Weantinoge, Greenprint, CLCC and also the Land Trust Alliance (the national umbrella organization for land trusts), gathered around a table in Kent, sharing experiences, successes and challenges; and brainstorming on what services and assistance would help them in advancing their goals. There was a sense of camaraderie and trust right from the start.
Now, with the assessments undertaken by Weantinoge of each of the land trusts complete, the group will come together again to share their list of priorities, compare commonalities, and decide the next steps towards implementation of the projects.
As a coalition organization, CLCC is a believer in the notion of “stronger together” – by working together we build trust, take advantage of each other’s strengths and expertise, avoid reinventing the wheel, and work beyond town boundaries to protect more land and reach more people.
And as we all know, when it comes to land, water and air … natural resources don’t follow town boundaries!
Thank you, CCF, for being a part of this collaboration to help this dedicated group of land trusts advance their work in protecting the places that make Northwest Connecticut so special.