The Pomperaug River Watershed Coalition (PRWC) recently held its annual benefit, Jazz at the Lake, at Tranquillity Farm in Middlebury. During the celebration, Frederick “Dick” Leavenworth, of Woodbury, CT, was presented with The Dr. Marc J. Taylor Environmental Stewardship Award. Dick was recognized as a tireless leader and advocate for protecting and enhancing the natural systems that make this corner of the world a special place. He has provided not only the Town of Woodbury but also Northwest Connecticut with decades of conservation leadership that has effected meaningful protection and progress in the preservation of natural systems. Through service on multiple boards including the Northwest Conservation District, Woodbury Conservation Commission, and Pomperaug River Watershed Coalition, Dick has ensured a balance in safeguarding land, water, flora, and fauna while allowing for careful development of the human landscape. He is a true champion for preserving open space and promoting low impact development practices.
Notably, Dick’s leadership in the open space acquisition of the Woodbury Reservoir started more than 50 years ago. Dick was instrumental in identifying the two parcels surrounding the former drinking water supply as high priority conservation land. He brought together elected officials, town commissions, environmental partners, and government agencies to outline the key environmental and cultural attributes of the property including the water supply, the historic trolley bed, development potential of the site, cause for preservation, and future recreational and educational opportunities. With great patience, perseverance, and tireless coalition-building, Dick’s vision for this acquisition became a reality in 2016 when the Town of Woodbury’s leadership with the support of Town residents purchased the property known today as The Trolley Bed Preserve. In his honor the Town dedicated the entranceway into the Preserve as the “Dick Leavenworth Corridor”.
PRWC’s Board of Directors established the Dr. Marc J. Taylor Environmental Stewardship Award in 2015 to honor Marc Taylor and his exceptional vision and long term exemplary commitment to environmental stewardship, and to recognize similar efforts by dedicated Connecticut conservationists. Past awardees include Margaret Minor of Rivers Alliance of Connecticut and Tom Crider of the Southbury Land Trust.
In presenting the award, Vince McDermott, PRWC Board Chairman, remarked: “On this beautiful day at majestic Tranquillity Farm it is an honor for me, on behalf of PRWC, to present Dick Leavenworth with the 2017 Dr. Marc J. Taylor Environmental Stewardship Award. The importance of his leadership and his conservation work cannot be overstated. He is a genuine man, highly regarded as a visionary and protectorate of all that surrounds us and one that we are all grateful to call a friend.”
In accepting the award Dick spoke of the importance of everyone’s actions toward environmental protection and stewardship. He emphasized the significance of Marc Taylor’s ability to passionately fight for water resource and land protection as well as the need to prepare the next generation of environmental stewards. Dick spoke of his honor in receiving the award and to having joined a distinguished group of past recipients.
In 1999, Marc Taylor and a group of his peers - including Dick Leavenworth - founded the Pomperaug River Watershed Coalition to study the quality and quantity of water in the Pomperaug Watershed, a 90-square mile area that touches eight towns in western Connecticut. PRWC works with watershed towns, regulatory agencies, environmental organizations and community volunteers to continue Dr. Taylor's legacy in stewarding the local water resources. For more information please visit: www.pomperaug.org or contact PRWC at 203-263-0076.
Vince McDermott (right) of Bethlehem presents the Dr. Marc J. Taylor Environmental Stewardship Award to Dick Leavenworth of Woodbury during the Pomperaug River Watershed Coalition's Annual Benefit held at Tranquillity Farm in Middlebury at the end of September.