CORNWALL BRIDGE — Housatonic Valley Association staff, board members, supporters, and friends gathered Dec. 15 in a virtual event, for the organization’s 81st annual meeting,
Hosted by HVA President Tony Zunino, the organization’s annual meeting and holiday gathering honored watershed heroes whose work will have a lasting, positive impact on the region’s environmental health for years to come, and featured guest speaker Scott Jackson, Department of Environmental Conservation, Extension Professor, UMass Amherst, according to a statement.
Lou and Elaine Hecht of Salisbury received the Lifetime Environmental Champion award “for their tireless environmental leadership, support, and contributions to protecting the land, waters, and wildlife of the Housatonic River Valley,” according to the HVA.
“Their decades of leadership with HVA as well as the Salisbury Conservation Commission, Salisbury Association Land Trust and Sharon Audubon Center, among others, helped build the Litchfield Hills Greenprint Collaborative of land trusts in Northwest Connecticut; shelter birds; shape and lead HVA’s Follow the Forest initiative; and create exhibits like Birds in Crisis and Come into the Forest to invite public understanding and action,” according to the HVA.
Guest speaker Scott Jackson received the Conservation Champion of the Year award for his expertise in wetland ecology, biodiversity and conservation that has helped guide the work of HVA and many others over the past 12 years. His landscape ecology research and the assessment and decision-making tools he and his team developed have helped transform land and water conservation across the region by guiding it to the most impactful places, according to the HVA.
Jackson’s presentation, “Coping with Climate Change in Your Community,” focused on personal and community-level action to safeguard our ecosystem, species, and biodiversity in the face of climate change – and help avoid climate-related disasters in the future. For example, increasing water storage in upper areas of the watershed to avoid severe flooding, or reconnecting upstream and downstream habitats in streams that are most likely to stay cool in the future.
“Our strategic focus is on protecting the most climate-resilient waters and lands across the tri-state Housatonic Valley,” said Lynn Werner, Executive Director.
“With the benefit of Scott’s work and the help of wonderful conservation partners and supporters, this year we advanced more than a dozen projects to restore streams in about half of our targeted areas from Great Barrington, Massachusetts to Dover, New York to Watertown, Connecticut,” Werner said. “As of this year we’ve also protected nearly 6,000 acres of key forestland and wildlife linkages that connect them, more than ten percent of our goal.”
According to members, “As the conservation organization dedicated to the entire 2,000 square-mile tristate Housatonic Watershed, HVA acts to protect the natural character and environmental health of the valley from the Berkshires to Long Island Sound for this and future generations. HVA works in three ways to establish climate-ready conditions across the region by 2040: Follow the Forest to conserve a 50,000-acre woodland and wildlife climate corridor for wildlife habitat, clean water, and carbon and temperature moderation; Clean, Cold and Connected to restore and protect 500 miles of rivers and streams and drinking water sources; and Education and Equitable Representation to engage the watershed’s diverse people and communities in equitable participation in and access to a clean, healthy, and climate-ready Housatonic Watershed.”
Learn more at www.hvatoday.org.