The Harvard Forest, the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy and Highstead Foundation, along with their partners in Academics for Land Protection in New England (ALPINE), today recognized the University of Massachusetts Amherst with the Charles H.W. Foster Award for Academic Leadership in Land Conservation. The ceremony was held in the Olver Design Building, a wood building on campus that permanently sequesters an estimated 2,000 tons of carbon, the equivalent of taking 400 cars off the road for a year.
Massachusetts Secretary of the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs Kathleen A. Theoharides gave the keynote address to approximately 100 attendees at the event, where a commemorative plaque was presented to UMass Amherst Deputy Chancellor Steven Goodwin. ALPINE, a collaborative network of 40 academic institutions, selected the university “for its exemplary leadership in the field of land conservation in the region,” said James Levitt, who manages the Lincoln Institute’s land conservation programs and is ALPINE’s director.
He added, “With the award ceremony held today, we celebrate the achievements of the University to date, and the remarkable career of professor David Kittredge, who has been instrumental in shaping the university’s conservation efforts. We also celebrate the promise shown by future generations now being trained at the university and reached through the campus’s extension programs to effectively address the profound conservation challenges which the citizens of Massachusetts will continue to face in this era of climate change.”
Specifically, the campus was cited for its teaching, research and outreach efforts in land and resource conservation. The award recognizes UMass Amherst faculty and researchers “who have made profound contributions to land conservation in Massachusetts” and “whose teaching and research are critical to our understanding of the effectiveness of conservation practice in the 21st century.”
Kittredge, a retired professor and extension forester, received special recognition for more than 30 years of service to land and woodlot owners in the Commonwealth. Kittredge was hailed for founding the Massachusetts Keystone Project, a workshop held every year since 1988 to promote forest conservation. The ALPINE committee also singled out former congressman and UMass professor John Olver, calling him “an exceptional champion of land conservation and environmental stewardship.”
Other guests in attendance who were recognized for their conservation accomplishments were UMass Amherst alumni and students, including Gary Clayton, president of Mass Audubon; Jane Difley, president of the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests; Leigh Youngblood, executive director of the Mount Grace Land Conservation Trust; and Keith Ross, senior advisor at LandVest in the North Quabbin region.
Clayton, who earned an M.S. degree in fisheries biology in 1976, says his time at UMass Amherst “proved to be a great academic experience and led to, for me, a career in conservation both in the public policy and the non-profit arenas.” He adds, “I very much like to believe that Massachusetts set the pace for environmental protection initiatives in New England and, in some cases, nationwide.”
The Charles H.W. Foster award is named in memory of the late Harvard professor Charles “Hank” Foster, the first Secretary of the Massachusetts Executive Office of Environmental Affairs, a former dean of the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies and the first paid executive director of The Nature Conservancy. ALPINE gave its first Foster award to Middlebury College in 2015 to recognize its investment of an alumni gift to protect its Bread Loaf Campus, a forest and center for creative writing.