GLT presidents from 1971-1992. L to R: Paul van der Stricht, Frank Coyle, Dick McClung, Langdon Van Norden, Kitty Starr, Louisa Stone.
As far back as the 1960’s, there was a growing sense among a prescient group of Greenwich citizens of the fragile, yet vital nature of the town’s natural environment. The need for a local land trust in Greenwich was recognized more than a decade before Greenwich Land Trust was actually incorporated in 1976.Daniel Badger, who served as chairman of the Town of Greenwich Conservation Commission from 1964-68, was among the first to see the need for a local land trust and sought other members of the community to help pursue the effort. Simultaneously, The Greenwich Garden Club, in response to a challenge from the national president of the Garden Clubs of America, joined in and took up the call in Greenwich, appointing a committee to research ways to preserve open space in Greenwich. By 1970, the committee expanded its outreach in the community to include other conservation oriented Greenwich citizens, and sought to join forces with another existing organization (Greenwich Audubon) in town to form a land trust. The Greenwich Audubon Society’s Board agreed to “launch the activity and later have it become an independent entity.” By the fall of 1971, the Greenwich Audubon land trust division became operative and The Greenwich Garden Club donated $5,000 to the new effort. Within the first 18 months of its inception, the land trust division received 14 properties covering 85 acres, including a 37 acre tract from the Gimbel Foundation.
Left: Paul van der Stricht, Founding President; Right: Julius Silver and Louisa Stone.
Under the leadership of Greenwich Audubon Society President Paul van der Stricht, a land trust advocate, the concerted quest for preservation of open space in Greenwich began. At its December 1970 meeting, The Board of the Greenwich Audubon Society voted that an autonomous land trust division be formed. The governing committee consisted of Greenwich citizens whose names today are synonymous with land preservation in Greenwich, including Daniel Badger, Frank Coyle, F. Richards Ford, III. Mrs. Reynolds Girdler, Mrs. Gerrish H. Milliken, Jr., Mrs. Danforth (Kitty) Starr. (President of the Greenwich Garden Club), and Paul van der Stricht.
By 1975, the Greenwich Audubon Society land trust division was ready to stand on its own. In July 1976, Greenwich Land Trust (GLT) was incorporated as a separate, non-profit, tax exempt organization. While the Gimbel property and four others remained with the Greenwich Audubon Society, GLT assumed more than 30 properties distributed over 80 acres. Paul van der Stricht was elected president and served GLT in that capacity for 10 years. At the conclusion of his tenure, GLT had acquired an additional 50 properties.
The expanding roster of properties required investment in both administrative and stewardship efforts. In l987, Daniel Barrett, a highly regarded marine biology teacher at Greenwich High School, was appointed the first Executive Director with a mandate to develop and coordinate stewardship efforts among board and volunteers to oversee the properties.
Today, GLT is a nationally accredited land trust, part of the 1,700 member Land Trust Alliance. GLT has a professional staff with expertise in land management and environmental sciences. In addition, GLT has dozens of dedicated volunteers who help to protect and care for more than 748 acres of open space throughout Greenwich. In 2015, GLT moved its offices and operations to a new center for conservation, education and outreach at the historic four acre Louise Mueller Preserve at 370 Round Hill Road.
Paul van der Stricht
Frank J. Coyle
Richard G. McClung
Langdon Van Norden
Louisa H. Stone
Edward L. Hicks, III
David P. Agnew
James W. Cobbs
N. George Host
David F. Ogilvy
Leslie S. Lee
William H. Boysen, Jr
Jane D. Hogeman
Janice Trebbi Richards