President Curt Johnson Accepting The Connecticut Olmsted Award 

Climate March at State Capitol

Since 1992, CTASLA has recognized 26 recipients with the Connecticut Olmsted Award which is given annually to a person or organization in Connecticut that has employed the principle of stewardship of the land as the guiding force in their actions. The award honors the life and lasting legacy of Frederick Law Olmsted, a native son of Hartford who pioneered the modern landscape architecture profession as an advocate for public spaces and a steward of natural resources.

Throughout Olmsted’s life, Long Island Sound served as a source of inspiration and invigoration. When he was blinded by sumac poisoning prior to matriculating at Yale, he spent the summer in Old Saybrook with a family friend, swimming, hunting, fishing, and walking the beaches until his eyesight recovered. These precious weeks of a “decently restrained vagabond life” imparted upon young Frederick the importance of access to these natural resources.


As a young man, he apprenticed himself for a year as a sailor to the Ronaldson, a 330 ton clipper ship working the China trade. Olmsted was tasked with working the bilge pump, an occupation that he found humbling and quite disagreeable. While he vowed to never return to sea again, he continued to spend much time on his family sailboat, travelling down the Connecticut River between Hartford and Old Saybrook and along the coast to New Haven.


In his later career, Olmsted was hired by P.T. Barnum to transform 100 acres of Bridgeport’s rocky coast into a vibrant public park. The resulting design for Seaside Park combined modern amenities such as a horse track and pedestrian promenades with defining views of the Sound. As the city’s population grew eight-fold by the turn of the century, the park proved to be an essential oasis for relaxation and recreation.


Few organizations understand these economic, cultural, and natural benefits of Long Island Sound as well the recipient of this year’s award, Connecticut Fund for the Environment & Save the Sound. As a non-profit organization, they are committed to restoring and protecting all that impacts the region’s environment: rivers and shorelines: wetlands and forests; the air we all breathe; and the waters of the Sound itself. 


For more than 40 years, this organization has been ensuring that nine million residents in Connecticut and New York can enjoy the healthy, clean, and thriving environment they deserve—today and for generations to come. Their manifold efforts include legislative advocacy; legal action; engineering projects; environmental monitoring; and hands-on volunteer efforts. In accepting the award, President Curt Johnson quipped that he and his staff "stop bad things from happening to good land".


Connecticut Fund for the Environment & Save the Sound has been a pioneer in urban green infrastructure, installing rain gardens and bioswales that have become a model for Connecticut communities. And along our shoreline and waterways, their dam removals, fishways, and living shorelines have brought riverbanks and coastal marshes back to vibrant life.


Award Recipients

2020     Connecticut Fund for the Environment & Save the Sound

2019     U.S. Senator Chris Murphy

2018     Bushnell Park Foundation

2017     No award

2016     UConn CLEAR Program

2015     Chris Donnelly, Urban Forestry Coordinator, State of Connecticut

2014     Terry Backer, State Representative and Soundkeeper

2013     William DeMaio, Director of Parks and Recreation, City of New Britian

2012     No award

2011     Mary Donohue, CT Dept. of Economic and Community Development

2010     Steve Broderick, Goodwin Forest Conservation Education Center

2009     James Gustave Speth, Dean of the Yale School of Forestry and                               Environmental Studies 

2008     Peter L. Malkin, Merritt Parkway Conservancy 

2007     State Senator Andrew Roraback

2006     David Leff, Connecticut DEP/Author

2005     State Senator Bill Finch

2004     Green Valley Institute

2003     Town of Simsbury, CT

2002     Lieutenant Governor M. Jodi Rell and Senate President Pro Tempore                       Kevin B. Sullivan

2001     No award

2000     Jim Gibbons, Land Use Educator, University of Connecticut

1999     Jack Shannahan and the Connecticut Historical Commission

1998     Joshua's Tract Conservation and Historic Trust

1997     U.S. Senator Joseph I. Lieberman

1996     Land Preservation and Enhancement Program, Iroquois Gas Pipeline                     Company

1995     William Niering, Ph.D., Connecticut College

1994     Joseph Hickey, Connecticut DEP, State Parks

1993     Philip Barske, Ph.D., Applied Ecologist

1992     Richard Goodwin, Ph.D., Connecticut College

P.O. Box 209197, New Haven, CT 06520 

© 2021 by Connecticut Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects

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