CONNECTICUT OLMSTED AWARD
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.
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