by Michael Polemis, Former Chair of the CLC Board of Trustees
CLC is in the midst of celebrating our 25th anniversary, a significant institutional milestone. We have good reason to boast a bit about our accomplishments over the past 25 years: almost 22,000 acres under easement; 10 Public Conservation Areas, serving as a de facto county park system; more than 2,000 children participating annually in our education programs, to name just a few.
This year also marks my 25th year on CLC’s Board and my 15th as Board Chair. The time seems right for me to step down. I am thrilled that Debbie Lans has taken over as Board Chair. She will bring fresh ideas, energy, and insights to the Conservancy. Debbie will also have the two greatest assets that I have enjoyed during my tenure – a dedicated and generous Board and the most professional, dynamic staff in the land trust business.
One of the bedrock principals of land conservation is the notion of perpetuity. Land conserved by easement is land conserved forever. At CLC, we take that notion seriously, and we have every intention of remaining an important presence in this county – forever.
As a friend is fond of saying, “forever is a long time.” When CLC celebrates its 50th anniversary, and our 100th, it will matter little who the individuals were who were involved at its beginning. What will matter will be the impact of CLC on the daily lives of people in Columbia County. That impact will be measured in the tranquility of watching the sun set at Greenport Conservation Area, the awesome power of the cascade at High Falls Conservation Area, and the sound of children shrieking with delight as they chase frogs at Ooms Conservation Area at Sutherland Pond. It will be measured by the fact that Columbia County retains the scenic working landscapes and genuinely rural character that makes it such a special place. In the meantime, it can be measured by all of us if we stop and try to imagine for a moment what Columbia County would be like without the Columbia Land Conservancy.