Two Longtime Conservation Commission Members Leave A Legacy Of Accomplishments

With more than 17 years of volunteer service between them, Mary Gaudet-Wilson and Marjorie Cramer stepped down recently from the Conservation Commission. Ms Gaudet-Wilson had served on the commission for seven years, and Ms Cramer had more than a decade to her credit.

On May 9 at Newtown Municipal Center, Land Use Secretary Tammy Hazen walked toward the meeting room with a special set of gifts in her hands. Mounted on a wooden backing were certificates of appreciation for each woman. First Selectman Pat Llodra presented the certificates to the women during a brief ceremony.

Referring to Ms Wilson and Ms Cramer as the “dynamic duo,” Mrs Llodra said, “I knew nothing about invasive species, but they made sure I knew all I needed to know.” She commended their commitment and passion to the conservation work they have done because, “We need and treasure this world that we are passing on, and Mary and Marj make sure we do that.” Mrs Llodra also joked that the two also made sure “that we fund the right things.”

She said, “Doing what matters and being persistent … Mary and Marj do that at the highest level.”

When Mrs Llodra learned they would be leaving the commission, she said, “I was worried.” But she then looked to the current commission members with confidence “that others are stepping in, although we’ll miss [Ms Wilson and Ms Cramer].”

In past years Mrs Llodra has worked with the two conservation members to fund initiatives for controlling invasive plants — non-native plants that often choke out indigenous plants.

“We’ve made progress,” Mrs Llodra said, with more to come.

Ms Wilson joked, “Once you learn to recognize invasives, your life is ruined.” Once certain plants such as garlic-mustard weed, bittersweet, barberry, and Japanese Knotweed are recognizable, they appear everywhere.

Ms Cramer offered a few thoughts.

“We have worked as a team,” she said. Although she felt they were often guided by “out-of-date” regulations, she feels the future is “well held” in the hands of the commission’s current members.

Thanking the Land Use Agency staff including Director George Benson and Deputy Director Rob Sibley, Administrative Assistant Ann Mazur, and Ms Hazen, Ms Cramer and Ms Wilson agreed “it was teamwork” that allows the commission to accomplish its mission.

Ms Wilson noted the documents and work generated by the commission that would be of use for future reference: she and Ms Cramer helped in rewriting Planning & Zoning regulations, Fairfield Hills meadow preservation initiatives, and their work with invasives. She also is confident in the new members who will continue the commission’s work.

Mr Benson next spoke. Although the two were now off the commission, he said their work would still be needed.

“We will miss you, but I know you’re not going away — I won’t let you,” he said.

As the ceremony ended, Mrs Cramer recalled briefly the story of how she joined the commission. When she had first moved to town and Herb Rosenthal was first selectman, she had attended the opening of Orchard Hill Nature Preserve. She said she had introduced herself. “I said ‘Hi, I’m new in town, what can I do?’ And the rest is history.”


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