25-25 Challenge: Why I care about Land

November 28, 2021

Opacum Board of Directors has stepped forward and pledged to match $25,000 of donations made to Opacum in the “25-25 Challenge!”

Learn more about why our Directors care about land protection and conservation. Each story is unique and resonates with why many of us care about conserving land in our local region. See stories below!

The Opacum Directors cannot do this work alone, and we invite you to rise to this challenge for 2021. With your help, we can raise $50,000 to scale up our land conservation work where you live.

“I love the outdoors, nature, the wind and the water. All of it. If we don’t pause to not only think about – but also act on – what happens if we do nothing to protect it, it will be gone before our eyes. There is no more land on this planet, what we have is all there is, and I feel compelled to do my small part in our small corner of the world to make it a better place.”

– Jennifer Morrison-Domiguez, Treasurer, Opacum Land Trust, Southbridge MA

Jenn is a hard-working business owner in Sturbridge, MA and, as you can see for yourself, has a great love and respect for the outdoors.

“I grew up in Bethesda, Maryland.  When we moved there in 1954 -our little neighborhood of starter homes was surrounded by hundreds of acres of forest.  I spent my youth playing in these woods.  I visited Bethesda in 1970 and was dismayed to see that my vast forest had been replaced by homes, businesses, strip malls and fast food.  No open land was set aside—they had literally paved paradise.  When Jennifer M. called me seven years ago to ask if I would be interested in joining Opacum it was an easy decision.  This plus the opportunity to work with such a talented group of land conservation professionals has made this a fulfilling experience for me.”

– Mark Conners, President, Opacum Land Trust, Brimfield MA

Mark, a resident of Brimfield, MA enjoys working with such an enthusiastic Board of Directors and Opacum Land Trust.

“People are the important part of Opacum. Our board is full of passionate, caring people. We care about each other and the work that we do. I feel a real connection to land protection. We work together to save special places for all. Working with Opacum, the towns, and Norcross Wildlife Foundation has allowed us to protect large swaths of open space – forests for people, for wildlife, and for our wellbeing and future. We live here because we love the forest and fields, we love that there are apple orchards and blueberry patches. We love our communities and want to make it better for those around us – even if they don’t know that they love the woods – we make sure that the woods are there to enjoy.”

– Leslie Duthie, Vice President, Opacum Land Trust, Monson MA

A special shout out to this Board of Director at Opacum Land Trust – Leslie has helped to protect over 1600 acres in Monson MA, her hometown for 40 years.

“You ask why I am an Opacum?

I grew up in housing project in an urban setting. The houses were duplexes, the yards were small and connected. But I was lucky enough to live near a section of town that still had some rural characteristics. There were still farms, fishing ponds, most brooks formed forested green-ways through much of the landscape. With direct access to the natural world, I had a childhood of playing in woods and building dams in the streams.

But things they were a changing, by the time I was off to college the farm fields were covered with homes and green-ways squeezed into narrow brushy drainage ditches, the water in them not safe at times for human contact.

As an Opacum Director, I do what I can to offer you and your children the opportunity to experience the joys and wonders of a world of nature that I did. By protecting those special landscapes.”

– Howie Fife, Founding Director, Opacum Land Trust, Palmer MA

Take it from Howie, a resident of Palmer and former DCR employee at Wells State Park, the importance and imprinting of special landscapes that we can protect for future generations to play in the woods and build little dams in streams.

“I love the outdoors and recognize the importance of protecting and preserving our dwindling open space lands, and volunteering and serving on the Opacum Land Trust’s Board of Directors is a perfect way for me to help in that effort. What moves me most about Opacum is the local aspect of the land trust. We work within a 13-community area, my home town of Monson being on the western edge of that territory. My hours volunteering in my community are very rewarding to me, and it’s a great feeling at the end of the day to see the finished trail work or know that we just protected another 66-acres of open space “forever”. And Opacum isn’t just about protecting land. Our tree planting project in Southbridge is an example of how the land trust is bringing nature to the people by planting trees for shade and beauty in urban communities. The best way I can express all of this is by taking members for a walk on one of our properties – I could show them what makes me so passionate about being part of Opacum Land Trust and how our team effort from our supporters can make land preservation a reality in our community.”

– Glenn Colburn, Stewardship Chair, Opacum Land Trust, Monson MA

Glenn sums up our drive and accomplishments in one great way – taking a walk on one of our properties in our local area.

“I am impressed by the effective and successful efforts of Opacum Land Trust (OLT), our small local conservation group of mostly volunteers. I strongly support OLT’s mission to protect our open spaces for the benefit of humans, wildlife (flora and fauna) and our planet in the midst of alarming climate change. We must act locally to help solve the global problem. OLT IS ON IT!!”

– Marita Tasse, Director, Opacum Land Trust, Sturbridge MA

Marita’s message is simple: we CAN act locally to help solve global problems, and in doing so benefit wildlife, provide clean air and water, and protect land for future generations.