The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, July 16, 1999


Conservationist award goes to Greg Peterson

Conservation commission chair Jo Rita Jordan made the following speech in honor of Indian Hill Road resident Greg Peterson who was honored as the Conservationist of the Year.

Most of us live in Carlisle at least in part for its beauty. We've got trees and fields and ponds, and a lot of it is owned as conservation land by the town. Living with all that open space is a blessingbut it doesn't come easy. A band of dedicated people work to keep it open, without pay or often even recognition.

Every year, the conservation commission honors one of these volunteers for their tireless dedicationand for the results they pull out of their battered sun hats.

In the past year or so, the biggest story in the open land saga was the purchase of a large farm lying along the Concord River between Foss Farm and the Greenough Land. The O'Rourke Farm is 125 acres of wide-open fields, prime development land. As events played out on the pages of the Mosquito, there were glitches and stumbles, but the town voted to buy it. Then came the crowning announcementthe federal government would buy the land from us and add it to the Great Meadows Wildlife Preservation area. It would stay open, with town trails and water rights, but at little cost to the town. What fantastic luck!

It wasn't luck. It was brilliant hard work on the part of this year's Conservationist of the Year, who, along with many others, spent long hours negotiating both the purchase and the subsequent sale to the Fish and Wildlife folks. It involved getting to know the O'Rourkes and their land and working tirelessly with the offices of U.S. Representative Marty Meehan and Senator Ted Kennedy, strong supporters of the project.

When the ConsCom decides on the annual honoree, we talk among ourselves and ask opinions of the town conservation leaders. This year, one name came up again and again. One said, "He has done more in a short time than most do in a lifetime." Another said, "When it seemed that the sky was falling, he would wave his fingers, and the problem would go away."

Maybe it's because he came from Missoula, Montana, that legendary cradle of Strong Folks. Or because he graduated from Harvard Law School and specializes in real estate and environmental law at Hill and Barlow in Boston. It's a useful background, anyway.

Greg Peterson and his wife, Karen Huntress, moved here from Arlington only five years ago, with their daughters, Amanda and Kate. In that short time, Greg has done a heroic job of making the town an even better place to live. He's a director in the Carlisle Conservation Foundation and a trustee in the Carlisle Land Trust, both private groups open to anyone devoted to preserving Carlisle's open space. Who better to recognize for the work he did not only on the O'Rourke property, but in the complicated purchase of the Carr land on Baldwin Road and in the negotiations and planning to forestall development on the Wang-Coombs land?

1999 The Carlisle Mosquito