TIVERTON — Conservation activist Garry Plunkett was honored Saturday, March 8, by the Rhode Island Land Trust Council as the 2014 recipient of the Peter Merritt Award for Land Conservation.
The award was conferred at the 11th Annual Land & Water Conservation Summit held at the University of Rhode Island. It is given annually to a local volunteer who makes an outstanding contribution to land conservation in his or her community.
Connie Lima, president of the Tiverton Land Trust (TLT) presented the award.
“Garry is our town’s ‘Environmental Renaissance Man’,” she said. “He is a champion of all conservation and land preservation causes. Throughout his volunteer life, he has served on numerous boards and commissions.”
“Garry is the go-to person whenever there are questions about the woods, native flora and fauna, our town’s colonial history or the history of open space in Tiverton,” Ms. Lima said.
“The work he does speaks for the man,” she said. “All who know Garry, are inspired by his devotion to good conservation practices within our town and beyond, who feel comfortable and confident in seeking his advice. We all know what a gift we have in him. We are lucky to have such a generous friend and mentor.”
“When he served on the Planning Board,” Ms. Lima said, “he was instrumental in developing Tiverton’s Comprehensive Land Use Plan. He was chair, then co-chair of the Tiverton Open Space Commission (TOSC), and now holds the Stewardship Coordinator position overseeing 850 acres. He spent many years as a member of the TLT’s Land Protection Committee and continues to serve on the Land Trust’s Advisory Board.”
“Garry has authored the majority of stewardship management plans for the town’s open space and land trust properties. He helps guide and direct projects and grant writing activities which currently include a three-year, 15-acre meadow restoration project funded by Natural Resources Conservation Services in Weetamoo Woods.”
Mr. Plunkett was also lauded for his work on invasive species projects and site design work on the Highland Woods project adjacent to Fort Barton Woods.
He has presented numerous talks on natural history and conservation topics to schools, community groups, the Rhode Island Wild Plant Society and the New England Wild Flower Society.
Extending his influence outside of town lines, he currently serves as Tiverton’s liaison to the East Bay Energy Consortium, a wind energy project for East Bay communities.
The award honors Peter Merritt, a founding and dedicated board member of the Aquidneck Land Trust.
Mr. Merritt advocated tirelessly, the Land Trust Council said, “for open space preservation, and was an eloquent spokesperson for the need for sustainable conservation. His enthusiasm and persuasive arguments were a catalyst for action that changed our landscape forever.”