In Memoriam: Don Ouellette

Don Ouellette, a longtime advocate for the environment in Attleboro, passed away on January 26 after a long illness. Don served on the 2002 Open Space and Recreation Plan Committee, Ducks Unlimited, the board of the Attleboro Land Trust, and the Conservation Commission.

While Don and his wife Laura had been members and supporters of the land trust going back to at least 1997, Don was first elected to the Board of Directors in 2010. He became Chair of Land Acquisition later that year, serving in that position until 2017. He also served as Vice President from 2011 to 2016. Under Don’s leadership as acquisition chair, the land trust had a long string of successes in protecting additional land in the city. Nine properties totalling 197 acres were acquired and another 80 acres were put under a conservation restriction.

Don was perhaps proudest of the acquisition of the 63-acre Deborah and Roger Richardson Nature Preserve. This was by far the most complicated project in ALT history, requiring teams from the City, Mass Audubon, the ALT, and the Richardson family all working together to cross the finish line.

Charlie Wyman, Ted Leach, Don Ouellette, and Lauren Gordon on a 2014 site visit to what was to become the Deborah and Roger Richardson Nature Preserve.    Image credit: C. Adler

Don also left his mark on the partnership that has formed to promote Attleboro as an attractive place to live, work, play, and go hiking. Past ALT president Ted Leach, who launched the partnership, credits Don with coming up its slogan: “Hike Attleboro.” As Ted recalls, “Don suggested it during a meeting at City Hall with Mayor Kevin Dumas. It was an immediate hit with all present.”

We will remember Don, not only for his dedicated service to the land trust, but also for the personal warmth and enthusiasm he brought to his every endeavor.

Annual meeting focuses on “Hike Attleboro”

Trail advocate Don Burn brought his vision to a full house at the Attleboro Land Trust’s annual meeting on October 22.  Burn was the driving force behind a network of trails in Westborough, Massachusetts, known as the “Charm Bracelet.”  His words helped to energize a similar effort underway locally dubbed “Hike Attleboro.”  The Attleboro Land Trust, Mass Audubon, and the City of Attleboro each own and manage conservation lands with walking trails in the city.  Hike Attleboro will use a common logo and roadside signs to direct residents to these trails.

The Westborough Charm Bracelet was driven by Burn’s vision to “Connect with trails every public open space parcel and recreation area in Westborough to every neighborhood and to the adjoining towns.”  This neatly coincides with a similar vision in Attleboro’s 2011 Comprehensive Plan of walkable neighborhoods with public parks within a 10-minute walk.

 

Don Burn points out one of the benefits of walking in the woods.    Image credit: Ken Salome

Burn touted the many benefits of walking trails, including research that indicates a strong connection between time spent in nature and reduced levels of stress and anxiety.  He emphasized the importance of partnerships in attempting a project of the scale of the Charm Bracelet, which included participation by civic organizations, youth groups, businesses, landowners, developers, and many municipal boards and departments.

Hike Attleboro is now in the design stage.  Volunteers with the following skills are needed:  WordPress site development, computer graphics, GIS mapping, real estate, and civil engineering.  Later stages will involve more on-site work involving evaluation of natural features and trail design.  Contact us if you would like to get involved.

Hike Attleboro Kickoff Event on October 22nd

We invite you to join us on Tuesday, October 22nd, at Murray Unitarian Universalist Church, 505 N Main Street, for the kick-off of a new initiative of the Attleboro Land Trust, the City of Attleboro and Mass Audubon.

Hike Attleboro is a program to link all the open spaces in Attleboro through a network of walking trails connecting city parks with rolling meadows and peaceful woodland paths.

Don Burn, founder of the highly successful “Charm Bracelet” trail system in Westborough Massachusetts will deliver the keynote. A featured speaker for MassTrails, Don will share his experience of building a trail network suited for all types of hikers that today extends 28 miles, connecting every neighborhood in Westborough.

He will share his insights on the significant community impact of urban walkable trails and the best ways to preserve them.

The evening will start with a Welcome Social from 7 - 7:30 pm.

The formal presentations will start at 7:30.