I have spent three decades of my life working for clean water in multiple arenas including public policy, regulatory affairs, citizen education, and managing direct hands on projects to improve the health of all rivers and their associated lakes, ponds, wetlands and vernal pools. In all of those venues the fight goes on, as it must, since development, climate change, and population pressure continue to threaten the health of these public trust assets that belong to “we the people.”
There comes a time though, when certain responsibilities should pass on to others and this is one of those times. For nearly 19 years, acting as the River Steward for the Connecticut River Watershed Council (CRWC), my job has been to improve the health of the river on behalf of our members and all citizens in the watershed. Our actions have always been on behalf of those who cannot attend the daunting number of public policy forums that end up shaping the long-term decisions about the future of our river. CRWC is your voice for protecting the river.
While I have been honored to serve you and our environment in this capacity, it is time for me to move on to focus on the most challenging of the arenas in which I work, the Vermont Legislature. Although I have been a legislator and river steward at the same time for my entire career with CRWC, the demands of these times have elevated the challenges in the public policy arena and those challenges demand more effort and more concentration than ever before. Changes in the political scene at the federal level, wholesale leadership changes at the state level, harder choices about the use of our rivers and the threatening effects of climate change are making the legislative scene more challenging and are placing more demands on my time and energy.
Then there is age, most particularly my age. It is time for me to start focusing some of my energy on the renowned life bucket list that includes more fishing in the Connecticut River watershed to complete a life goal to fish every stream, river, lake, and pond in the watershed. The goal is close but not in hand yet and it would be a good thing to also sample the best fishing, birding, wild areas, nature studies and goofing off in other places in America and the world.
So, effective March 15, I retired from the Connecticut River Watershed Council and entrusting care of the river to younger advocates with more energy, time, and expected longevity than I. I wish them and CRWC good luck as I watch things unfold from my legislative perspective as chair of the Natural Resources, Fish, and Wildlife Committee. Otherwise, I will see you on the river.
CRWC invites you to join us in celebrating Deen in this great transition. We will host a variety of events this spring and summer to honor Deen, including a River Celebration on Saturday, June 17. To learn more or t see what other events will honor Deen please visit www.ctriver.org or contact us at (413) 772-2020.