Boston, MA – December 1, 2016 – The Trustees of Reservations (The Trustees) recently honored The National Park Service (NPS) with its prestigious Conservationist of the Year Award at its 125th Annual Meeting held in the State Room in Boston. The NPS is celebrating its Centennial Anniversary this year, coincidentally as The Trustees is celebrating its 125th Anniversary as the world’s oldest land preservation nonprofit and Massachusetts’ largest conservation and preservation organization. Michael Creasey, Superintendent of the National Parks of Boston, accepted the award on behalf of the National Park Service.
“We were honored to celebrate the National Park Service for its significant work over the past 100 years caring for and sharing so many iconic and beautiful landscapes that preserve and define the character of the United States,” says Barbara Erickson. “Because our collective missions and history are so deeply rooted and aligned, we felt it was quite fitting to celebrate the nation’s greatest park steward during its milestone Centennial year.”
The National Park Service and The Trustees share history through three visionaries—Trustees founder Charles Eliot, his father Charles W. Eliot, and early member George B. Dorr. Eliot Senior and Dorr both served as active members of The Trustees and were founders of the Hancock County Trustees of Public Reservations, which later became Acadia National Park. The first national park created entirely by private donations of land, Acadia sits on Mount Desert Island in Maine, where Trustees’ founder Charles Eliot spent many summers and founded a conservation club with six of his Harvard College classmates. Prompted by his son’s early death from meningitis, Charles W. Eliot was inspired to create a formal association in Maine, much like his son Charles did in establishing The Trustees in 1891. As Vice President of this new conservation organization, George Dorr, with the senior Eliot’s blessing, spearheaded efforts to have the group’s land designated as a federal site, with an eye to achieving national park status. They succeeded in 1919, when an act of Congress designated the area as the first national park east of the Mississippi River.
More than a quarter century earlier, Charles Eliot, a landscape architect and protégé of Frederick Law Olmsted, founded The Trustees in response to the effects of growing populations and industrialization on Boston residents. At the time, Boston was losing its open space as the nation's fourth largest manufacturing center with plants and factories springing up everywhere and consuming farmland, countryside, riverfronts, and even historic sites. As Boston’s population swelled and living conditions were deplorable, Eliot, had the radical idea to set aside land for country parks that would provide fresh air, scenic beauty, and opportunities for quiet repose – antidotes to the ills of urban life. In a letter dated March 5, 1890 to the editor of Garden and Forest—Eliot outlined a “scheme” to save some of the “finest bits of natural scenery near Boston,” for the “delight [of] many future generations.” His letter became the catalyst for a movement that convinced the Massachusetts State Legislature to establish, just one year later (Chapter 352 of the Acts of 1891), a unique statewide organization “for the purposes of acquiring, holding, maintaining and opening to the public … beautiful and historic places … within the Commonwealth.” Thus The Trustees of (Public) Reservations was created and became the first preservation organization of its kind in the world. Within that same year, Eliot also helped to establish the state’s first regional park district, the Metropolitan Parks Commission (MPC), which later became the Metropolitan District Commission (MDC) and is now the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR).
As part of its 125th Anniversary year, The Trustees has been working to inspire more Massachusetts residents and visitors to get outdoors and engage with nature and culture at its 116 properties statewide, 40 of which are in the Greater Boston area and range from woodlands and mountains to historic homesteads, gardens, farms, campgrounds and beaches. In honor of The National Park Service’s Centennial, The Trustees is hosting an exhibition at its newest property, Fruitlands Museum in Harvard, entitled “Find Your Park: National Parks in New England,” on display through March 19, 2017. Developed in partnership with Freedom's Way National Heritage Area and with additional support from Artscope Magazine, the exhibition showcases the important work that is being done to preserve and promote the national parks through a series of large-format photographs that explore the cultural, historical, and natural wonders of the national parks located throughout New England. For more information on The Trustees 125th anniversary and mission, please visit www.thetrustees.org.
The Trustees preserves and cares for some of Massachusetts’ most treasured natural, scenic, and historic sites for public use and enjoyment. Founded in 1891 and celebrating our 125th Anniversary in 2016, we are the world’s first land preservation nonprofit and the Commonwealth’s largest conservation and preservation organization. We believe in protecting the irreplaceable for everyone, forever. Our passion is to connect more people to outdoor recreation, culture, agriculture, and healthy, active living by using our 116 diverse properties, community spaces, and over 5,000 annual programs as a powerful and compelling platform. Located within minutes of every resident and visited by 1.6 million people in 2015, our properties span more than 26,000 acres across the state – from working farms, landscaped and urban gardens, and community parks, to barrier beaches, forests, campgrounds, inns and historic sites, many of which are National Historic Landmarks. In addition to our properties, we are also an active leader in land conservation. We hold conservation restrictions on more than 20,000 acres and have worked with community partners to help protect another 25,000 acres across the state. In 2014 we became a founding partner of the Boston Public Market, the first all locally-sourced indoor market of its kind in the nation where we operate our Appleton Farms vendor booth and serve as the educational programming partner for the Market’s demonstration KITCHEN. Funded by our nearly 125,000 members and supporters, we invite you to get out, get inspired, and find magic in the moment at a Trustees property near you: www.thetrustees.org.