Efforts in conservation honored in Snowmass | AspenTimes.com

Efforts in conservation honored in Snowmass

The nation’s most prestigious land conservation award was presented to an Illinois woman in Snowmass Village Saturday.

The locally inspired American Land Conservation Award, which is accompanied by a $50,000 grant, was presented to Annie Hoagland of Godfrey, Ill., for her work in preserving land and trails along the scenic Mississippi River bluffs in Illinois. The award was presented by part-time Woody Creek resident Jessica Catto, president of the Catto Charitable Foundation, which funds the grant.

Hoagland was honored for 30 years of dedicated work in conservation. She led efforts to protect a 22-mile, riverside corridor, known for its scenery and dazzling fall colors. The corridor is valued for community recreation and as habitat for bald eagles.

Catto both endowed the award and helped to create it. Deeply involved in the land conservation movement, Catto has been a trustee of the Conservation Fund, which co-sponsors the award, for five years. She also is vice chairperson of the Environmental Defense Fund. Her long-standing love of the land is at the roots of her commitment to land preservation, she said.

“I’ve been in love with the land since I was about nine years old,” Catto said. Growing up in Texas, she was sent off to summer camp in New Mexico. Getting off the train at Raton, she saw for the first time the silhouette of the Rockies etched against the dawn sky.

“That blew me away,” she said, “and I’ve never been the same since.”

The idea for the American Land Conservation Award came during a conversation with Pat Noonan, national chairperson of the Conservation Fund, Catto said. The two were brainstorming on ways to get people involved in saving undeveloped land for future generations.

“We realized there were a lot of heroes that nobody ever knows about,” she added. Those heroes should be recognized, to encourage more heroism, Catto said.

The American Land Conservation Award was presented at Rally ’99, the annual conference of a national organization called the Land Trust Alliance.

The award is presented annually, at the Land Trust Alliance Rally. It goes to a person who demonstrates individual leadership in conservation, effects long-term change in land and water conservation, and works to preserve a community’s sense of place and to strengthen public support for conservation initiatives.

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