BURRILLVILLE – From working to spread the word from Woonsocket to Westerly, and Burrillville to Block Island, about the hazards of a power plant proposed for the woods in northwestern Rhode Island; to fighting, and winning against legislation including the, “dry lands bill,” and the, “steep slopes bill;” Paul Roselli has long been a voice for more preservation of limited land resources in the state.
That work was recognized this month at the 19th annual Rhode Island Land and Water Conservation Summit, where Roselli won the Peter Merritt Conservation Award. The award, presented at the University of Rhode Island on Friday, July 15, honored Roselli’s work with the Burrillville Land Trust,
on Invenergy; on his tenure as longest board member on the Rhode Island Land Trust Council board, on his annual presentation on accomplishments of the state’s land trust community; and for his coalition building with local, municipal, state and regional partners.
“The Burrillville Land Trust went from owning one 30-acre parcel to owning 230 acres, due in large part to Paul’s work in building coalitions and asking those in the land trust to look for opportunities,” said Doris Alberg, secretary for the BLT. “He is a leader and an educator who is in the ‘trenches’ every day for land preservation in Burrillville.”
The award is given for outstanding achievement in conservation in the land trust community by an individual. This year marks the 17th time that the award was given.
“Its a great honor, and one that I readily share with everyone who fights for land protection. It takes a village to save our sense of place,” said Roselli.
Kate Sayles, executive director of the RI Land Trust Council and co-producer of the annual summit said, “Everyone in the state knows Paul and knows his passion for land conservation. This is so well deserving for his work over these many, many years.”
The annual summit draws nearly 250 participants from all over Rhode Island and nearby Massachusetts and Connecticut. Workshops, guest speakers, a legislative update, lunch and more round out the day-long conference at URI.
The Peter Merritt Award is given in honor of the late Peter Merritt, a founding member, dedicated board member, and second president of Aquidneck Land Trust. Applicants are nominated by their boards, or an individual, and then one winner is selected each year by the Rhode Island Land Trust Council board of directors.
The award is given during the lunchtime break at the summit. Long tenure with land protection, major accomplishments, an individual who is a volunteer, values their community and those that live within it, has the respect of their peers and others for their efforts are among the criteria that is used.
“This is such a great honor. I’m very proud of the work we have done and I’m very, very happy,” Roselli said.
The Burrillville Land Trust is an all volunteer non-profit, 501(c)3, private land trust not connected with the town government. The mission of the trust is to preserve and protect the rural character of the town of Burrillville through advocacy, education and acquisition. The land trust has been incorporated since 2000. The land trust holds 230 acres in fee simple and has two conservation easements that total 36 acres.
The land that is owned by the trust is not owned by town government but is held by the trust and cared for by volunteer residents.