Land trust honors Weybridge attorney
MONTPELIER — Each year, the Vermont Land Trust recognizes individuals who have made significant contributions to conservation in Vermont. This year’s awards were presented to Orly Munzing of East Dummerston and Bill Roper of Weybridge.
The awards were presented at the land trust’s annual celebration, which was held Sept. 30 at the Retreat Farm in Brattleboro. Bill Roper joins past John Bailey Dunne Conservation Award recipients Deb Brighton and John Elder of Addison County. Orly Munzing joins the late Senator Robert Gannett and the Windmill Hill Pinnacle Association, former Windham County Richard W. Carbin Award winners.
As an environmental and land use attorney and community and conservation leader, Bill Roper helped save a prominent bluff overlooking Lake Champlain in Burlington, protect bear habitat in Shrewsbury, and prevent the destruction of a historic hiking trail in Stowe.
He has advised many communities on conservation zoning and planning, and served on the boards of the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board, the Vermont Natural Resources Council, and the Middlebury Area Land Trust.
Bill received the John Bailey Dunne Conservation Award, which recognizes a member of the conservation community who has made a profound impact on the state.
“Bill has devoted his career to environmental protection,” said Vermont Land Trust’s Allen Karnatz, “and land conservation is at the center of his exceptional accomplishments.”
“My deep love for nature is rooted in a Wisconsin boyhood paddling rivers, sailing Lake Michigan and working on farms during the summer,” Roper said. “I have been lucky to forge a career in conservation and proactive planning, and been inspired in this work by people all around the state, including the remarkable staff at the Vermont Land Trust, and their tireless, passionate commitment to preserve our important landscapes.”
Fifteen years ago, Orly Munzing created the “Strolling of the Heifers” in Brattleboro to celebrate agriculture and family farms in the region. The two-day event includes a parade of about 100 heifers down Main St., and has become one of Vermont’s top 10 visitor attractions, with over 40,000 visitors. The nonprofit offers year-round programming to support the development of a stronger food system.
Orly was the recipient of the Richard W. Carbin Community Conservation Award. Named after the land trust’s founder, this award recognizes those who demonstrate a commitment to conservation in their communities. “Orly defines what it means to be a community builder,” said Joan Weir of the Vermont Land Trust.
“I am humbled to be awarded the Rick W. Carbin Community Conservation Award,” Munzing said, “for the work that Strolling of the Heifers does in helping conserve farmland through its many programs and events. We work year-round in connecting people with healthy local food, encourage and facilitate innovation and entrepreneurship in the farm and food sectors, and support the development of stronger local food systems and healthy resilient communities that support farms.”
“We began recognizing exceptional conservation-supporters at our annual celebration in 1988,” said Elise Annes of the Vermont Land Trust. “We are proud to celebrate Bill Roper and Orly Munzing and to share our appreciation for their dedication and passion for Vermont’s landscape and people.”