The Trustees of Reservations, the nation’s oldest regional land trust and Massachusetts’ largest conservation organization, honored Al French with a Life Trustee award at the organization’s annual meeting on Sept. 27 at the New England Aquarium.
The honor was bestowed on French “for his many years of leadership of the Bay Circuit Alliance, a 200-mile recreational trail and greenway encircling 57 towns and cities in the Boston metropolitan area between Route 128 and Interstate 495. The trail and greenway connects thousands of acres of scenic, historic and conservation lands running, through 37 communities from Plum Island to Duxbury.”
Many of those properties are owned and managed by The Trustees.
French joined The Trustees in 1991 as an active member, organizational partner and advocate. A graduate of Yale University and Harvard Business School, he spent many years working in the printing business before leaving to open his own outdoor equipment store, Moor and Mountain, with Burt Batcheller, in 1966. The store, which closed its longtime Dundee Park storefront in town in 2012, was a hub for Merrimack Valley’s outdoor sporting community.
In 1991, French became chairman of the fledgling Bay Circuit Alliance, a volunteer organization made up of towns and conservation groups formed to oversee the expansion and management of the Bay Circuit Trail and Greenway. At the end of 2012, he will retire as The Bay Circuit chairman, as the Trustees and the Appalachian Mountain Club begin what they are calling “an historic collaboration to carry on his legacy. Both organizations will work together to support the Alliance completing, protecting and promoting the Bay Circuit Trail and Greenway.”
French has hiked the entire Bay Circuit Trail four times, including a 16-day through-hike with his late wife Mary in 1998 and is considered itsmost passionate advocate. In addition to his work with the Bay Circuit Alliance, French has also been highly involved with the Andover Trails Committee and the Trustees’ Ward Reservation property committee.