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  • Platteville Community Arboretum

The Wright Moves

When Angie and I moved to Platteville in 2001, it didn’t take long for David Canny (rest his soul) to reach out and pull me into his vortex. By 2002, I had joined the Friends of the Rountree Branch, or FORB (an ad-hoc committee of the City’s Parks and Rec Department founded by David and Marty Dawson). Before I knew it, I was helping David morph FORB into some new non-profit organization called the Platteville Community Arboretum.

David Canny was a visionary and getting whisked away in one of his idea-generating frenzies was an inspiring and dizzying experience. I tend to think that one of the reasons David and I got along so well was that I would allow him to brainstorm a hurricane and then play ‘devil’s advocate’ to help him filter the potential outcomes. (Some would argue I never stopped being that devil’s advocate…). But we also shared a passion for trout, stream health, and improving one’s community. Some of our most enjoyable conversations were visualizing ways to integrate all three of those things, with respect to the Rountree Branch. I cannot be more proud of how much the PCA has turned those visions into reality.

I had the honor of serving four years as PCA president, and then over 10 years as vice-president. The list of individuals I have worked with, from board members to volunteers, reads like a “who’s who” of exceptional Plattevillians. I won’t call-out anyone individually because every one of them has influenced me and the PCA. Needless to say, it has been a true, heartfelt joy and an absolute privilege. I am so grateful. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Regrets? I’ve had a few. I made mistakes, I let some people down, I got caught up in manipulation games, but really the positives far outweigh such blunders. I have been part of the Rountree Branch Trail growing from a gravel pathway behind a few buildings into a three-mile, paved and lighted recreational trail that is second-to-none. I helped the ad-hoc committee FORB evolve into an incredibly successful, respected, and productive non-profit community organization. I have facilitated the Rountree Branch stream corridor transforming from a continuous infestation of non-native plants to a more ecologically sound mosaic of habitats and native species. The organizational structure of PCA is stronger now than ever before. But perhaps what impresses me the most about PCA is that it continues to provide a common ground bringing community members together from various backgrounds and perspectives without getting caught-up in the pettiness of focusing on differences.

Jeepers, I hope this isn’t coming across as some I’m-leaving-PCA-forever-eulogy. I’m not going anywhere, and I hope to stay involved with PCA. I will continue to serve on the Ecology Committee, I will continue to do trail work with the Wednesday evening group, and I will always be willing to support the Board when called upon. I’d also like to explore new ways to serve our community. It’s just that after being involved at the board-level for the past 20 years, it’s time to step back and watch others take PCA in new directions and down new paths.

I’ll see you on the trail.

Editor’s Tribute to Kris Wright: Kris and I were charter board members of the Platteville Community Arboretum when it was founded in 2004. It was Kris and David Canny who ignited my interest in giving back to our community via environmental efforts. Kris provided the technical PowerPoint support and creative writing for the mission statement and by-laws that David wanted. He connected us to the wonderful reclamation and environmentally talented resources within the university. Kris was the driver behind PCA’s dog park project and instilled in us that the key focus of the arboretum and trail had to be ecology. He will forever be linked to the Platteville Community Arboretum. We cannot thank you enough for your leadership. Your continued input to our PCA board will always be appreciated. — Gene Weber

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