Saturday, May 13 was forecast to be a nor’easter, but although the leaden skies promised rain at any moment, the ribbon cutting and dedication of the Laspia Family Trail at Mashomack Preserve was dry, except perhaps for a moist eye or two.
Mike and Susan Laspia retired from their duties as Mashomack Preserve’s director and operations manager, respectively, in the fall of 2016, capping a remarkable career with The Nature Conservancy (TNC) that spanned four decades.
As they had lived and worked along the shores of Sanctuary Pond, it was a natural to improve a seldom used trail which runs along the south side of the pond and dedicate it to the family that gave so much to the preserve.
Connie Fischer, a former Mashomack trustee, led off the festivities. Ms. Fischer welcomed the crowd, and recounted the many very early mornings she and Ms. Laspia spent banding birds along Sanctuary Pond. With four generations of the family standing together, Mike and Susan Laspia cut the orange ribbon to officially open the 0.2 mi/0.3 km spur trail, which leads off the Green Trail close to the Mashomack Manor House.
The guests had a chance to walk the trail, examining the four interpretive signs which highlight the natural history and explain the past human history of the area. Arriving at the cul de sac with the large rock and plaque, the group gathered to hear Nancy Kelley, Executive Director for TNC on Long Island, relate Susan and Mike’s dedication to their family and Mashomack remarking, “If anyone knows a better conservation story, please tell me.”
Novella Laspia Yeaman, the Laspia’s middle daughter, also spoke, with fun remembrances of ice skating on the pond, watching a chickadee eat a tiny hummingbird egg along the trail, and the days of making their own fort from an abandoned duck blind.
Mike Laspia expressed his gratitude at the gathering of 50-plus friends and family, including many past employees and trustees who made the trip to honor the Laspias. The morning concluded with a toast by Trustee Steve Jacobs who helped spearhead the project, and a light lunch.
The trail is now part of Mashomack’s public trail system, a quiet retreat where visitors can gaze at ducks, turtles and dragonflies, hope for a rare sighting of an otter, or contemplate life on a bench near the dedication rock which declares “The Laspia family trail is dedicated to Susan and Michael Laspia in gratitude for their decades of service to The Nature Conservancy and Mashomack Preserve, 1980-2016.
“Mike and Susan raised their three daughters along the shores of Sanctuary Pond. Their outstanding conservation ethic, legendary hospitality, and commitment to connecting people and nature will stand as an inspiration for generations to come.”
Come visit Mashomack’s newest trail during the upcoming Membership Open House on Sunday, May 28.