If you have an interest in tidal marshes, chances are you have come across Ron Rozsa, either in name or in person. Ron is a plant community ecologist who retired from CT DEP's Coastal Area Management Program where he worked for 31 years supervising the Technical Services Section. Ron helped to create the Connecticut Tidal Wetland Restoration Program which restored over 1800 acres of degraded marshes. As you might expect, Ron knew Bill Niering and worked with many other Connecticut College experts including Scott Warren and Glenn Dreyer on various projects related to tidal marsh monitoring and health. GNCE's Jen Pagach has worked with Ron for many years on climate impacts to coastal areas as well as Sentinel Monitoring for climate change in Long Island Sound. longislandsoundstudy.net/research-monitoring/sentinel-monitoring/
We caught up with Ron while hiking Bailey's Ravine or Ayers Gap http://explorect.org/baileys-ravine/, a special site in Eastern Connecticut that Ron remembered from a college geology field trip. Ron has a gift for connecting the past to the present, as well as looking to the future to inform stewardship.
Ron's dedication to the environment started young and is still continuing today. After a marine class field trip on Long Island, Ron and a few of his Bellport High School classmates conceived the idea for an environmental club they named Students for Environmental Quality (SEQ). SEQ launched in the fall of 1970 (same year as the EPA!) with Ron volunteering to be the first chair. The club's first success was the recycling of oil by a local auto dealership instead of discharging the oil into a freshwater lake. SEQ would support the enactment of legislation to protect seals and assist NY DEC is the designation of the Carmen’s River as a Scenic or Recreational River. SEQ is the oldest continuously operating club in the schools history.
Ron continues with the GNCE connection today. He worked with GNCE students now alumns Mary Buchanan '14 and Jessica Wright '15 on his retirement passion, reconstruction the history of vegetation changes at the Barn Island Wildlife Management Area in Stonington, CT. This has led to the discovery of previously unknown impacts from mosquito ditches affecting eight decades of change. In the same period of time the natural marshes have seen virtually no change in the distribution of the plant communities.
Ron's past and continuing projects and contributions are a testament that environmental leadership can have ripple effects that can last beyond our lifetimes.
The Goodwin-Niering Center for the Environment at Connecticut College
a special community of students, faculty and staff that promotes student led and faculty guided interdisciplinary research on environmental issues