FMR bids farewell to longtime Conservation Director Tom Lewanski
Bill Clinton was President, Arne Carlson was Minnesota’s governor, Michael Jordan led the Chicago Bulls to a sixth NBA championship and Google was founded in a California garage, but the big news in 1998 was that Tom Lewanski was hired as FMR's first conservation director.
Since, FMR has grown from a staff of four to 19, and under Tom's leadership the conservation program has helped protect 2,044 acres of land and conducted ecological restoration of 2,800 acres at 53 sites.
So it is with a mixture of pride and sadness that we announce that Tom will be leaving FMR this month after more than 19 years of service. “Tom’s contributions to FMR, but more importantly to the Mississippi River in the Twin Cities, have been enormous,” said FMR Executive Director Whitney Clark. “His understanding and love of the natural world combined with his passion for protecting and restoring it have resulted in dozens of successful protection and restoration projects up and down the river.”
Tom led FMR’s efforts to establish three Scientific and Natural Areas — Pine Bend Bluffs, Hastings Sand Coulee and Chimney Rock — as well as the designation of the Hampton Woods Wildlife Management Area and a 300-acre addition to Gores Pool Wildlife Management Area. He was also instrumental in securing permanent protection for the Katherine Ordway Natural History Study Area In Inver Grove Heights, the Rosemount Wildlife Preserve, the William H. Houlton Conservation Area in Elk River and the Fish Creek Natural Area in Maplewood.
“I will always cherish the memories of my time at FMR," said Tom. "We certainly accomplished many important things for the river during these 19 years, but it is the people that I was able to meet and build relationships with that I will hold most dear. From my colleagues at FMR to the many landowners that I was able to spend time with, I have an honest hope for the future. There are many, many people who care about making the world better and are working hard to make it so. Thank you for all you do.”
Luckily, Tom will not be going far. He will soon be the natural resources manager for Dakota County Parks, one of FMR’s longtime partners.
We wish him great success and extend our deepest gratitude for his outstanding service!
Of course, FMR is looking for a successor to lead the continued growth of the conservation program.