Meet Jordan McCarron, Weston’s New Conservation Administrator
Almost exactly one month ago today, Jordan McCarron came to Weston as our new Conservation Administrator, stepping into the opening left when Michele Grzenda moved to Lincoln. The Owl has almost forgiven Lincoln for stealing Michele, mostly because they have a large Minute Man group and are not afraid to use it. And, having met and talked with Jordan a few times, it is clear that Weston is lucky to have him join–or arguably re-join, us.
The Owl caught up with Jordan over email:
What’s your background and where did you come from before starting in the Conservation Administrator role?
I have a fairly eclectic background, which I suppose is not uncommon for my generation. I graduated from Syracuse University in 2003 with a degree in print journalism, joined the Peace Corps as a Teacher of English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) volunteer and was stationed in Western Ukraine from 2003-2005. Upon return, I thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail in 2006, spent a few summers as a Park Ranger for the Mass DCR on Spectacle Island in Boston Harbor, spent a few summers working on an organic farm in Lincoln, MA and then, in 2010, started work as the Land Manager and Forestry Programs Supervisor at Land’s Sake here in Weston.
Working at Land’s Sake gave me a great foundation in land management and stewardship and really propelled me into my current career track. I left Land’s Sake in 2012 to pursue a graduate degree in Environmental Studies from Antioch Graduate School in Keene, NH, though I ran the Land’s Sake winter timber stand improvement program through the winter/spring of 2013-2014. My first municipal conservation job was in Lexington, where I served as the Conservation Stewardship Program Coordinator from 2014-2020. I then spent one year as the Conservation Director in Westborough before being scooped up by Weston this spring.
You’ve been here since May 3rd and I know it’s hard to know all the issues and opportunities yet but what do you see as priorities right now?
Indeed, I am very new; however, there are a few areas/issues that I foresee rising to the top of the priority list for the Conservation Commission over the next few years:
(1) Enacting a local Wetlands Bylaw that provides for greater protections for our most sensitive resource areas and promotes climate-resilient building strategies. This is identified as a priority in the Weston Ahead Climate Action and Resilience Plan and Weston is in the minority of communities statewide that doesn’t have a local Bylaw.
(2) Planning for increased visitation and pressure on our conservation land. I believe the increase in visitation to our local conservation areas we’ve seen during the pandemic isn’t going to subside anytime soon, and we need to make sure we are striking the right balance between resource protection and providing visitor access. And when it comes to access, we are going to have to start planning for more fully-accessible trails. Increasingly, the funding available for trail construction and improvements is either prioritizing or outright requiring that trail projects meet ADA standards. Equitable access to our open spaces, for both Weston residents and out-of-town visitors, is important.
(3) Developing an invasive plant management strategy that is driven by science and academic research, our own practical experience, and includes education and outreach for Weston’s residents.
Which other groups do you work most with in town?
I collaborate most closely with the Planning Board, Zoning Board of Appeals, and the DPW’s engineering staff on permitting matters generally and on stormwater compliance most frequently. On land management and stewardship matters, I and my staff work closely with the Weston Forest and Trail Association. I foresee working closely with the Sustainability Committee on the implementation of Weston’s “Weston Ahead” Climate Action and Resilience Plan, among other initiatives. Other environmental groups in Weston, like the Weston Garden Club and Weston Plant Pollinator Alliance, I haven’t been formally introduced to yet, but our missions closely align and it is in Weston’s best interest that we all work collaboratively on protecting and promoting Weston’s natural landscapes and biodiversity.
How do you think each Weston resident can make things better in terms of environment and conservation?
From the perspective of wetlands protection and environmental stewardship, which are the areas I focus on the most in my role here in Weston, we work hard to promote the use of native, drought-tolerant species in our landscaping. This goes hand in hand with reducing our use of pesticides, fertilizers, and irrigation on our lawns and in fact, the more we favor native species in our plantings, the less we need to rely on those inputs. That translates into pollinator-friendly, attractive landscaping and gardens that protect Weston’s biodiversity and cost less to maintain over time, so please, plant as many native species as you can and consider letting your lawn survive on its own!
What do you like to do in your free time?
Garden, run, bike, play music (guitar and bass), and dote on my very sweet, and very bossy, two-year-old daughter.
What’s your favorite tree/plant or wild animal?
In the garden, it’s got to be kale. It gives and gives, is easy and quick to cook, and easy to grow. In the woods, the sugar maple- acer saccharum–beautiful bark, iconic leaves, and obviously, the sugar. Wild animal? The beaver. I know they can be destructive and the bane of many a public works department, but their ability to create their own habitat and completely change a landscape is incredible.
Do you have a favorite book?
Honestly, it’s usually the book I’ve most recently read. Right now, I’m reading a Jim Henson biography that is fantastic–he was a creative genius and it’s been a great inspiration to watch all the old Muppet movies with my daughter. Generally, though- John Irving is my favorite author and I could always go back and read The World According to Garp, A Prayer for Owen Meany, The Hotel New Hampshire. I love those books.
Sir David Attenborough or E.O. Wilson?
This is a cop-out, but I’ve got to go with Aldo Leopold. Sure, I have great respect for both Sir David Attenborough and E.O. Wilson, but as a conservationist that puts a high value on the preservation of working landscapes, Aldo Leopold is my guy. His Land Ethic- the notion that our stewardship of the land for both biodiversity and productivity should be viewed as an obligation–defines my ideology and how I approach my own work. Weston has done an exemplary job of preserving its agricultural heritage and promoting the management of its forests for both habitat and high-quality timber–in my mind, this is Leopold’s Land Ethic in practice.
Tell us about your family
My wife Betsy and I met while working as Park Rangers on Spectacle Island in Boston Harbor–she works as a training specialist and educator for the National Park Service in Boston. We live in Maynard and have a 2-year-old daughter named Willow; #2 is due in late July!
Anything else you want to communicate to Weston?
We are always looking for more volunteer stewards to help out with trail maintenance, invasive plant management, and other aspects of conservation land management. Please contact me if you’d like to get involved (or if you’re looking for community service opportunities for your high school or college student this summer!): firstname.lastname@example.org