Al Sanborn Receives WCLT President’s Award
Westborough⎯Local outdoorsman Al Sanborn was named recipient of the President’s Award from the Westborough Community Land Trust at the January 2006 WCLT Board of Directors meeting. The President’s Award recognizes a WCLT member who has given exemplary service to the local land trust. Sanborn, who was an original incorporator of the Westborough Community Land Trust in 1997, has continued to be an invaluable and tireless volunteer, particularly in trail building and stewardship.
Sanborn’s love of nature is rooted in his early years in New Hampshire as the youngest of six children growing up on a small farm. It continued while he was student at University of New Hampshire, where he received a degree in social service in 1953, after serving in the Air Force (1947 to 1950).
During three years on the UNH staff after graduation, and for many decades following, Sanborn spent much time in the White Mountains. From 1956 to 1988, he worked for State Mutual, first in group insurance sales in the Buffalo, New York, area and then from 1979 in sales support and marketing in Worcester.
Since his first ascent more than 50 years ago, Sanborn has climbed Mount Washington 25 times. From 1983 to 1995, he and his recruited crews maintained the Cascade Brook Trail, a three-mile section of the Appalachian Trail in Franconia Notch. In 1990, Sanborn hiked the entire 2,000 miles of the Appalachian Trail, with his wife Elaine providing support in their camper van.
A long-time resident of Westborough, and very recently Grafton, Sanborn and his wife have enjoyed camping and whitewater canoeing in the United States and remote parts of the world. Many of these trips are documented through programs Sanborn produced for local access cable TV, such as “Footloose and Fancy Free on the Appalachian Trail,” “The Majesty of Alaska,” “Bare Boat Sailing in the Grenadines,” “Exploring Costa Rica by Canoe and Raft,” and “Whitewater Canoe Camping” about the San Juan River, Utah, and on the Green River through Canyonlands National Park.
Sanborn’s second career “in the woods,” extended from 1988 to 2003, when he worked for Sudbury Valley Trustees, maintaining the local Walkup-Robinson Reservation as well as Sawink Farm and Cedar Hill Reservation in Northborough. During this time Sanborn also became active in community service. He served on Westborough’s Open Space Preservation Committee from 1988 to 1994. He also became a producer for WCAT local cable TV and was instrumental in gaining constant television coverage of Selectmen’s meetings, Planning Board meetings, and most recently Town Meetings. For his public service, Al Sanborn was named Citizen of the Year in 1999 by the Westborough Grange.
With the creation of the Westborough Community Land Trust in 1997, Sanborn put his expertise into action to benefit the organization. For nearly a decade he has played a key role on the WCLT Stewardship Committee in helping to create and maintain the Westborough’s Charm Bracelet trails. In all seasons, Sanborn can be found in the woods clearing brush, battling poison ivy, moving rocks, sawing windblown trees⎯always with a grin and a warm greeting for all he encounters. Sanborn also has shared his enthusiasm for nature and great knowledge of trail building with a number of Eagle Scouts completing their Eagle Projects. His contributions to their efforts range from working power equipment to giving expert guidance on trail construction.
Don Burn, chair of the WCLT Stewardship Committee, says, "Over the last seven years, Al has been involved with WCLT in building all of the 20 miles or so of trails in town. He is the one we rely on to be our 'rapid response' guy⎯when we need someone out on the trails in a hurry, Al is the first to answer the call. If a tree has fallen down and blocks a trail, Al responds and removes it. When mud, brambles, or rocks obstruct a path, it's Al who jumps in to make it passable. The WCLT Stewardship Committee can always depend on Al to step up and do the routine but critical maintenance to ensure that trails are open for people to enjoy. Al has a great positive, can-do attitude and is a totally reliable, invaluable volunteer for the Westborough Community Land Trust."
Upon presenting Sanborn with the President’s Award, WCLT President Kris Allen recognized him as a constant source of guidance and inspiration. “Al Sanborn was instrumental in the founding of the Westborough Community Land Trust and has been an outstanding volunteer ever since, particularly in creating trails and land stewardship. WCLT benefited immensely from his knowledge, expert labor, and constant support. Al's positive spirit, incredible work ethic, and great love of the out-of-doors have inspired us all. He has set the standard as the ultimate WCLT volunteer and supporter."