TRIBUTE TO PUTNAM “PUT” BLODGETT; Congressional Record Vol. 166, No. 139 (Senate – August 05, 2020)
Mr. LEAHY. Mr. President, Putnam ”Put” Blodgett’s lifetime of service to the Vermont forest industry deserves special recognition. Put personified the essence, values, and traditions of what makes Vermont special.
Put’s family moved to a Bradford, VT, dairy farm during the height of the Great Depression. He attended Dartmouth College and returned home in 1953 to work on the family farm, which he eventually took over and continued to steward with his wife and children. Put left the dairy business for other endeavors but maintained his connection to the family land, working tirelessly to restore and manage its 700- acre wood lot. Always focused on long-term sustainable management, Put placed the acreage in conservation with the Upper Valley Land Trust, preserving the forest for all generations. Put’s son now manages the forest, continuing that legacy.
Put and his wife, Marilyn, ran the Challenge Wilderness Camp, teaching children about nature and guiding them on wilderness pursuits. Children would travel from cities to live in an Adirondack shelter, cook over an open fire, learn to canoe, and explore the forest. Put’s goal was to assist young people on their journey to adulthood, cultivating their connection with the natural world. Watching our own children and grandchildren play in woods and fields of our farm in Middlesex, VT, Marcelle and I know how crucial it is for children to have the experience in nature that Put and Marilyn provided to so many.
A true leader in Vermont’s conservation and forestry community, Put was the longstanding president of Vermont Woodlands Association and oversaw the Tree Farm Program. He was recognized twice as Vermont’s Outstanding Tree Farmer of the Year. Our farm in Middlesex has been enrolled in the Tree Farm Program for about 30 years, and I am deeply appreciative of the value the program has brought to my land and to Vermont.
Forest management discussions can be a tense tug-of-war between environmentalism and timber management, but Put didn’t see it that way. He understood conservation as a shared priority-a public and private good alike-and he worked to unite divergent stakeholders around this common interest. I looked to Put for advice when writing Vermont wilderness legislation and Put was a founding member of the Vermont Natural Resources Council’s Forest Roundtable, an open forum for Vermonters to exchange information and recommend conservation policy. On many occasions, Put helped opposing sides find that elusive common ground on forest management policy.
Putnam Blodgett, as any true forester, worked with a mission to be accomplished on a time frame much longer than his own life span or a single generation. Put passed away earlier this year, and yet I take comfort knowing that the Green Mountains of Vermont are better for his work here. To the great benefit of my grandchildren and many generations to come, Put’s legacy lives in the Northern Forest.