Hiking to Save the Greenbelt

Sketch of Gretta Moulton leading a hikeGretta Moulton leads a winter hike at Camp High Rock in the early 1960s. The man at left is Judge Holt Meyer, a key figure in the effort to save the wooded hilltop from commercial development. (Sketch by Marbury Brown)

By Elizabeth Seder 

The chaotic Rolodex in my mind rifled through the faces of friends from days long past, friends who hiked to save this glorious Greenbelt in the 1960’s. An image was fixed: that of Jean Roland serving pea soup at the end of a hike – Jean with Barbara Lamberton, and their husbands, Budd and Jim, who were nearby testing the sherry.

Overseeing all events and strategies were Gretta Moulton and John G. Mitchell, our leaders and inspiration.

Faces of other “tree huggers” and “little green men,” resolved to preserve open space on Staten Island, came rapidly into view: Doris Barlow and neighbor Sarah Holzka, gently encouraging, and husbands Ted and Joe adding wry observations; Gloria and Terry Benbow; Roberta Braisted; Mary Lou and Brad Greene; Bob Hagenhofer; Cynthia Jacobsen; Alison Mitchell and daughters shining apples; Holt Meyer; Alan Oser; Faye and Royal Radin, Faye on sunrise hikes as well; Wes Truesdale and many others.

They were a formidable bunch, passionate about the landscape and successful in forming collaborations with national environmental organizations, local political leaders, and noble parks commissioners.

Through this cooperation among responsible citizens and public servants, the Greenbelt exists and is as fine a legacy as one could wish.

Elizabeth Seder was the first president of the Greenbelt Conservancy.