A passion for land lives on:

Profile of Alan and Alice Plutchok

Alan and Alice Plutchok are Solano Land Trust Legacy League donors, which means that they have included Solano Land Trust in their will. Associate director Deanna Mott sat down with Alan and Alice to learn more about them and their passion for open space in Solano County.

DM: Let’s start at the beginning. Where did you meet?

Alan: On a college-organized ski trip. I was going to Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey, and Alice was going to Douglass College, the women’s college across town. When I picked Alice up at her house, her mother came out with a clipboard, stood in front of the car and wrote my license plate number down. (He laughs at the memory.)

DM: How long have you been married?

Alice: We married 51 years ago, after Alan completed his second year of medical school.

DM: What brought you to California?

Alan: It wasn’t planned. I was working long hours for a residency in Boston, and was miserable. I saw an ad for a residency in California, and decided that we might as well live somewhere nice if I was going to be working such grueling hours. We ended up in San Francisco right before I joined the US Air Force for a two-year disposition required of all physicians at the time. After that we moved to Vallejo where we lived for 40 years before moving to Benicia. I have been retired for ten years.

DM: Where did you both acquire your land ethics?

Alice: Barbara Kondylis [former Vallejo City Council member and Solano County Supervisor] had a lot to do with bringing these issues to my attention and encouraging us to get involved. She appointed Alan to the planning commission and I joined the Tri-City & County Open Space Area Citizens Advisory Group.

DM: How did you get involved with Solano Land Trust?

Alan: We hiked at Lynch Canyon, the closest open space to Vallejo, and paid close attention to decisions that were being made regarding Solano Land Trust properties.

DM: Some people think that only those with means can consider leaving a bequest to a charity. How can we help people understand that the amount of money one gives isn't nearly as important as the decision to leave a legacy?

Alice: We can all influence the way we want our community to be. Every little bit of contribution helps, whether it’s helping to purchase a piece of land or maintaining a park’s parking lot. The size of the bequest isn’t what’s important. When someone leaves a bequest, it enables an organization to do the work that isn’t visible or exciting, like paying insurance or purchasing a new piece of equipment. It can also take pressure off the organization so that they can focus on running programs, such as connecting people to the land or finding ways to ensure that agriculture remains a viable option for farmers and ranchers who want to stay on their land.

The land trust is a patchwork of properties, and contributions are the same way; they come in all different sizes and shapes such as cash, stock, property, vehicles, tools, and time.

DM: What do you feel is the most important thing Solano Land Trust can convey to our community?

Alan: Solano Land Trust can have a big role in introducing the next generation to appropriate land use. When driving from San Francisco to Solano County on Interstate 80 at night, you don't experience complete darkness until you get to Lynch Canyon. That didn’t just happen on its own. The community fought for it. Residents need to know that an organization, and a lot of community support, helps to ensure that some land remains intact for recreational use and wildlife habitat.

It's about education, and making people aware of land usage and how we fit into the county-wide landscape.

DM: What is your hope for the future of Solano County, and how can Solano Land Trust play an important role in that?

Alan: My hope is that the county continues to consider smart growth, and that Solano Land Trust partners with the county in a significant and supportive relationship so we have a parks district in the future.

Photos Courtesy of Alan and Alice Plutchok.