Sonoma Land Trust, 966 Sonoma Ave., Santa Rosa 95404; 707-526-6930; sonomalandtrust.org
Residence: Glen Ellen
Professional background: Executive director, Sonoma Land Trust, 2003–present; general counsel, executive vice president, chief operating officer, Trust for Public Land, San Francisco, 1979–2002; legal counsel, Avco Community Developers, 1977–1978; deputy county counsel, county of Orange, 1970–1977
Education: BA, Occidental College; MA, University of California, Los Angeles; JD, University of California, Berkeley
Describe your organization: Sonoma Land Trust protects the scenic, natural, agricultural and open landscapes of Sonoma County for the benefit of the community and future generations by:
- Developing long-term land protection strategies.
- Promoting private and public funding for land conservation.
- Acquiring land and conservation easements.
- Practicing stewardship, including the restoration of conservation properties.
- Promoting a sense of place and a land ethic through activities, education and outreach.
Sonoma Land Trust believes land is the foundation of our economy and our community’s health and well-being. Since 1976, Sonoma Land Trust has preserved more than 47,000 acres of scenic, natural, agricultural and open land for future generations.
Tell us a little bit about yourself: I have been the Executive director of the Sonoma Land Trust since 2003.
I was born in Akron, Ohio, spent my early years in Rutherford, N.J., and have been a Californian since age 9. While raised on the Peninsula, I have longstanding ties to Sonoma County, having spent my teen years leading trail rides through the redwoods along Austin Creek in Cazadero where my father was the director of the San Francisco Boy Scout’s Camp Royaneh.
After law school, I served as deputy county counsel in Orange County and then as legal counsel to a large land development company.
In the late ’70s, I moved with my family to Berkeley and began a 24-year career with the Trust for Public Land (TPL) in San Francisco as general counsel, then executive vice president and chief operating officer, helping to grow TPL into one of the nation’s leading conservation organizations.
While at TPL, I played a key role in protecting thousands of acres in the Mountains to Sound Greenway east of Seattle, the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, Sweeny Ridge on the San Francisco peninsula, the Barton Springs Greenway in Austin, Texas, the neighborhood around the birthplace of Martin Luther King, Jr. in Atlanta, community gardens in New York City and Walden Woods.
I served on the founding board of the Rails to Trails Conservancy, and as a past board chair of Save the Bay, and past board member and president of the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory in Colorado, and have consulted on land conservation projects in Chile, New Zealand and Cuba. I have two daughters and two grandkids.
What achievement are you most proud of?: Sonoma Land Trust, which is an independent nonprofit, promoted Measure F in 2006 to extend the life of the Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District, our county government partner, for another 20 years.
We leverage the quarter cent sales tax revenues that support the District with state, federal and, most importantly, private philanthropic capital. In the last 10 years, we have brought more than $80 million to Sonoma County for land conservation.
Between the district and the land trust, nearly 15 percent of the open land in our 1 million-acre county is protected forever. It’s all about the land.
What is your biggest challenge today?: We are interested in protecting Sonoma County’s beautiful, large-scale, open, natural and agricultural landscapes from subdivision in order to maintain a resilient hedge against the effects of climate change.
What is the next major project either underway or on the horizon?: We are working with private landowners to protect wildlife corridors across the Sonoma Valley from the Mayacamas to Sonoma Mountain. We are also restoring more than 1,000 acres of tidal wetlands south of Highway 37.
Before the end of the year, we hope to acquire the 238-acre summit of Pole Mountain — the highest point along the Sonoma Coast. That will effectively expand our Jenner Headlands Preserve to more than 6,000 acres.
What product or service would/or is helping you do your job more effectively?: We are large consumers of land-restoration services.
How do you think your profession will change in the next five years?: In reality, we probably have a 20-year window to protect our remaining open spaces. There is plenty of room for growth within Sonoma County, but it needs to happen within our urban-growth boundaries. If growth is channeled into the cities and we can prevent the further fragmentation of our rural landscapes, future generations will be able to know and enjoy the beauty of Sonoma County as we do today.
Most admired businessperson outside your organization: Dick and Mary Hafner of Hafner Vineyard are citizens of the first order.
Current reading: I’m about 30 pages into six or seven books — mostly nonfiction history.
Most want to meet: New people interested in supporting Sonoma Land Trust and the work we do.
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