ESLT Heads to Sacramento: Reflections on the California Land Conservation Conference!

If you happened to call or visit the ESLT office this week, you probably learned that most of us have been MIA since Monday. Where was all the action? Along with Board Members Randy Keller, Will Richmond, and ESLT’s newest addition, Tim Bartley, four of ESLT’s full-time staff members were out representing the Eastside’s conservation community at the California Land Conservation Conference!

Held in Sacramento by the California Council of Land Trusts, this event is the largest annual gathering of California land trusts, agencies, and conservation professionals in the state. We spent this week soaking up the wisdom of the conference’s outstanding speakers, attending valuable workshops, and spreading our mission among our peers – many of whom are not as familiar with the importance of preserving the Eastern Sierra’s wonders as you or I.

ESLT staff and board at the 2014 California Land Conservation Conference

After three busy days learning from – and networking with – some of California’s most prominent conservation decision-makers and devotees, the ESLT Staff and Board has plenty of inspirations to share!

“All together, we had a group of seven attending the conference, and each of us will bring back something new to our work at ESLT,” said Kay Ogden, ESLT’s Executive Director. “It’s important to recognize and thank our three Board Members who took time out of their busy schedules to attend. In doing so, Tim, Randy and Will have shown the community their commitment and passion – to our organization, to the Eastside, and to the tradition of land conservation throughout our state.”

On the drive home last night, Kay, Tim, and Will reflected on what they gleaned from the conference, and on how that will affect our work here on the Eastside. Here’s a sampling of their thoughts:

“One overriding theme at the conference was a growing emphasis on monitoring and stewardship, particularly in the most mature, long-established land trusts. These organizations underscored the priority of planning for stewardship; as we grow, it’s important to continue to anticipate the ongoing cost and expertise required to manage our lands in perpetuity.” Tim Bartley, ESLT Board Member

“Another trend I noticed was one exhibited by some of the biggest land trusts, like Big Sur Land Trust: they’re emphasizing work that connects them with their local communities. They’re focusing more and more on the people living near their protected spaces, and how to increase their quality of life by introducing them to the landscapes they’ve preserved.” Kay Ogden, ESLT Executive Director

“The legislative body in California is changing – especially given our new, 12-year term limits. Many of our new leaders are coming from urban centers, and are connecting with the urban constituents. We live behind the ‘Sierra Curtain,’ and so it’s extremely important that we introduce them to the eastern side of California, too.” Will Richmond, ESLT Board Member

“In the same vein, we need to offer these legislative leaders the opportunity to get out on the land, and to explore the wonders of the Eastside. If we can give them personal experiences and connections with the special places we work to preserve, we can help underscore the importance of maintaining the Eastside’s iconic lands.” Kay Ogden, ESLT Executive Director