In February, 2001, ESLT gained 501(c)3 nonprofit status as the first and only local land trust in the Eastern Sierra. But how does a land trust begin? According to Rick Kattelmann, one of the founding members and a former Mono County Planning Commission member, “I remember ten years of assorted conversations, casual talk about how the Eastern Sierra could use a land trust.” And then in 2000, seven Mono County citizens, including Rick, decided the time was right. The group expressed their interest in the viable development alternatives, mitigations, and critical rangeland and habitat protections that land trusts can provide. Their assorted skills, including a retired attorney, professional botanist, and hydrologist, helped them form by-laws and articles of incorporation.
Stephen Ingram, another founding member, became involved in the process when he wanted to preserve his land, but couldn’t find an organization to help him do so. His property was considered too small to preserve by The Nature Conservancy. Stephen didn’t agree. His twenty acres sat in the important wildlife migration corridor for the Round Valley mule deer herd. Taking matters into their own hands, Stephen, and his wife Karen (current ESLT Executive Director), were part of the founding board of directors and donated the organization’s first conservation easement.
In 2010, ESLT has nearly completed its first decade of work, supported by an amazing grassroots outpouring. Our local land trust has gone from a group of neighbors talking about preservation to a nonprofit organization with more than 600 members helping preserve more than 6000 acres. When asked what was the most exciting development since its inception, Tony Taylor, ESLT’s board president replied, “When the Resources Law Group contacted ESLT. They asked me to write up a letter describing our organization. Through that grant, we were able to hire our first Executive Director, Julie Bear. The rest is history.” Today, ESLT has five staff members and an active board with nine members, and is engaged in preserving thousands of acres of treasured lands for future generations.
Look for a big 10 year anniversary party next year at this time and thank you for making it happen!