Changes Underway as Our Conservation Legacy Continues!

Letter from the Bear Yuba Land Trust President: 
Changes Underway as Our Conservation Legacy Continues!

The year 2020 was a remarkable one for Bear Yuba Land Trust (BYLT).  In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic and the destructive Jones Fire, BYLT demonstrated nimbleness as an organization and visionary leadership to expand our conservation efforts and address important community needs, especially with our Forever Farms Program. Over the past three years, Erin Tarr and Erika Seward have guided our course as an effective, vanguard Co-Executive Director partnership, expanding our conservation footprint to over 16,000 acres and securing funding for stewardship and restoration work. Through this shared leadership, Erin and Erika have been able to form collaborative partnerships with many local nonprofits, public entities and state agencies to reach common goals. Their collective innovation made it possible to create new recreation opportunities, proactively pursue important conservation projects, and establish sustainable organizational systems that ensure BYLT will continue to thrive for many years to come. We are seeing the fruits of this focus and their leadership in our financial stability today and recognized relevance within our community.

As we look to 2021, Erin Tarr is assuming responsibility as Executive Director effective February 1st. Erin has three years as BYLT Co-ED and over a decade of leadership in land conservation with the land trust community in California. The BYLT Board is confident in Erin’s leadership to guide our Land Trust in the next stage of our work.Co-ED Erika Seward has accepted a leadership opportunity to continue conservation and recreation work with Johnson County Park and Recreation District in the Kansas City area. We celebrate her decision both professionally to advance her career and personally to raise her family nearer her parents. Erika will be missed for her passion and visionary spirit.  We all wish her much success and happiness.

We are also delighted to welcome Kate Gazzo as Stewardship Manager and Jerry Dion as Finance & Operations Director.

Jerry Dion brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the organization. He holds an MBA from UC Davis in Administration, a MS from University of Wisconsin in Applied Ecology and a BS in Environmental Biology and Management from UC Davis. Professionally, Jerry acted as the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of River Partners for 5 years, a nonprofit conservation group out of Chico, and is the current CFO of Dive Paradise. Jerry lives locally at Nevada City Co-Housing with his wife and their three sons. Jerry will be replacing our longtime Bookkeeper Lisa Hooper. Lisa’s leadership has been a guiding light as we’ve navigated through the COVID-19 pandemic, two major community campaigns, and a transition to a new financial management system which has created transparency and efficiency.

Kate Gazzo joins us from Truckee and will serve as Stewardship Manager overseeing our portfolio of protected lands including BYLT’s fee title properties which currently encompass over 3,700 acres spread across 9 nature preserves. Kate came to California in 2012 to pursue a Master’s degree in Environmental Management at USF and has since served as a conservation planner and project manager for Westervelt in Sacramento conducting ecological surveys ranging from forest, wetland and stream assessments to special-status wildlife monitoring.

Additionally, I’d like to recognize the leadership of our immediate Past President Robert Smail who continues to serve on our Executive Committee along with our continuing active Board members.  We congratulate our 2021 Board Officers Vice President & Treasurer Katie McCamant and Secretary Tim Ackerman, and welcome new Board members Tom Holdrege, Cathy Roberts and Debbie Wivholm. A special thank you is in order for our past Board members for their long service and dedication to BYLT who have termed off: Andy Cassano and Terry Hundemer, Fred Holden and Letty Litchfield with whom I was honored to serve on the Board for many years.

In addition to our two new staff members, our amazing and talented staff remain committed to our work and mission. I’d like to acknowledge their  on-the-ground collaborative leadership:

Felicia Dunn                  Community Engagement Manager
Sarah West                    Administrative Manager
Shaun Clarke                 Trails Stewardship Coordinator
Bill Haire                        Trails Coordinator
Chemane Borello          Conservation Coordinator

We also want to acknowledge you — our members, donors, landowners and partners. Our success is your success!  To each of you, thank you for being a part of the BYLT family. It’s been an incredible year and we are excited about what lies ahead for our Land Trust and community!

Most sincerely,

Robin Milam
Bear Yuba Land Trust