Land Trust reports on invasive species, access to trails

 

June 21, 2013 - Land Trust Napa Register Quarterly Article

 

Happy solstice and summer from the Land Trust of Napa County. The field season is in full swing here at the Trust, and it’s been a busy time for stewardship activities out on our preserves.

Staff and dedicated volunteers have been working hard to control invasive exotic plant species across the preserve network, including Italian thistle, French broom, and Himalayan blackberry.

As the names imply, these plants were introduced to our area from other regions, often other continents, through human activity, and are now displacing native plants and degrading wildlife habitat.

We use a variety of methods for controlling exotic invasive plants, including hand pulling, mowing and selective herbicide application.

Last week, we had a rare opportunity to use another effective technique for controlling invasives and restoring habitat: prescribed fire. With the generous assistance of outstanding CalFire firefighting crews led by battalion chiefs Jim Wright and Geoffe Belyea, the Land Trust was able to implement a 60-acre prescribed burn on its Missimer Snell Valley Wildflower Preserve.

The burn was a crucial first step in restoring Missimer Snell Valley’s unique serpentine meadow system, which has been heavily invaded and degraded by an introduced plant from Europe called barbed goatgrass.

“Serpentine” refers to the meadow’s soil type, which is toxic to many native plants but supports others that have evolved to cope with this toxicity. The preserve’s serpentine meadows have long been regarded as one the most important botanical sites in both Napa County and the Bay Area.

Several of these adapted native species are restricted to serpentine soils, and are found nowhere else in the world. Based on research conducted by UC Davis scientists, last week’s prescribed fire should greatly reduce the density of invasive barbed goatgrass by destroying its seeds, and stimulate germination of native plants.

We’ll be monitoring the effects of the burn in the coming months and years, and will provide updates on how the meadows are recovering.

Exploring the land

On another note, Land Trust staff have also been working to get folks out on the land and connect them with Napa’s beautiful and diverse natural areas. There will be a summer public access orientation series at our Dunn-Wildlake and Duff Preserves. The Trust will open portions of Wildlake and Duff to hiking and biking for those who have completed an orientation. Participants will be provided with information on visitor use, the Trust’s preserve network, Preserve natural history and ecology and ways to get involved with land stewardship efforts.

Our first orientation will be at Wildlake’s Hunting Camp Trailhead from 10-10:30 a.m. on June 23, followed by additional sessions on July 17 and Aug. 24.

For more details or to RSVP for an orientation session, contact Land Trust of Napa County at 707-261-6329 or visit NapaLandTrust.org.

Lena Septimo and Mike Palladini are membes of Land Trust Napa County.

 

Land Trust of Napa County applies for national accreditation

 

We are excited to announce that the Land Trust of Napa County is applying for national accreditation. The accreditation program recognizes land conservation organizations that meet national quality standards for protecting important natural places and working lands forever. We invite our members and constituents to participate in this process by sharing their views about the Land Trust with the Accreditation Commission during a public comment period.

 

The Land Trust Accreditation Commission is an independent program of the Land Trust Alliance. It will conduct an extensive review of our policies and programs; as part of the process the Commission requests public input and accepts signed, written comments on pending applications. Comments must relate to how the Land Trust of Napa County complies with established national standards addressing the ethical and technical operation of a land trust. For the full list of standards see http://www.landtrustaccreditation.org/tips-and-tools/indicator-practices.

 

To learn more about the accreditation program and to submit a comment, visit www.landtrustaccreditation.org, or email your comment to info@landtrustaccreditation.org. Comments may also be faxed or mailed to the Land Trust Accreditation Commission, Attn: Public Comments: (fax) 518-587-3183; (mail) 36 Phila Street, Suite 201, Saratoga Springs, NY 12866.

 

Comments on the Land Trust of Napa County’s application should be submitted by June 2, 2013.  Thank you for your input.

 

 

 

Land Trust hopes to raise profile, revenue with purchase of Borreo

 

February 9, 2013 - Napa Register Editorial Board

Little, if anything, in the Land Trust of Napa County’s mission is temporary. The group’s panoptic objective is the perpetual preservation of land in Napa County.

And when eternity is your aim, leasing office space does not fit the business plan. As such, in 2012, the organization set out to purchase the historic Borreo Building in downtown Napa.

It is one of several eye-catching recent changes at the Land Trust as the nonprofit looks to better establish its foundation for local land preservation.

The organization, which has steadily grown in influence and now owns 6,600 acres of land and protects some $30 million in local property assets, hired Doug Parker in December as its new chief executive officer and executive director.

One of the largest trusts in the Bay Area, Napa County’s land preservation group is also in the process of applying for national accreditation to further its local reputation and encourage more participation from landowners and volunteers.

Its volunteer base already numbers in the hundreds, officials said, currently helping to maintain nine county land preserves and assisting with the conservation of more than 53,000 acres in its 37-year history. Most notably, in 2011, the Land Trust completed its $25 million fundraising campaign to purchase and protect 4,000 acres between St. Helena and Calistoga at Dunn-Wildlake Ranch.

The group — through the help of its board of directors — is developing a strategic plan to identify and prioritize every parcel in the county in the hope of encouraging more donations and easements.

Federal tax incentives to encourage donations of conservation easements are set to expire at the end of 2013, which has expedited the group’s public awareness campaign, Parker said.

Having a more prominent presence in downtown Napa by purchasing and renovating the city-owned Borreo Building was also part of that plan, officials said.

Negotiations with the city are ongoing. But the Land Trust, which is investing $2.2 million into the project, said it already has a tenant lined up for the ground floor of the facility. The organization will use the second floor for its administrative staff.

Much of the necessary renovation is also dependent on the Army Corps of Engineers’ flood control work for the area, which is still pending. Trust officials said there is no plan, however, to greatly improve the site’s limited parking options.

Access issues notwithstanding, Land Trust leaders, including outgoing CEO Joel Tranmer, said last week the property fits into the organization’s philosophy of preserving the character and history of Napa County while promoting future development within its urban centers.

The group hopes to move into escrow on the property this spring.

As recently as five years ago, the nonprofit had an operating deficit, according to Board Chairman Rob Andreae. Its financial outlook is much better today, however, and the group hopes to produce more recurring cashflow through leasing half of the Borreo facility.

It is a step in the right direction for an organization that must plan not just for tomorrow, but for future generations.

The threat of development within Napa County increases every day. And while the county’s Agricultural Preserve has had unparalleled success at slowing its spread, the more land that can be permanently preserved through the Land Trust, the better it protects Napa’s agricultural character.

 

 

Land Trust of Napa County Announces New President and CEO

 

October 8, 2012, Napa, CA – The Board of Tustees of the Land Trust of Napa County is pleased to announce the appointment of Douglas Parker as President and CEO. Parker succeeds Joel Tranmer as the President & CEO and John Hoffnagle, who served as the Executive Director of the Trust for 24 years.

Parker has worked in land conservation for over 20 years, serving as CEO of two different statewide conservation organizations.  He comes from Audubon Vermont, where he has served as Executive Director since 2005, as well as Vice President of the National Audubon Society. Prior to that, Parker served as Director of External Affairs for the Colorado Conservation Trust and was State Director for the Nature Conservancy in Rhode Island. He was also Director of Marketing with TechnoServe, and holds a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Colorado and a Master’s degree in Public and Private Management from the Yale School of Management.

"After a nationwide search, we are pleased to have found Doug to lead the Land Trust of Napa County in its mission of preserving the character of Napa County by permanently protecting land,” said Rob Andreae, Board Chair. “Doug will be a wonderful asset to the organization and the community."

“I’m excited to join the Land Trust of Napa County”, said Parker.  “The Land Trust has a very important mission and a strong history of tangible achievements.  I look forward to working with the board, the staff and with landowners and partners to build on this tradition and help increase the pace of conservation in Napa County.”

As President and CEO, Parker’s responsibilities will include directing and overseeing all aspects of Land Trust activities to advance the mission of the organization, including the acquisition, transfer and stewardship of conservation properties. Parker will continue to build on the Trust’s long-standing mission of permanently protecting Napa County land by developing and maintaining strong relationships with landowners, donors, foundations and public agencies through outreach and advocacy, while continuing to develop innovative approaches to land conservation and stewardship.