Partnering with Northwest Land Trusts

One of the benefits of the Blue Mountain Land Trust’s service area, which spans two states, is the opportunity to participate in both the Oregon and Washington land trust associations: The Coalition of Oregon Land Trusts (COLT) and the Washington Association of Land Trusts (WALT).

The membership of these two organizations comprises of land trusts that operate in their respective states. COLT has 19 land trust members and WALT has 25. 

Both organizations have extraordinarily capable leaders. Kelley Beamer, Executive Director of COLT, has held that position for five years. Hannah Clark served as WALT’s executive director for just under four years. In July, she will assume a new role as the Northwest regional director of the American Farmland Trust. Fortunately for us, we’ll work very closely with Hannah in her new role as we continue to enhance and preserve working farms and ranches in Oregon and Washington. 

Nick Norton, Interim Director of the Palouse Land Trust, will become WALT’s executive director in mid-August. 

The purpose of both organizations is to serve as advocates of land trust policies in Salem, Olympia and Washington, DC. It’s beyond the capacity of most individual land trusts to closely follow political and governmental actions that impact our work. Through WALT and COLT, we have representatives keeping us informed and sharing our views with elected and appointed government officials. Both Kelley and Hannah are well-respected advocates of land trust interests in their respective state houses and court houses. We’re confident that Nick will soon be a very effective advocate of our interests. 

Both associations are governed by their land trust members via their boards of directors. All member land trusts may appoint one director to their association boards. I’ve represented BMLT on both boards for nearly four years. I just completed a two-year term as COLT’s treasurer and was recently elected to fill an unexpired term as WALT’s president because Amanda Reed of the Capitol Land Trust (Olympia) became the head of policy for The Nature Conservancy in Canada. 

Our regional conservation directors, Jason Bulay and Amanda Martino, will be our primary board members in the future. Jason will represent us at WALT, and Marti will be our COLT director. We will continue to be strong supporters of both associations and provide them with leadership whenever that will be helpful.

One of the most valuable activities of both groups is their joint sponsorship of LandCamp. LandCamp is a four-day education retreat held every other year and is open to all member land trusts’ staff and board members. Last year, the school’s site in Corbett, OR was overloaded with eager students and sold out four weeks in advance. To meet this extraordinary demand, I invited COLT and WALT to consider Walla Walla as a new location for LandCamp. Whitman College’s greater capacity, beautiful surroundings and towns, and the joys of being in Walla Walla in June sold both organizations on the idea. Next June, we look forward to hosting 300-plus people from Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Western Montana. They will all have a great time in Walla Walla and the Blue Mountains.