Last year, we doubled the size of our service area in response to requests from many natural resources partners in the John Day River Basin to provide land trust services in that region. Our board approved this expansion in February 2017, and we established an office in John Day, Oregon in July, managed by Amanda Martino. Our conservation director, Jason Bulay, provided help and oversight to Marti as she shifted that office into high gear.
One year later, we’ve made three organizational changes that will enhance the conservation work throughout our enlarged service area.
First, the service area was administratively divided into two regions. The north region includes all of our original service area (Walla Walla, Columbia, Garfield and Asotin counties in Washington, and Umatilla and Union counties in Oregon) and adds Morrow county. The south region encompasses the entire John Day River Basin including Grant, Wheeler, Gilliam, and Sherman counties, all in Oregon.
Second, we established conservation committees in both regions. These committees are chaired by our conservation directors and include landowners, state and federal natural resource agency employees, and volunteers knowledgeable in conservation. By having regional conservation committees, we now have people who best know the properties and the conservation needs of both areas.
Finally, we expanded our conservation staff leadership by region as well. Jason and Marti are now both regional conservation directors. Jason is officed in Walla Walla and leads land protection work in the north region. Marti directs our conservation work in the south region from her office in John Day. This has simplified our workflow and streamlined our conservation operations. Given the very substantial land protection opportunities we have in both regions, being nimble and efficient will produce great benefits.