Leadership Changes



January 17, 2020   

BELLINGHAM, Washington – Whatcom Land Trust announced today that long-time Conservation Director Gabe Epperson will step into the Executive Director position effective February 1st, 2020, as part of the organization’s ongoing efforts to build on its more than 35 years of local land conservation.

Epperson will be taking over from Rich Bowers, Whatcom Land Trusts Executive Director since 2015, who is now retiring. Under Bowers’ leadership, the Land Trust has greatly strengthened its capacity to protect Whatcom County’s land and water for the benefit of people and wildlife through legal securement of land, stewardship of WLT properties, and engagement of the community in conservation activities.

Board President Chris Moench said, “After nearly five years as our Executive Director, Rich leaves the Trust with a huge legacy of successes on so many levels. Under Rich’s leadership we protected more acres and now take better care of the lands we steward. We work with vastly more individual volunteers, business, government and non-profit partners than ever before. The Trust’s reputation and support within the Whatcom County community is stellar and still rising. We are consistently staying in the black on our operations budget and are able to find the resources to accomplish bigger, more complex, conservation projects. Rich has built a staff of profoundly dedicated, skilled and inspiring people that work together like a championship sports team.”

During Bowers’ tenure, Whatcom Land Trust played a key role in the conservation of iconic properties including California Creek, Galbraith Mountain, Governors Point and Skookum Creek. Rich also solidified organizational finances and systems, built a strong team of staff, oversaw completion of both Conservation and Communications/Outreach strategic plans, including migration to a new Land Trust website, and led the largest community-driven fundraising campaign to acquire Skookum Creek as well as the 2017 reaccreditation process through the national Land Trust Accreditation Program.

Mr. Epperson brings a strong track record of environmental leadership in the non-profit sector. Gabe led the Land Trust’s acquisition efforts over the last four and a half years, protecting over 4,000-acres of high priority park land, wildlife habitat and farms in Whatcom County. Prior to joining the Land Trust, Gabe was the Planning Director for Envision Utah, a nationally recognized Smart Growth Planning non-profit that worked on regional conservation, land use and transportation planning. Gabe brings a comprehensive and wide-ranging perspective on nature, politics and leadership. Gabe has a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from the University of Utah and a Bachelor’s in Environmental Studies from Middlebury College in Vermont. Gabe is an avid outdoorsman, having grown up in Utah hiking in the Wasatch Mountains and exploring the National Parks in Southern Utah. Gabe and his wife Elisabeth have two children in Happy Valley Elementary School and they enjoy spending their weekends visiting Whatcom County parks and the San Juan Islands.  “Point Whitehorn was the first Land Trust protected property we visited as a family”, said Gabe, “and it remains our favorite outdoor family destination.”

“I am honored to be taking the helm as the new Executive Director,” said Gabe, “and I intend to maintain and grow our reputation as THE conservation leader in Whatcom County.”

“Over the last nine months the Board undertook a nation-wide search which attracted many excellent applicants,” said President Moench. “Among them our own long-time Conservation Director Gabe Epperson. Given the demanding and multi-faceted nature of the Executive Director’s job the Board felt it critical that the Land Trust have a leader with the most relevant experience and the best record of accomplishments we could find. We also wanted a leader who would fit well with the collaborative culture of the organization. Through the search process Gabe rose to the top as the one person who fit the Land Trust’s needs best. The Board is very excited to bring Gabe in as our new Executive Director and we are eager to see the Land Trust continue to flourish under his leadership.”

Contact: Karen Parker, Communications Director.
Phone: 360-746-3172
Email: karenparker@whatcomlandtrust.org

Whatcom Land Trust is an accredited, community-based nonprofit organization that works with local landowners and other partners to protect the natural values and resources important to the Whatcom County community. Since 1984, Whatcom Land Trust has conserved over 24,000 acres of land.

The Mission of the Whatcom Land Trust is to preserve and protect wildlife habitat, scenic, agricultural and open space lands in Whatcom County for future generations bysecuring interests in land and promoting land stewardship.

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