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THE POSITION: Conservation Easement Program Manager
LOCATION: Santa Rosa, California
AVAILABILITY: December, 2017

About the Organization:

Sonoma Land Trust (SLT) is an accredited, nonprofit land trust with a staff of thirty-three and an annual operating budget of six million dollars. It works to keep the beautiful and varied rural landscapes of Sonoma Land Trust intact for future generations. Many properties acquired by Sonoma Land Trust are transferred to public agencies and other nonprofit organizations. To date, Sonoma Land Trust has protected over 48,000 acres. The organization works in partnership with the Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District and other public agencies and nonprofit organizations to accomplish its mission.

Sonoma Land Trust is an established nonprofit organization in Sonoma County doing innovative and cutting edge conservation work in the northern San Francisco bay area. We have a dedicated staff that works well together, laughs together, and makes a difference in the world. We are lucky to work in a region that values and supports conservation, where natural resources are part of our collective identity. The conservation easement program stewards 46 conservation easements on 7,000 acres of private lands, and is a core program area of our work.

Position Summary:

Sonoma Land Trust is seeking an experienced, creative, and detail-oriented conservation professional to join our fast-paced stewardship team and lead our conservation easement (CE) stewardship program at a time of change, challenge and opportunity in Sonoma County. Just as each easement is unique, so too are the strategies for relationship-building and conflict resolution among landowners. As a result, our broad portfolio of conservation easements across a variety of landscapes requires a creative-yet-logical, experienced-yet-adventurous approach by an individual who loves interpreting legal language and getting the details just right. We seek a colleague with a good sense of humor, who likes working with people and loves the land.

General Duties:

The conservation easement program manager is responsible for the overall stewardship of our conservation easements, ensuring that our high standards are maintained and that we are able to meet future needs and opportunities. The CE program manager collaborates with our acquisitions team on new conservation easement projects. They also oversee communication and relationships with landowners; manage requests for approvals and reserved rights; manage the violation/enforcement strategies; maintain accurate records for each easement property; and direct the easement monitoring program. In light of the 2017 firestorms, stewardship of impacted conservation easement properties will also include creation of fire response strategies, appropriate property and impact documentation and time-sensitive communication with landowners. SLT’s easements are monitored annually by staff and by a corps of dedicated volunteers. The CE program manager is responsible for training and motivating the volunteers and, in collaboration with the volunteer program manager, recruits and acknowledges their contributions. The program manager also maintains and builds positive relationships with conservation easement landowners; collaborates with partner organizations; serves as the point of contact with legal counsel on conservation easement defense; and works closely with other SLT staff members. The CE program manager supervises interns and also 50% of the stewardship associate project manager’s time.

Essential Duties and Responsibilities:

A. Conservation Easement Program Management

  • Collaborate with the acquisition team to assess proposed conservation easement projects; complete site visits; assist the acquisition lead with technical review and drafting of conservation easement documentation
  • Manage the baseline documentation report process for new conservation easements
  • Draft policies, reports and provide organizational updates related to CE stewardship
  • Develop annual budget and work plan for CE stewardship program
  • Keep abreast of trends and initiatives to keep the CE program positioned on the leading edge of land conservation. Work with colleagues and attorneys to keep stewardship practices current and effective
  • Supervise associate project manager for 50% of his/her time. Supervise volunteers and interns to assist with program needs
  • Represent SLT in public venues and make presentations to community groups and at professional conferences (e.g., Land Trust Alliance (LTA) rally, California Council of Land Trusts conference)

B. Conservation Easement Stewardship

  • Maintain records for each conservation easement, including approval and enforcement correspondence, tracking property statistics, ownership contact information, baseline documentation reports and monitoring reports
  • Utilize relevant and current technologies, including ArcGIS software to collect data and create current maps for conservation easement properties
  • Ensure that SLT’s practices are consistent with LTA’s accreditation standards and practices
  • For properties impacted by 2017 firestorms, appropriately document fire impacts and coordinate landowner outreach throughout the organization. Ensure necessary LTA standards and any legal needs are met. Support landowners as appropriate.
  • Direct SLT’s annual monitoring program and its 70+ volunteers
  • Direct the landowner relations program to cultivate strong relationships with conservation easement landowners. Work with director of philanthropy and other staff as needed to achieve this end
  • Analyze and interpret conservation easement language and other legal documents in order to resolve questions and disputes related to easement activities and enforcement strategies. Consult with attorneys, the SLT executive director and the stewardship director to resolve issues
  • Review and respond in a timely way to notices and requests for approval related to reserved and restricted rights on each property as defined by its conservation easement
  • Manage all aspects of conservation easement violations and requests for easement amendments, including field work, easement review and interpretation, and thorough documentation of all aspects of the issues. Work in collaboration with legal counsel, landowners, the executive director, the director of stewardship and the board of directors as needed.

    C. Other Duties
  • Participate in various local, regional, state and national efforts related to conservation easements and natural resource management
  • Work with SLT’s communications team to support and develop public outreach opportunities, newsletter articles, blog submissions, etc., related to conservation easements
  • Promote, coordinate and participate in recreational activities such as hikes, stewardship work parties, environmental education, and member events

Qualifications and Requirements:

  • College degree or equivalent experience in relevant field (e.g. law, land use, environmental planning, natural resource management, etc.)
  • Demonstrated work experience with conservation easements, land use law, land conservation, and/or natural resource management
  • Demonstrated proficiency with Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and ArcGIS
  • Experience with GPS field units a plus. Comfort and interest in applying existing and new technology desirable
  • Ability to work occasional weekends or after business hours
  • Must be able to hike up to six miles per day over steep and rugged terrain, and be able to lift and carry up to thirty pounds
  • Must have a vehicle to use for Sonoma Land Trust business, a valid U.S. driver’s license, and personal auto insurance.

Personal Qualities:

  • A geeky passion for legal documents, zoning ordinances, title reports, and similar esoterica
  • Superior written and oral communications skills
  • Exceptional organizational and administrative skills
  • Creativity and problem solving skills are essential, as are curiosity, independence, and ability to work as a collaborative member of a team

Schedule, Salary & Benefits:

This is a full time, permanent position. Sonoma Land Trust offers very competitive salaries and benefits. Salary for this position is contingent upon experience and qualifications.

To Apply:

Please e-mail a letter introducing yourself and a copy of your resume to staffing@sonomalandtrust.org. Please: no phone calls, drop-ins or paper.

Hiring Process:

Deadline for applications is October 27, 2017. The position is open until filled. We will acknowledge by e-mail receipt of each application within a week of receipt.

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