News Room



Sheri Cardo
Director of Communications
(707) 526-6930 x111


Sonoma Land Trust executive director Dave Koehler to retire next year

Koehler(SANTA ROSA, CALIF., October 22, 2018) — Dave Koehler, Sonoma Land Trust executive director since 2015, has announced his intention to retire in October 2019 after leading the organization for four and a half years. The Land Trust board of directors has initiated a national search for his successor.

Koehler joined Sonoma Land Trust in 2015, replacing then-longtime director Ralph Benson. During his tenure, Koehler, an award-winning conservation leader, has advanced the Land Trust’s acquisition of several key properties, as well as wildlife corridor preservation and tidal marsh restoration projects at Sears Point. Koehler also added new focus areas to the Land Trust, such as Russian River watershed protection and expanding community conservation programs with Bay Camp; and new public outdoor experiences, like the opening of Sonoma Land Trust’s first public preserve, Pole Mountain.

“Dave’s steady hand and strategic planning have created a strong framework for our work going forward,” says Allison Sanford, chair of the Sonoma Land Trust board of directors. “His warmth and capacity for team building and community engagement have strongly enhanced our capacity to fulfill our mission. I speak for the entire board when I say how much we appreciate and will miss him.”

With nearly 30 years of experience as a land trust executive director, Koehler has worked alongside Sonoma Land Trust’s leadership team to achieve growth in protected lands, land stewardship and connecting people to the land. Sonoma Land Trust’s most significant accomplishments under his leadership include:

  • Opening the Land Trust’s first public preserve, Pole Mountain, and the “Sea to Sky Trail,” a 7.5-mile trail that connects the Jenner Headlands to Pole Mountain
  • Adding the Russian River watershed as a focused land protection initiative
  • Adding a 2.5-mile extension to the Bay Trail at Sears Point
  • Creating a community programs department focused on diversifying the Land Trust’s audience through programming for Latinos, youth and families, such as Bay Camp
  • Working to address impacts of the 2017 Sonoma Complex Fires, as well as building new partnerships to address wildfire in Sonoma County
  • Protecting three properties totaling 2,000 acres, and adding 10,000 acres and more than 10 properties to the Land Trust’s active protection project pipeline
  • Taking leadership roles in securing the passage of Bay Area-wide Measure AA and statewide Proposition 68, and, currently, working to pass Measure M in Sonoma County

Prior to joining Sonoma Land Trust, Koehler served as executive director of the San Joaquin River Parkway and Conservation Trust for 25 years. There, he guided the organization through the planning and establishment of the San Joaquin River Parkway, a 23-mile greenway of conservation lands, parks, trails and river access. Having developed a passion for conservation as a child growing up in Fresno, Koehler fished along the San Joaquin River as often as he could; as an adult, he left a 10-year career in banking when the opportunity arose to work on saving his imperiled river. He was key in collaboratively protecting more than 4,000 acres and establishing the Coke Hallowell Center for River Studies along a “National Waterway” — a fact that was recognized by former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, who presented Koehler with the prestigious Partners in Conservation Award in 2011. Koehler is a graduate of California State University at Fresno with a degree in environmental biology. He currently serves on the board of the California Council of Land Trusts.

Upon retirement, Koehler will be 64. After his three decades in land conservation, he and his wife, Sharon, plan to remain in their West County home and are looking forward to a long run of travel exploring our National Parks system. The Koehlers also plan to continue to be a part of the Sonoma Land Trust community as supporters, members and nature lovers.

“It’s a privilege to serve Sonoma Land Trust and our county’s land conservation community in this role — and I still have a lot of work yet to do in the coming year!,” says Koehler. “We’re perfectly poised for the future and I look forward to supporting our leadership transition and ushering in an exciting new phase of land conservation for our community.”  

The Sonoma Land Trust board of directors has organized a search committee and will engage an executive search consultant to lead a nationwide recruitment effort for a new executive director. Koehler made his announcement at this time to give the Land Trust ample time to conduct a search for a new executive and ensure a smooth transition.


About Sonoma Land Trust
Sonoma Land Trust believes land is the foundation of our economy and our community’s health and well-being. Since 1976, Sonoma Land Trust has protected more than 50,000 acres of scenic, natural, agricultural and open land for future generations, and is accredited by the Land Trust Accreditation Commission.  

Sheri Cardo
Director of Communications
(707) 526-6930 x111










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