If you’ve stopped by ESLT’s office recently, you’ve likely noticed some fresh faces. We’ve been growing – after all, ’tis the season! – and we’re thrilled to introduce you to Susanna Danner, the latest addition to our team. Joining us at the start of this month, Sus now fills a critical role at ESLT as our Land Conservation Program Director.

“The Eastern Sierra has been a touchstone for my family since I was small,

“The Eastern Sierra has been a touchstone for my family since I was small,” Sus told us. “To have an opportunity to help preserve the lands and waters here feels like a gift.”

When our former Lands Director of six years, Aaron Johnson, announced that he had been offered a too-good-to-refuse position with our friends at the CA Department of Fish and Wildlife back in December 2014, all of us at ESLT knew that it would be a formidable task to find someone to fill his shoes. Now, with Sus on staff, we are excited to announce that we’ve found the ideal person for this complex job.

As the Land Conservation Program Director, Sus is leading ESLT’s efforts to identify opportunities to protect land in our region. She will work closely with landowners, State and Federal agencies, and other organizations to execute land transactions and turn those potential opportunities into successful stories of land conservation. As the manager of all of our completed land projects, she is also in charge of directing ESLT’s Stewardship Program to ensure that our protected landscapes continue to thrive and benefit the community long into the future.

Sus brings with her a wealth of professional experience perfectly suited for her new role with ESLT. She comes to us from The Nature Conservancy’s Idaho Chapter, where she was the Director of Protection. There, she coordinated a statewide program to protect working lands and wildlife habitat through conservation easements, purchases, and cooperative projects with government agencies, non-profits, and community partners. She and her team protected 43,000 acres during her eight years in Idaho, and she was also a founder and executive committee member of the Idaho Coalition of Land Trusts. Sus has sixteen years of experience in partnering and negotiating with landowners, businesses, community leaders, elected officials, and agencies to implement and finance protection of priority conservation areas.

Before her time in Idaho, she spent fourteen years in the Central Coast of California, where she received a Bachelor’s degree in Biology and Environmental Studies from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and worked for Coastal Watershed Council and The Big Sur Land Trust. Her background is in conservation biology and ecology.

“The Eastern Sierra has been important to me and my family since I was a kid. My dad and uncle taught me to flyfish here,” Sus comments. “I’m overjoyed to join the team at ESLT and help make experiences in nature possible for future generations.”

“My dad and uncle taught me to flyfish here [in the Eastern Sierra],” Sus reflects. “I’m overjoyed to join the team at ESLT and help make experiences in nature possible for future generations.”

Sus grew up in Massachusetts, where she developed her love of natural history by catching frogs, spiders, leeches, and snakes, collecting animal skulls, and reading a lot of Gerald Durrell. Her dad founded Trak Ski Company, so her family often attended the Snowsports Industries America trade show in Las Vegas, venturing north to ski and visit her uncle in Mammoth Lakes. Her first backpacking trip in California was to Triple Divide Peak in the Ansel Adams Wilderness. She has been volunteering for the University of California Reserves since 1997, at Landels-Hill Big Creek Reserve in Big Sur, and she spent four years as a volunteer firefighter and EMT in Bonny Doon and Carmel Highlands. She enjoys hiking with Baetis, her Catahoula leopard dog, flyfishing, bicycling, birdwatching, and poring over her Jepson Manual as she learns the flora of the Eastern Sierra.

Shown here at Crowley Lake with her mother and father, Sus is proud

Sus developed a love of the region on fishing trips taken with her dad and uncle along the San Joaquin River and the streams of the Mono Basin. She is pictured here at Crowley Lake with her mother and father.