The clock strikes midnight. Glasses clink, fireworks light the sky, lovers lean in for a kiss – and a new year unfolds, with all its endless possibility. For me, like many, this is a time to start fresh and set my sights on new goals; an occasion to appreciate the distance I’ve come and to chart the path ahead.

As the Executive Director of Eastern Sierra Land Trust, I know in my heart that you – ESLT members and partners, volunteers and friends – are family. You are our ESLT Family: related not by blood, but by our shared love of this land. And with the arrival of the New Year, our ESLT Family has a little something extra to celebrate: 2016 marks the beginning of our 15th year of land conservation.

McAfee II SIWe’ve come a long way since 2001, and have so much to be proud of and thankful for when we look back at the remarkable progress we’ve made together. As a supporter of ESLT, you’ve helped safeguard over 10,000 acres of wildlife habitat, working ranchland, and beloved mountainscapes from the threat of poorly-planned development. You’ve preserved a critical migration corridor that allows wildlife to pass more safely as they travel between the valley and the high meadows each year. You’ve built havens for our buzzing pollinators to keep the Eastside in bloom for many years to come. You’ve supported small family farms and ranches that embody a way of life that has persisted since the Gold Rush days, and have helped find a balance that allows our protected working lands to continue to benefit our local economy AND provide a safe home for rare wildlife.  You’ve inspired young boys and girls to put binoculars to their eyes, get dirt under their fingernails, and discover the wonders of this magical land. Every one of these is a conservation victory, and all were made possible because of you.

ESLT's staff, from left: Sara Kokkelenberg, Kay Ogden, Mini Mantzouranis, Sus Danner, Catherine Tao (not pictured: Marguerite Merritt)

ESLT’s staff, from left: Sara Kokkelenberg, Kay Ogden, Mini Mantzouranis, Sus Danner, Catherine Tao (not pictured: Marguerite Merritt)

Looking ahead, 2016 will be a year to appreciate these successes – and hopefully celebrate a few new ones! We have several major conservation projects in motion, and are better positioned than ever before to take advantage of new land protection opportunities when the time is right. We’ll be hosting anniversary events to commemorate our accomplishments of years past (and those still to come), spearheading new community projects, and getting out on the land with every chance we get. And we hope you’ll be with us every step of the way.

Thank you for being a part of our ESLT Family, and for helping to protect the Eastern Sierra’s wild and working lands forever. We wish you and your loved ones a healthy and joyous 2016!

Happy Trails,

Kay Ogden

Executive Director, ESLT