The executive director of Whatcom Land Trust since 2015, Rich Bowers, is retiring. Effective on February 1, 2020, conservation director Gabe Epperson will become the new executive director. The new leadership will continue building on more than 35 years of local land conservation.
“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,” board president, Chris Moench said in a press release. “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.”
Under Bower’s leadership, the Whatcom Land Trust served to conserve iconic properties such as Galbraith Mountain, California Creek, Skookum Creek and Governors Point.
Bower set in place organizational finances and systems, assembled a powerful staff team, lead oversight for the completion of both Conservation and Communication and Outreach strategic plans, including the move to a new Land Trust website.
He spearheaded the largest community-driven fundraising campaign to acquire Skookum Creek. He also led the 2017 re-accreditation process through the national Land Trust Accreditation Program.
“Over the last nine months the Board undertook a nation-wide search which attracted many excellent applicants, among them our own long-time conservation director Gabe Epperson,” Moench said in a press release. “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.”
Prior to joining the Whatcom Land Trust, Epperson was the planning director for Envision Utah, a non-profit with national recognition that works on regional conservation, land use and transportation planning.
Over the last four and a half years Epperson has led acquisition efforts of the Land Trust and protected more than 4,000-acres of Whatcom County parkland, wildlife habitat and farms.
Epperson earned his master’s degree in public administration from the University of Utah and his bachelor’s in Environmental Studies from Middlebury College in Vermont.