About the Okanogan Land Trust
The OLT is a non-profit, non-governmental organization, collaborating with landowners and other community members, organizations and businesses, to protect what we love about life here: wide open spaces, clean air and water, natural landscapes, abundant wildlife, local food from our working farms and ranches, and resilient rural communities.
From the Cascade Mountains to the Kettle Crest, and from Canada to the Columbia River-- the OLT serves the Okanogan Basin, its tributary and neighboring valleys, the surrounding highlands, and the sylvan foothills of Ferry County.
The OLT is governed by a board of directors and operated by a handful of staff members, with considerable support from members and volunteers, as well as partners and sponsors.
In addition to organizing community events that heighten appreciation of life in the Okanogan, the OLT's Board of Directors, staff and volunteer committees provide landowners with an avenue to preserve what they love about their own property, on their own terms.
Learn more about What We Do >>
Founding Members of the OLT, 2001. (L-R) Linda & Dale Gavin, Lee Root, Dale Swedberg, Fernne Rosenblatt, Walter Henze, and Roger Rosenblatt.
In a nutshell, the then-called Okanogan Valley Land Council (OVLC) was founded in December of 2001, sprouting from the North Okanogan Sportsmen’s Council when members of the NOSC discovered a vehicle (i.e., land trusts) to carry out their mission: to restore/improve fish and wildlife habitat, promote economically sustainable practices in agriculture and forestry, and encourage the maintenance of private lands as natural areas.
Timeline of Key Events in OLT History
- Late 1970’s: A group of hunters and outdoors enthusiasts concerned about the loss and degradation of wildlife habitat forms the North Okanogan Sportsmen’s Council.
- Dale & Linda Gavin spearhead the 501(c)(3) non-profit status, and begin hosting bingo fundraisers with the intent of purchasing property where members could meet and share a shooting range. Over time, they raise $20,000.
- Late 1990’s: The council divides. Most members leave to form the Oroville Sportsmen’s Club. Remaining members of the NOSC include Dale & Linda Gavin, Lee Root, Dick & Margaret Blanchard, Dave Buckmiller, Rick Lind, and Dale Swedberg.
- Dale & Linda Gavin continue hosting bingo fundraisers. The group installs nesting platforms for loons in the Sinlahekin Wildlife Area, adopts a highway, and secures a grant for a GPS deer radio collar. But the members start to feel rudderless and their interest wanes…
- 1999: Dale Swedberg is appointed to represent environmental concerns as a member of the Citizens' Committee for Salmon Recovery. He meets Brad Martin, the then-executive director of the Methow Conservancy. The MC’s mission ignites a fresh spark in Dale, which he carries back to the NOSC.
- Brad brings Roger Rosenblatt to a NOSC meeting to explain what conservation easements are. (Roger and his wife, Fernne, formed a conservation easement for their 800 acres south of Okanogan.)
- Dale Gavin, Lee Root, and Dale Swedberg attend a Methow Conservancy meeting to learn more about board functions in a land trust. At last, members of the NOSC have found a sense of purpose and direction!
- December 2001: Members of NOSC decide to form a land trust, revise their by-laws, and found the Okanogan Valley Land Council. (The Methow Conservancy did not intend to expand their territory to the eastern half of the county.) Walter Henze and Roger & Fernne Rosenblatt are part the circle of founders. The bingo funds get us started!
- 2002: Greg James joins the OVLC, bringing passion for protecting open spaces for their aesthetic value. Greg makes annual donations that enables the OVLC to purchase 177 acres near Chesaw, and gives us the additional start-up funds needed to hire a part-time executive director.
- 2003: The Methow Conservancy refers Walt & Gayle Corbin to the OVLC. Our first conservation easement! 400+ acres in the Aeneas Valley.
- 2004: The OVLC establishes its first home office. Conservation easements are still a new concept in the area, so we begin organizing outreach activities, including education programs for children and adults—in the field and in the classroom.
- 2011: We rename the organization: Okanogan Land Trust.
- 2014: The OLT joins the "Working for Wildlife" initiative.
- 2015-2016: The board adopts a strategic plan and a conservation plan.