The 21st Lake County Land Trust annual dinner saw an enthusiastic attendance of 160 people at the beautiful Lodge at Blue Lakes on Saturday, Oct. 19. Land Trust supporters from all over the county came to the event to celebrate the Land Trust’s achievements, visit with friends, bid on silent auction items and participate in a new addition to the Land Trust’s fundraising efforts: a “paddle raise” which gave guests the opportunity to donate to the Land Trust’s core mission and brought in an astounding $70,000.

“This was one of our most successful events ever,” noted Lake County Land Trust president Val Nixon. “Not only did we host a record number of people, but we also were able to raise the funds we need to continue the work of the Land Trust.” During the event, Nixon announced the Trust’s most recent successful transaction, the near completion of the Wright property acquisition. The Wright property is a 240-acre lakefront property in the southern area of Lakeport. It boasts several hundred feet of lakefront abounding in tules, willows, and other vital lakefront habitat.

Honored at the event as the Lake County Land Trust’s “Supporters of the Year,” were Bernie and Lynne Butcher of Upper Lake, who were credited with kicking off the initial fundraising campaign for the Wright Property acquisition with a $40,000 matching gift that was a substantial portion of the Land Trust’s funding needed to apply for a grant from the Wildlife Conservation Board (WCB), the State agency that funds many of the Land Trust’s projects.

Keynote speaker was Dr. Tosha Comendant, Conservation Science Manager for Pepperwood Preserve. Dr. Comendant is a Napa Valley native who conducts and manages complex research projects for Pepperwood, which is based in Sonoma County. She spoke about the importance of wildlife connectivity in the region that includes Lake County and the importance of ensuring this connectivity in the face of climate change and conversion of wildlands to developed lands.

The event kicked off with a hosted social hour featuring Lake County wines, donated by Chacewater Winery, Gregory Graham, Laujor Estate Winery, Olof Cellars, R Vineyards, Six Sigma Ranch and Winery, Steele Wines, and Vigilance. Live music was provided gratis by Carlos and the gypsy Pushers. Sponsors for the event included: Community First Credit Union, Adventist Health, Clearlake; the Law Office of Dennis A. Fordham, Clearlake Dental, Katzoff and Riggs, LLP, Friends of Jessica Pyska, Foods Etc. Clearlake, The Koski, Kathy and Brad Barnwell, and Joyce and Russell Porterfield.

Student volunteers from Kelseyville High School spent the afternoon and evening helping with dinner service, a delicious meal prepared by The Lodge at Blue Lakes, which was a stunning venue for the Land Trust’s annual dinner with hosts, owners Maryann and Peter Schmid.

The band “Carlos and the Gypsy Pushers,” kept the crowd entertained as they bid on numerous locally donated silent auction items.

The Lake County Land Trust is a local, 501 c (3) organization that protects and stewards open space and valuable wildlife habitat in Lake County. The Trust owns and operates the Rodman Preserve near Upper Lake where it holds twice-monthly nature walks. The Land Trust also owns a 30-acre wetland in the Big Valley area and the small Rabbit Hill Park in Middletown. The Trust holds three Conservation Easements throughout the county and co-manages the Boggs Lake Preserve with The Nature Conservancy. Visit www.lakecountylandtrust.org for more information.

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