Marin Agricultural Land Trust announced the appointment of a new executive director on November 20, 2012, concluding a nationwide search to fill a role that has worked to preserve thousands of acres across the county for nearly 20 years. Wildlife biologist Jamison Watts, who now serves as the executive director for the Northern California Regional Land Trust (NCRLT) in Chico, will replace Bob Burner, who retires as executive director at the end of the year. “As a great, great grandson of John Muir’s sister, Margaret Muir Reid, conservation runs in Watts’s blood,” a press release stated. Mr. Watts grew up in Walnut Creek at a time when the town was still small and surrounded by rural areas, which he explored as a youngster. He earned a Bachelor’s degree in environmental biology with an emphasis on conservation biology from University of California, Davis, and later earned a Master’s in biological sciences. During his years at NCRLT’s helm, Mr. Watts increased the organization’s budget by nearly 600 percent and tripled the acreage protected—from 4,800 to 15,100. In his new position he said he plans to develop environmental projects likely to draw funding for more conservation easements, which are now supported largely by state and federal agencies and fundraising. “I really am a firm believer that more and more funding for conservation is going to come more from the private sector and less from the public sector,” he said, adding: “If you can help people that live on agriculture lands be more prosperous, they’re more likely to stay on the land… and more likely to take care of the land they sustain.” Mr. Watts will start the job in mid-January, before which he plans to move with his family to Petaluma. Marin Agricultural Land Trust now preserves nearly 45,000 acres on 69 farms and ranches.