WCA’s Jim Elias has worked in land conservation for nearly 20 years. He has started and led land trusts and conservation programs in Montana, California and Nevada, serving as the Executive Director of the Gallatin Valley Land Trust, Director of the Sierra Business Council’s Working Landscapes Initiative, American Land Conservancy’s Chief Operating Officer and Great Basin Program Director. Jim has consulted to large organizations, including the Trust for Public Land; small start-ups like Ranch Open Space of Nevada and the Gallatin County Open Lands Board (MT); and state and federal resource agencies.
Jim has completed more than 30 conservation transactions, ranging from 1/4–mile trail easements, to municipal parkland purchases, to over 20,000 acres of conservation easements. Most easement projects have been on working farms and ranches, requiring that agreements meet both ecological and agricultural objectives. Some projects have been financed through state, federal or private grants; others have produced income or estate tax benefits.
Jim takes as much pride in the educational part of his work as in his transactional accomplishments. He has helped counties, communities, and private nonprofits develop conservation programs and build their organizational capacities. Successful organizations are built on strong boards of directors, and Jim has worked closely with young organizations to grow and focus the efforts of their boards. He has spoken to numerous audiences about land conservation techniques and the benefits of conservation generally.
Jim works with a team of Associates who are highly trained in the areas of wildlife biology, botany, range and forest management, Geographic Information Systems, and other resource specialties. He also works closely with attorneys, accountants, realtors, public agencies and private nonprofit organizations.
Jim’s practical education began as a kid exploring and climbing in California’s Sierra Nevada Range. Jim holds a BA in Environmental Studies from the University of California, Santa Cruz and an MA in Urban and Regional Planning from the University of Oregon.
Western Conservation Associates is dedicated to the conservation of land and water.