As former long-standing President of the Back Country Land Trust, I am calling on you both to resign from their board. As you are both members of the Alpine Planning Group, you have competing interests on matters regarding Wright’s Field. Your support of a 26-acre active park on Wright’s Field ignores phase III of BCLT’s Wright’s Field Acquisition plan — the last portion to be acquired as part of a 25 year concerted effort by BCLT to acquire the entire Wright’s Field property as open space. Its extremely high biological significance has been documented and recognized by all relevant state and federal government agencies, including the county of San Diego, but you already knew that.
You also knew that it was this very significance of biological and other environmental resources that led to my husband Dave’s, mine and others’ successful recruitment of state and county funds for the acquisition of Phase I and II, with an added bonus of our acquisition of Findel Ranch. All of those acquisition efforts and successes happened before either of you came on board.
When government funding became inadequate for the purchase price of Phase III, George, you knew that several on the board wanted to put together a donor campaign which is common practice for land trusts in acquiring open space.
Dave and I had fundraisers come to a board meeting with a plan and an offer their services for free. We started the Legacy Society with the partnership of the San Diego Foundation with the goal of raising money to acquire the final phase of Wright’s Field. Yet, you had doubts, after all that, that we could raise enough money to buy the land. You, as then President and Executive Director, told the board you were making progress with the seller, but you refused to offer the board details for months on end. My husband, whose dying wish was to see Phase III saved after 25 years of dedicated service, quit the board out of frustration.
The fact that you are not only supporting the unnecessary destruction and diminishment of one of the highest quality native grasslands left in the state of California, but your advocacy for an active park on Wright’s Field has significantly alienated those who have supported BCLT over the years with their devotion, donations and grants to protect Wright’s Field.
In short, you are not only harming Wright ’s Field, but BCLT’s ability to protect land. You have chosen your political ambitions over your obligations to BCLT. I feel it is a violation of your nonprofit duty of obedience to BCLT’s mission. I, therefore, call on you both to resign.
The Back Country Land Trust is at a crossroads. They will need to decide whether their mission is simplly property management for access and recreation, or if their mission is acquisition and conservation of land as wildlife habitat, for preservation of rural values and landscapes, and for public access where access aligns with property conditions and management goals.
In the past two months the Land Trust has achieved the resignation and dismissal of two BCLT board members who spoke against the size and location of the proposed Alpine County Park, as private citizens. These actions, together with advocating for a steadily larger county park, both in social media and to the Alpine Community Planning Group, as identified BCLT representatives, presents the appearance that BCLT favors a more intense development of Alpine into a densely developed suburb similar to Poway, rather than a community working to retain the rural character many of us came here for. BCLT has been a beacon of conservation vision and it has been poised to grow its presence across the back country of the mountain area. It would be terrible to lose this promising future over a plan that fits a “cookie cutter” need without truly benefiting our community
Thank you Yolaine for your work to protect Wright’s Field so many years ago and again now as we see the rural and natural beauty of Alpine being threatened by intense development. As long-time supporters of the Back Country Land Trust, we are also very concerned by the Board’s support for such development. We’re also struck by the Board’s lack of willingness to engage in a dialogue with its concerned donors. We fully agree that something needs to change.
I am a new resident and homeowner. When I first saw Wright’s Field I was thrilled this gem was in my adopted community! Thank you to the Stouts and all the residents of Alpine who worked (and continue to work) to preserve this biologically and culturally significant area. Thank you Yolaine for this letter, reminding us that Wright’s Field and adjacent areas are critical to Alpine’s beauty and richness!
Re:Yolaine Stout’s Opinion Piece:
Yolaine and Dave are unsung heroes in Alpine. Perhaps many who have known of their charitable efforts,over the course of many years,have recognized them, but there are others who have no idea. I am grateful to them. When a person like Yolaine Stout speaks out, it should get our attention.As a member of our planning group I am obligated to say that I am only speaking for myself, and in no way should it be taken that I represent any other board member’s opinion or the board as an entity itself. That she is calling for Mr. Lyon and Mr. Barnett to resign from their positions on the Back Country Land Trust because of conflicts of interest should be taken very seriously. She has made an alarm call for good reason. Please take the time to speak up by writing letters to the Alpine Community Planning Group, Joel Anderson, our County Supervisor, and to the Back Country Land Trust. It’s easier to let others do it,I know. I recognize that many are bogged down with family and work commitments, as well as other important issues, especially after the pandemic has wreaked havoc on many of our lives. Still, even a modicum of participation is helpful in making a difference. Succumbing to apathy is just what those in charge want us to do.
As a former board member and a former APG member, I am very concerned about this proposed development. I personally spent many years walking the property with the Stouts, and San Diego wildlife biologist Michael Klein as we marveled at the Spadefoot toads, the rare San Diego Thornmint, and the Hermes Copper Butterfly, on the threatened candidate list for too many years. We moved from Alpine 11 years ago but the scope of this planned park is alarming, especially after our efforts to protect this acreage for so, so many years. I hope and plead that a resolution can be reached.