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Boggs Lake Lake County Land Trust

Board & Staff

Val Nixon, President of Lake County Land Trust

Val Nixon



Val Nixon, a retired California Park Ranger has lived in Lake County since 1985. She was a well-known figure at the Clear Lake State Park where she served as a Park Ranger for 22 years. ​She is trained to protect, preserve and interpret lands of significant natural and cultural value.

“I feel strongly that the best way to protect the environment is to involve the local community proactively in finding methods to act locally to preserve habitat so that we will all benefit intrinsically and also economically,” she notes. Val still lives in Kelseyville where she raised her family with her husband Tom Nixon.

Merry Jo Velasquez

Vice President


The Lake County Land Trust (LCLT) is pleased to welcome Merry Jo Velasquez as the newest member of our board of directors. Merry Jo has been interested in environmental issues since childhood and originally hails from upstate New York. 

She and her husband, David, joined the Land Trust as members shortly after moving to Lake County in 2015. After coming to events and getting to know other board members, she became a member of the Land Trust’s “Lands Committee,” and helped to organize and present the recent workshops to update the LCLT’s Land Conservation Priority Plan. Merry Jo is also a director for the Lake County Resource Conservation District (RCD), a member of the Middle Creek Marsh Restoration Coalition, a member of Lake County Master Gardeners and is active with the Lake County Symphony Assoc. 

Merry Jo Velasquez, Vice President of Lake County Land Trust

​Merry Jo brings an astounding level of expertise to the Land Trust. She graduated from Skidmore College in upstate New York with a combined Biology and Chemistry degree.  Her undergraduate thesis was “Co-Evolution of Insect Pollinators and Flowering Plants”.  While working full time as a technician at the University of Rochester, she obtained a Master of Science degree from the University in Environmental Studies. In one of her classes, she met and then married her husband of 40 years, David Velasquez, who was in a Ph.D. program at the University.  After they both completed their degrees, the couple moved to Saint Louis for David to take a job and Merry Jo enrolled in a Ph.D. program at Washington University.

After being awarded a Ph.D. in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry, Merry Jo and David relocated to Minnesota where David took a position at 3M while Merry Jo continued her training at the Mayo Clinic as a postdoctoral fellow in the area of Bone Cell Biology.  After completing her training, she accepted a position at the University of Minnesota as an Assistant, then Associate Professor of Biology.  Seven years later she relocated to the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine as a Professor of Medicine.  Since 2003, she has been the Director of the Bone Cell Biology Laboratory at the Mayo Clinic... only now Merry Jo gets to telecommute from her Lakeport home! ​

Erica Lundquist, Secretary of Lake County Land Trust

Erica Lundquist



Our most recent board addition, Erica Lundquist was elected to the Lake County Land Trust Board of Directors in March 2017.  Erica is a long-time resident of Lake County with a wealth of experience to help the Land Trust grow.  She has served on the Rodman Working Group helping manage our flagship property for over a year.

Erica brings to the Board a combination of a scientific orientation, great appreciation for nature and farming,
​and a desire to find practical solutions and build connections in the community.   ​

Through her career as a scientist and natural resource conservationist, she has a thorough understanding of agricultural issues and natural resource management.  She is an experienced educator from teaching community college classes and presenting at agricultural workshops.  Having co-authored the Clear Lake Integrated Watershed Management Plan, she has a good understanding of resource, regulatory, and public agency management issues in the watershed.  She has strong connections to the Lake County agricultural community as a walnut farmer and from working as the Lake County Winegrape Commission Viticulturist, and an irrigation management consultant.  Erica currently works for the Natural Resources Conservation Service in Lake and Mendocino Counties.​

John Stierna



John Stierna has over 50 years of experience in natural resources and agriculture as an economist and policy analyst in both the public and private sectors. He has earned BS and MS degrees in agricultural economics from Michigan State University and has provided significant leadership for economic analysis, policy formulation and legislative analysis during a career with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service in Washington, DC.

During his professional career at USDA John contributed to the conservation title of the periodic farm bills for the reauthorization and revision of natural resource conservation programs and their implementation at USDA.

John Stierna, Treasurer of Lake County Land Trust

Subsequently he served as a consultant in natural resources policy and programs for American Farmland Trust developing and advocating legislative proposals on Capitol Hill. He has also served 16 years as a trustee for Finlandia University, including over five years as Chair of the Board. John has seen a diverse array of natural resource issues, having visited 49 states and 17 other countries. He has lived in Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri and Virginia. He now lives in Hidden Valley Lake, California and is married to Ruth Stierna. They have two adult children (living in New Zealand and San Francisco respectively) and four grandchildren.

Board Members

Catherine Koehler, Board Member of Lake County Land Trust

Catherine Koehler

Cathy originally comes from Canada, where she grew up and went to school in Calgary, Alberta.  After finishing her B.S. in Zoology and M.S. in Behavioral Ecology at the University of Calgary, she worked on a variety of wildlife management jobs in California and Arizona.  Because of habitat quality issues underlying many wildlife management projects, plant ecology and conservation became an important element in her work, and today most of her focus in researching or enjoying natural systems centers on plants, including the striking relationships between geology, botany, and plant ecology that are so prominent in California.  She brings her skills and interests to the position of Resident Director of the University of California’s Donald and Sylvia McLaughlin Natural Reserve where she has worked since Sept 2002.

Her love of science and natural history drives Cathy to also work towards fostering an appreciation and understanding of science and nature in the general public and school children.  

She served as community outreach manager at Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden, a botanic garden in southern California dedicated to California native plants, and has developed outreach programs at the McLaughlin Reserve.  She also worked with a team of educators from Lake County and Sonoma State University to provide science curriculum workshops for grade 4-6 teachers in Lake County.  Cathy also understands the need to work across fence-lines and political boundaries when addressing land stewardship or conservation issues, and works with regional agencies, conservation groups, and private individuals to address issues of ecosystem management and preservation at a landscape scale.  She served as the Executive Director for the Lake County Land Trust for 6 years before retiring from that position in 2016 and continuing to work with the Lake County Land Trust as a Board Director.​

Roberta Lyons​

A native of Washington State, Roberta grew up in Jago Bay on Clear Lake. Her family moved to the area in 1955 when they purchased the Clear Lake Observer-American which they published for over 30 years. Roberta continued in the newspaper business, including helping to run another family paper in Cloverdale, the Cloverdale Reveille, until the family sold that paper in 2013.

Roberta attended Lower Lake schools throughout elementary and secondary school. She attended Santa Rosa Junior College, Yuba Community College, and received a BA degree in liberal studies from Sonoma State University. She lives at the family home in Jago Bay with her husband, Harry Lyons, Professor Emeritus at Yuba College. Their daughter Kate graduated with a Ph.D. in Linguistics from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Roberta Lyons, Board Member of Lake County Land Trust

Growing up on the shores of Clear Lake, Roberta developed a deep appreciation for the natural beauty of the lake and surrounding terrain of Lake County. In her work at the Clear Lake Observer-American, she reported on such issues as diminishing wetlands around Clear Lake, the impact of geothermal development on Cobb Mountain watersheds, and various city and county issues. The Clear Lake Observer-American was supportive of the acquisition of Anderson Marsh State Historic Park. Local activist, archeologist John Parker, used articles published in the Clear Lake Observer-American to prove the case for the acquisition at the state level. Roberta is President of the Anderson Marsh Interpretive Association (AMIA) the cooperating association for the State Park.

Beginning in the late 1980s Roberta became active with the Redbud Audubon Society, serving as president of that organization for five years. She remains active with the Audubon Society as President, Conservation Chair and Newsletter Editor. Also interested in historic preservation, Roberta was a founding member of the Lower Lake Historical School Preservation Committee. This committee was responsible for the preservation and restoration of the historical Lower Lake brick school that now serves as the south county museum.

After seeing the difficulty in protecting sensitive habitats strictly through zoning and planning regulations, it had become clear that a land trust, an organization that would aid in the permanent protection of sensitive Lake County lands, was needed. In 1993, Roberta and a small group of friends founded the Lake County Land Trust. She served as the charter president of the trust from 1993-1999 and remains active on the board as newsletter editor, membership committee chair, lands committee member, and publicist.

Roberta and her family enjoy water activities on Clear Lake, including sailing, waterskiing, kayaking and swimming. Other favorite activities are bird watching, walking, photography and music. Lake County is Roberta and her family's home and they hope that it stays a beautiful and inviting place for humans and wildlife.​

Dr. Eric C. Woychik, Board Member of Lake County Land Trust

Dr. Eric C. Woychik

Eric Woychik, an at-large board member, has worked on advancement of clean energy policy across five continents, since 1977, with a focus on distributed energy resources (solar, wind, energy efficiency, demand management, and electric vehicles), largely at the customer level.  This includes work in over 45 countries. He has worked to develop electricity markets and policy initiatives, including working with environmental voices, consumer groups, energy companies, and governments.  He has written over 200 reports, many publications, and made presentations at numerous policy venues.  Finally, Eric has been an expert witness in over 50 administrative and civil proceedings. A resident of Lakeport, Eric and his wife Debra enjoy living on Clear Lake and appreciate the birds and other wildlife they can view from their home and on Land Trust properties. 


Meg Harper

Meg Harper, Administrative Coordinator of Lake County Land Trust

Administrative Coordinator


Margaret Harper, or Meg, is the Lake County Land Trust’s  Administrative Coordinator. Meg has lived in Lake County for over 30 years and still recalls the day she “drove over the hill,” and saw Clear Lake. “I’ll always remember that day,” Meg states. “I was overwhelmed with the beauty of this place and knew it was where I wanted to be.” Before making a career change and moving to Lake County, Meg graduated from California State University Sacramento with a Bachelor’s degree in human development. She worked her way to a general manager position with an advertising and publication company and has an extensive background in marketing, art and management. Seeking a career where she could contribute more to the greater good she jumped from an administrative career to teaching—receiving her teaching credential from Chico State in 1989. She worked here in Lake County as a teacher at Lakeport Elementary until her retirement in 2019. Meg met her former husband Ken here and they share a son, Nathan, who is a Registered Nurse. The Land Trust first became acquainted with Meg when after her retirement she started volunteering at the Upper Lake office at the Rodman Preserve. From that time on it became clear that she had a deep affinity for the Lake County Land Trust and her caring and skills are genuinely welcomed by the trust. 

Nicola Selph

Finance Director and Information Technology (IT) expert


Nicola Selph is the Lake County Land Trust Finance Director and Information Technology (IT) expert. Nicola has lived in Lake County for about 10 years, moving here from Modesto where she soon volunteered for the Redbud Audubon Society, becoming a board member and treasurer.Nicola grew up in the Bay Area and received her undergraduate degree in biochemistry from UC Berkeley. She went on to get her PhD in biochemistry from Michigan State University. Despite her academ- ic success, Nicola went into accounting, working for corporations in both San Francisco and Oakland, including the Oakland Tribune. She transitioned from accounting to IT and worked in Modesto for E & J Gallo before retiring and moving to Lake County. While in the Bay Area, Nicola was a board member and treasurer for Golden Gate Audubon, one of the largest Audubon societies in California. Nicola enjoys kayaking, birdwatching, jewelry making and other hobbies.  Nicola has been an ardent supporter of the Land Trust and is pleased to be part of the team to help move the Lake County Land Trust forward during this time of growth. 


Nicola Selph, Finance Director and IT Expert of Lake County Land Trust
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