Two new leaders for Klamath Lake Land Trust

Originally posted by the Herald and News on Friday, May 8, 2015By LEE JUILLERAT H&N Regional Editor

Megan Nichols — Klamath Lake Land Trust executive director (photo by H&N)

Megan Nichols — Klamath Lake Land Trust executive director (photo by H&N)

For Megan Nichols, living and working in Klamath Falls has allowed the Nebraskan to realize her passion for the mountains and the outdoors.

For Natosha Bunnell, it’s an opportunity to stay close to home.

Nichols, 32, and Bunnell, 28, are both new employees for the Klamath Lake Land Trust. Nichols, who has served as the organization’s interim executive director since early October, was recently appointed to the post by the Land Trust’s board of directors. She replaces Gordon Lemmel, who moved on to Billings, Mont.

“KLLT is excited to welcome Megan to our team,” said KLLT board member Mike Blain. “Megan’s passion for conservation, protection and restoration of Southern Oregon’s unique environment complements and strengthens KLLT’s goals. I am confident that Megan’s skill set and commitment to KLLT will serve KLLT well.”

Bringing passion

Nichols, who has lived in Klamath Falls since January 2014, is a graduate of the University of Nebraska, where she received a

Natosha Bunnell — Klamath Lake Land Trust conservation manager (photo by H&N)

Natosha Bunnell — Klamath Lake Land Trust conservation manager (photo by H&N)

bachelor’s degree in journalism. She moved to Klamath Falls after working four years as a copy editor for a daily newspaper in Arizona. She brings experience in grant writing and management, fundraising, communications and community outreach — and her passion for the Klamath Basin.

“I am absolutely thrilled to join the team at KLLT, and I am excited to continue with and expand on the great work my predecessors have accomplished,” Nichols said. “I fell in love with the Klamath Basin for the same reasons many of us have: Its natural beauty, its remoteness, its great potential for an outdoor enthusiast like myself and, of course, the world-class fly fishing.”

Nichols said a goal is to do more community outreach programs, such as the group’s hiking series, and to increase the organization’s profile.

“My primary focus is getting our name out to the community,” she said. “I am very much looking forward to working with the community in preserving those assets for all of us to enjoy.”

Nichols said KLLT aims to secure the region’s health in perpetuity for future generations.

“We’re working to ensure that the future of the Klamath Basin will include healthy rivers, forests and steppe, in concert with environmentally sustainable and economically viable stock grazing and forestry enterprises,” she said.

Conservation manager

Bunnell, who was born and raised in Klamath Falls, is the Land Trust’s new conservation manager.

She is also a student at Oregon Institute of Technology’s environmental science program, a mother of three and a field technician for the Klamath Basin Rangeland Trust.

“The Klamath Basin is so unique environmentally,” Bunnell said of opportunities to put her education to work. “Since I want to stay here, my job makes it a perfect place.”

A 2005 graduate from Mazama High School, she wants to remain in the Klamath Basin to stay close to her family and raise her children, Dahlia, 7, Lorilye, 4, and Logan, 1.

Levy removal, restoration

As conservation manager for KLLT, Bunnell’s emphasis is on watershed studies, including hydrology, ecology and river restoration. A major project involves plans by the Land Trust to remove the levies on 316 acres of land it owns along the Sprague River and following that with planting of various bushes and plants. The restoration project is scheduled this fall.

“You learn all these tools when you’re in school. I’ve got all the science based information, I can do the surveys,” she said of applying skills learned at Oregon Tech to her job. She also credits widespread cooperation between private and public land management agencies with helping to make projects possible. “The cooperation between agencies is really beneficial. People are usually willing to help each other.”

Bunnell credits Michael Hughes, one of her Oregon Tech professors, for his guidance.

“He’s been just amazing,” she said of Hughes. “Any time I question anything I can contact him. He’s been such a huge asset. I consider him my mentor.”