Noel Durant’s final day August 28
by Kendra Walker
With departing executive director Noel Durant moving to Chattanooga at the end of September to be closer to family, the Crested Butte Land Trust has found his replacement with longtime local Jake Jones.
“Jake was a local candidate and he has a ton of knowledge of the area and of the Crested Butte Land Trust,” said CBLT board president Erica Sollberger. “We had some really great, quality candidates from in and out of town. Ultimately, Jake was the one we thought was the best fit. We’re excited for the future and excited for his leadership.”
“He’s had a longtime connection with the land trust and has been a key volunteer on our board,” said Durant of his successor. “He’s a demonstrated leader and he’s got the skills and experience to grow the impacts of the land trust.”
“It’s really a dream come true,” said Jones. “This is a great opportunity and I’ve been wanting to get more involved and help the land trust more deeply. Personally I’ve always been very connected to the land that had been conserved and protected through the land trust. I love the environment here in Crested Butte as much as I did when I moved here so many years ago. I’m thrilled to be able to support it full-time in my career.”
Jones has served on the CBLT board for the past few years, as well as on a number of other non-profit boards in the community. “I feel incredibly fortunate to have been able to build a life and career here through various means,” said Jones, who earned his degree in biology at Western Colorado University, worked for the Colorado Outward Bound School, led the Wilderness Pursuits program at WCU, was the Parks, Recreation, Open Space and Trails director for the town of Crested Butte and most recently, was the managing director for Eleven Experience. “I’ve learned a ton going from the non-profit world to state education to local government here and to the private sector,” Jones said of his background that has set him up for his new role at the land trust.
Jones looks forward to sustaining revenue and building for the CBLT’s future, as well as future partnership opportunities with ranchers. “We’re about to embark on our 30th year, and it’s a good time to figure out where we want to go and set a vision for the next decade,” said Jones. The land trust and the community have been very successful in protecting scenic vistas and recreational opportunities, and so much has been facilitated in partnership with a lot of other stakeholders. I’m proud of that and want to continue with those efforts.”
He continued, “I’ve benefitted from the conservation of these lands personally and professionally. Our obligation is to care for these lands forever and that is something I’m going to take very seriously going into this role.”
Jones will begin on Monday, August 17, with a two-week overlap of transition before Durant’s final day on August 28. Durant will continue his passion for land conservation at the Trust for Public Lands in Chattanooga.
Durant reflects on his three and a half years as executive director with the Crested Butte Land Trust. “One of the things I’ve found most striking is how this community can rally together.” Among the successes during his time, the completion of the Long Lake land exchange was “one of the true highlights of my career and conservation to date,” he said. “That was our largest land acquisition to date and our largest capital campaign to date, and being able to complete that in less than two years was really inspiring and has given the land trust some amazing momentum moving forward.”
Durant concluded, “I look forward to cheering on the work of the Crested Butte Land Trust and this community. There’s so much good work to be done. The future is bright for the community and for open space.”