Erik Gantenbein, Preserve Manager, Northern and Central California
Erik Gantenbein joined CNLM in 2012 and is the preserve manager for Preserves in Contra Costa, Solano, San Joaquin and Merced Counties. His responsibilities include management, biological resource monitoring and Conservation Easement compliance. These preserves provide protection for numerous State and Federally listed species, including California Red-legged Frog, California Tiger Salamander, San Joaquin Kit Fox and Vernal Pool Crustaceans and flora.
Erik’s multi-faceted background includes construction management, budget analysis and regulatory compliance and a strong knowledge of native flora and fauna as well as skills in managing native habitat. Erik has more than twenty years of experience working in habitat restoration including initial cost estimation, design review, contract management, and project implementation. He has participated on numerous habitat restoration projects including private, and governmental (city, county, state, and federal) projects. These projects involved diverse habitat types found in northern California including vernal pools, seasonal and perennial wetlands, oak woodlands, riparian woodlands and upland grasslands. He has a strong background in vegetation management and is a certified pesticide applicator. Erik has a lifelong appreciation for the outdoors and nature. He is a native Californian and grew up along the American River Parkway in Sacramento. He is an active volunteer with the American River Parkway Foundation and assists their efforts to educate the public and preserve the American River Parkway. He is also actively involved in the California Native Grassland Association (CNGA), a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation, conservation, and restoration of California’s diverse grassland communities. He served two years as CNGA president and has served multiple times on the Board of Directors, active with fundraising, board recruitment and management, and public outreach.
Erik earned a Bachelor of Science in Biology, with an emphasis in marine ecology from Humboldt State University.
Sarah Godfrey, Preserve Manager, San Diego County
Sarah Godfrey joined CNLM in December 2012 as assistant preserve manager in San Diego County and was promoted to preserve manager in 2014. Her responsibilities include managing CNLM’s La Costa Glen , Rancho La Costa, and Manchester preserves, which involves maintaining trails and public trail access (in collaboration with the parks and recreation departments of Encinitas and Carlsbad), developing and implementing habitat restoration projects, monitoring sensitive flora and fauna species, removing invasive non-native plants, and facilitating improvements in partnership with the San Diego Mountain Bike Association and the Boy Scouts of America . She is a key member of CNLM’s team conducting research on a number of imperiled species including San Diego thornmint, Coastal California gnatcatcher and Pacific pocket mouse.
Sarah’s background includes implementation of natural resource management projects for the Big Sur Land Trust, California State Parks, and the University of California Natural Reserve System. Her broad expertise in habitat restoration includes oak woodland and savannah, native grasslands, redwood forest, northern and southern maritime chaparral, coastal dune complex, mixed riparian woodlands, and coastal sage scrub. Sarah’s current interests include studying the functioning of wildlife corridors in urban fragments, monitoring the recovery of fire-impacted habitats, and balancing human recreation with the biological needs of threatened sensitive plants and animals.
Sarah earned her bachelor’s in environmental studies with an emphasis in conservation biology from the University of California at Santa Cruz and master’s degree in geographic information science and technology from the University of Southern California.
Christopher Hauser, Preserve Manager, Central Valley, California
Christopher Hauser joined CNLM in 2016 and manages three preserves in the southern Diablo Ranges encompassing approximately 40,000 acres. His primary responsibilities include implementing habitat restoration projects, monitoring populations of sensitive species, and working with conservation partners to benefit biodiversity on large-scale projects.
Christopher has been restoring grasslands, woodlands, and wetlands since 2001. In previous positions, he was responsible for implementing habitat restoration projects, supervising restoration field crews, monitoring and restoring rare plant populations, and organizing volunteer stewardship and citizen science groups. He has expertise in restoration techniques such as GIS mapping, seed harvest, plant propagation, vegetation surveys, prescribed burns, and weed management.
Christopher earned a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry from California Polytechnic State University – San Luis Obispo and master’s degrees in biochemistry and plant ecology from the University of Illinois – Urbana Champaign. Also, he holds a California Qualified Applicator’s License for pesticide applications.
Bobby Kamansky, Preserve Manager, Central California
Bobby Kamansky joined CNLM in 2018 and is the CNLM Preserve Manager for Cholame Ranch, Pixley Vernal Pools, and Kreyenhagen Ranch Preserves, with shared responsibility (with the Central California Regional Preserve Manager) for Semitropic and Lokern Preserves. His responsibilities include preserve management, biological resource monitoring, and conservation easement compliance (for Kreyenhagen). These preserves provide protection for numerous sensitive, rare, and State and Federally listed species.
Bobby’s background includes 20 years of biological and ecological field work among a broad array of habitats and ecosystems in California and Europe. He planned, designed, monitored, and implemented numerous ecological restoration projects in the Southern Sierra Nevada Mountains and Tulare Basin. These projects were set within landscape-scale, climate-adapted conservation plans and several habitat-focused plans, which Bobby co-authored. Bobby conducted biological studies, fire management and restoration activities in the Sierra Nevada and Tulare Basin for various agencies, including Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, US Forest Service, and the Natural Resources Conservation Service, among others. As an adjunct biology and ecology professor at College of Sequoias, aside from teaching duties over eleven years, Bobby led several ecological field studies and undergraduate research groups focused on abiotic-biotic interactions among rare and declining vernal pool invertebrates; oak woodland ecology, genetics, drought, fire, development impacts, ecological restoration; and pollinator and native plant ecological interactions on student-led restoration projects.
For over 10 years, Bobby coordinated a Sierra Nevada-based natural resource collaborative group, focusing on water management in the Southern Sierra. This group integrates the interests of over 30 agencies and provides support for collaboration, natural resources management, and human communities.
Bobby is active in several professional organizations including The Wildlife Society, Ecological Society of America, California Society for Ecological Restoration, and the California Native Grasslands Association. He earned a Bachelor of Science in Forestry from Västerby College, in Sweden; a Bachelor of Science in Biology, Ecology Emphasis, and Minor in Cartography and GIS Systems; and a Masters of Science in Biology, from California State University, Fresno.
Kim Klementowski, Regional Preserve Manager, Orange and Riverside Counties
Kim Klementowski joined CNLM in 2008 and is the Regional Preserve Manager for Orange and Riverside Counties. In addition to providing support for staff in Orange and Riverside Counties, her responsibilities include preparing long-term and annual plans for preserve management, conducting day-to-day management of the preserves, monitoring sensitive plant and animal populations, providing weed control, and conducting native habitat enhancement.
Kim has extensive experience in habitat restoration, weed control, sensitive species monitoring, native plant propagation, and GIS applications. She has a strong background in species-specific habitat restoration, including habitat management for Chinook salmon, Southwestern willow flycatcher, and San Clemente loggerhead shrike. She has worked in a variety of habitats and ecotypes including valley oak woodland, desert riparian, vernal pools, blue oak savannah/woodland, coastal dunes, California bunch grasslands, and coastal sage scrub. Prior to joining CNLM, Kim worked for the San Diego State University Research Foundation, leading the San Clemente Island Native Habitat Restoration program and worked to restore a variety of vegetation communities in a post-goat grazing era. In addition, Kim also worked for the Bureau of Land Management in Yuma, Arizona performing habitat restoration and terrestrial and aquatic weed mapping along the lower Colorado River. Kim holds a permit from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to monitor populations of the coastal California gnatcatcher a federally threatened species found a number of CNLM’s preserves.
Kim earned a bachelor’s in environmental geography with a certificate in Geographic Information Systems and a master’s in geography from California State University, Chico.
Michelle Labbé, Conservation Analyst
Michelle Labbé joined CNLM in 2013 as conservation analyst. Her responsibilities include/the collection, synthesis and analysis of conservation data that is critical for our on-going research and development of conservation practices on all our preserves.
Michelle has a background in conservation biology and spatial and statistical analysis. Prior to joining CNLM, she worked as a wildlife biologist for an environmental consulting company where she conducted ecological evaluations and biological assessments for various ecological restoration projects in the San Francisco Bay Area. During her graduate work she conducted research aimed at assessing and improving land management strategies for the preservation of upland plant and animal communities in the northeastern United States.
Michelle earned her bachelor’s in natural resource studies with a minor in wildlife biology and management as well as her master’s in wildlife ecology and conservation from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
Hailey Laskey, Preserve Manager, Western Riverside County
Hailey Laskey joined CNLM in August 2019 and is the Preserve Manager for the Santa Rosa Plateau Ecological Reserve and Plateau Conservation Lands in Western Riverside County. Hailey is responsible for managing the 62 sensitive species and habitats including western pond turtle, mountain lion, vernal pools, Engelmann oak woodlands, and native grasslands. The management techniques she utilizes include prescribed fire to promote native purple needlegrass dominance, native plant and animal species diversity and reduce non-native species thatch. Hailey also manages the Tenaja wildlife corridor that connects to the Cleveland National Forest and promotes large mammal movement throughout southern California.
Hailey has an extensive background in invasive species management, coastal sage scrub restoration, avian construction monitoring, and butterfly and rare plant conservation gained in part from her work with California State Parks and Endemic Environmental Services. She created community outreach programs and taught outdoor environmental education while working for Crystal Cove Conservancy. Hailey enjoys GIS mapping, and vegetation and bird monitoring. She has monitored and restored habitat for multiple federally endangered species including least Bell’s Vireo, California gnatcatcher, western pond turtle, California red-legged frog, Behren’s silverspot butterfly, western snowy plover, California least tern, and Coho salmon.
Hailey earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Public Health and Environmental Science and a Master of Science in Conservation and Restoration Science from the University of California at Irvine.
Cathy Little, Regional Preserve Manager, Northern California
Cathy Little joined CNLM in 2010 and provides management or decision support for all of CNLM’s preserves in northern and central California and directly manages a number of preserves including Alkali Grasslands, Keeney, and Dublin Ranch.
Cathy has a strong interdisciplinary background in botany, vegetation ecology, and restoration with more than a decade of training and field experience in numerous regions of California. She worked as a botanist for four years at an environmental consulting company where she focused on botanical resources and riparian issues. She gained skills in the design, organization, and planning of field-based studies coupled with regulatory compliance writing. During her graduate studies she focused on the relationships between riparian vegetation communities and river processes and was involved in several research studies related to riparian restoration on the Sacramento River and its tributaries. She continued to build on this foundation as a restoration/plant ecologist for an ecological consulting company for several years prior to joining CNLM where she wrote and implemented restoration and monitoring plans for projects. Cathy has experience in managing, restoring, monitoring, and conducting research within vernal pool, grassland, seasonal wetland, freshwater marsh, riparian, and oak woodland habitats. In addition to a diverse range of monitoring and project management experience, Cathy is a Certified Arborist (International Society of Arboriculture) and has a permit to survey for California vernal pool crustaceans.
Cathy earned a bachelor’s in plant biology from University of California Davis and a master’s in botany from California State University, Chico.
Korie C. Merrill, Preserve Manager, Orange County
Korie C. Merrill joined CNLM in September 2017, and manages CNLM’s preserves in Orange County.
Upon joining the staff of CNLM, Korie was already an experienced ecologist with approximately 10 years of management, monitoring, and stewardship experience. Her background includes working with endangered species, planning and implementing habitat restoration, native plant propagation, rare planting monitoring, and invasive species control. Korie has worked effectively on restoration projects in challenging environments. As a Peace Corps volunteer, she developed and implemented a two-year reforestation project in Togo. On San Clemente Island, she planned and implemented restoration projects including removal of exotic invasive plants and research on detection of the invasive Argentine ant.
Korie is passionate about conserving and managing rare habitats in southern California. Her primary focus is native habitat restoration and management through projects such as research on invasive ant ecology and management, native plant restoration, invasive plant management, and rare species monitoring.
Korie earned a Bachelor of Science degree in zoology from the University of Hawaii, Mānoa, and a Master of Science in entomology from the University of California, Riverside.
Brooke Prentice-Dekker, Preserve Manager, San Diego County
Brooke Prentice-Dekker joined CNLM in February of 2017. Currently, she is a Preserve Manager in San Diego County. CNLM preserves for which she provides management include Buena Vista Creek Ecological Preserve, Calavera Hills/Robertson Ranch, Manchester and Kelly Ranch. She is responsible for habitat restoration, non-native species removal, trail maintenance, and monitoring sensitive species. Her preserves host several federally and state listed species including San Diego thornmint, threadleaf brodiaea, California gnatcatcher, and least Bell’s vireo.
Brooke’s background includes restoration of conservation lands in southern California, including riparian areas, costal sage scrub, chaparral, grasslands, and wetlands. As part of a collaborative effort she developed a cost-benefit analysis for the removal of giant reed (Arundo) from the Santa Clara River, including modelling changes in water use, fire severity, and flooding. She has expertise in GIS mapping, data analysis, vegetation surveys, weed management, and habitat restoration. She worked at Conservation International creating a network flow analysis to determine priority areas for conservation in California based on species shifts due to climate change in decadal intervals. Currently she is interested in researching the plant-pollinator relationship of threadleaf brodiaea, for which little is currently known.
Brooke earned her Bachelor’s degree in environmental systems, with a focus in ecology, behavior, and evolution, from the University of California San Diego, and her Master’s in Environmental Science and Management, specializing in Conservation Planning and Coastal Marine Resources Management, from the University of California Santa Barbara.
Eric Olson, Preserve Manager, Sacramento Valley
Eric Olson joined CNLM in November 2011 and manages several of the CNLM’s Sacramento Valley preserves including Willey Wetlands and Prichard Lake His responsibilities include ensuring that these preserves are properly protected for the benefit of the threatened giant garter snake. In addition, Eric monitors 11 other preserves for conservation easement compliance.
Eric has a strong interdisciplinary background in wildlife biology, regulatory permitting, and GIS with more than a decade of training and field experience in the Sacramento Valley and San Francisco Bay Area. He has worked as a biologist with several consulting firms specializing in wildlife surveys with an emphasis in reptiles and amphibians. Eric has also obtained skills in land management, regulatory compliance writing including formal and informal consultations with the USFWS and Clean Water Act Section 401 and 404 permits, as well as field-based studies. During his graduate work he focused on studying and surveying a newly protected area of the Sutter Buttes for numerous herpetofauna through a comprehensive trapping program to determine which species were present and where they occurred. Eric has experience working with other wildlife species including Federal and State listed species including the giant garter snake, California tiger salamander, California red-legged frog, San Francisco garter snake, and Swainson’s hawk. He has experience monitoring within freshwater marsh, riparian and riverine systems, vernal pool, grassland, and coastal forest habitats. His background also includes working as a wildlife biologist for an ecological consulting company performing species surveys and biological monitoring as well as regulatory permitting experience by working at a Department of Defense facility in northern California.
Eric earned a bachelor’s in evolution and ecology from the University of California at Davis and a master’s in biological sciences from California State University, Chico.
Stephen Rink, Preserve Manager, San Diego County
Stephen Rink joined CNLM in 2012 as assistant preserve manager for San Diego County and was promoted in 2014 to preserve manager. His responsibilities include implementation of individual preserve work plans, preserve management, monitoring sensitive flora and fauna species, invasive and non-native species removal, and habitat restoration.
Stephen served for fifteen years as a consulting biologist for a San Diego-based environmental consulting firm. During this time, his responsibilities included biological assessments in upland and wetland habitats to identify the potential for adverse impacts to sensitive biological resources. As part of these assessments, Stephen surveyed rare and endangered species including the California gnatcatcher, quino checkerspot butterfly, and San Diego fairy shrimp. In addition to biological impact studies, he conducted upland and wetland habitat restoration and monitoring activities, marine fish community sampling, benthic invertebrate taxonomy, jurisdictional wetland delineations, and wetland habitat restoration.
Stephen received his bachelor’s in environmental biology from Humboldt State University, Arcata, California.
Ginny Short, Preserve Manager, Coachella Valley
Ginny Short joined CNLM in 2007 and manages CNLM’s Thousand Palms Oasis and Dos Palmas preserves. Her responsibilities include planning and instituting management and restoration projects, coordinating with local and regional landowners and officials, and managing a visitors’ center that hosts up to 30,000 people per year. In addition, she manages a large volunteer staff that provides visitors services for tourists visiting the area. She also conducts conservation easement compliance activities on several conservation easements held by CNLM in the Coachella Valley.
Ginny has more than fifteen years of experience as a wildlife biologist, with additional experience in monitoring, habitat restoration and GIS. Ginny has specialized expertise in wildlife and arid land ecology, and has used educational, professional, and volunteer opportunities to focus on the science and practice of bird conservation, specializing in nocturnal and diurnal birds of prey. She has many years of monitoring experience, including surveying for least Bell’s vireo, willow flycatcher, nesting birds, desert tortoise, Coachella Valley fringe-toed lizard, flat-tailed horned lizard and rare plants including the Coachella Valley milkvetch and Mecca aster.
She holds a master bander permit for burrowing owls and for managing MAPS/MAWS stations. She also has many years of banding experience with terns, raptors, and songbirds. Her extensive research on the western burrowing owl has informed monitoring methods and conservation plans for this species and has been presented in numerous conference presentations. Through her work with this species, Ginny has integrated research with conservation planning, and has engaged regulatory agencies, management agencies, and volunteers.
Since joining CNLM Ginny has focused on the ecology and biology of the Desert pupfish, and studied the natural history of one of its primary competitors, the red-swamp crayfish. She has also focused on restoration ecology, geology and the science of hydrology and issues of water in the western U.S.
Ginny earned a bachelor’s in biology from California State University, Long Beach, and completed her master’s in evolution, ecology and organismal biology from the University of California, Riverside.
Markus Spiegelberg, Regional Preserve Manager, San Diego County
Markus Spiegelberg joined CNLM in 1999 and provides management and staff supervision for all of CNLM’s (20) preserves in San Diego County. These preserves collectively cover an area of over 4,500 acres and include coastal sage scrub, chaparral, grasslands and riparian habitats, with many endangered and sensitive species.
Prior to joining CNLM, Markus worked for more than ten years in environmental monitoring, management, and research. He worked at Caltrans, conducting surveys and impact analysis, at San Diego State University teaching and conducting research on least Bell’s vireo, and at RECON Environmental as a biological consultant. During his tenure at CNLM Markus has played a major role in securing preserves in southern California, conducted more than 100 Property Analysis Record analyses (PARs), and contributed substantially to refining and improving CNLM’s due diligence process. As regional preserve manager, Markus has participated in all aspects of management, focusing primarily on setting goals for the management and monitoring of imperiled wildlife species including coastal California gnatcatcher, least Bell’s vireo, San Diego horned lizard, Orcutt’s hazardia, thread-leaved brodiaea, and San Diego thornmint.
Markus earned a bachelor’s in environmental science from the University of California Berkeley and a master’s in ecology from San Diego State University.
Ben Teton, Preserve Manager, Central California
Ben Teton joined CNLM in 2019 and manages the 26,400-acre Panoche Valley Preserve in San Benito and Fresno Counties. His responsibilities include the development and implementation of a comprehensive biological monitoring plan along with the full suite of stewardship and restoration activities necessary to promote the conservation values of this large and dynamic preserve.
Ben has been active in wilderness and wildlife conservation for over 10 years, in which time he has worked on projects that range from marine turtle conservation in Central America to California condor recovery in southern California. His primary interests are in the practical application of wildlife monitoring techniques to improve conservation management outcomes. Before joining CNLM, Ben worked as a wildlife biologist for the Tejon Ranch Conservancy in the Tehachapi Mountains of California, where he managed a host of wildlife-related research initiatives including long-term studies focused on the impacts of invasive wild pigs on the native ecology of Tejon. He has expertise in a variety of wildlife monitoring techniques including motion-sensing camera trapping, radio telemetry, and mark-recapture population analysis.
Ben earned a bachelor’s degree in environmental studies from the University of Oregon and a master’s degree in ecology, evolution, and marine biology from the University of California Santa Barbara.
Greg Warrick, Regional Preserve Manager, Central California
Greg Warrick joined CNLM in 2000 and manages preserves encompassing approximately 8,000 acres in Kern, Tulare, and Los Angeles counties. His primary responsibilities include designing and implementing management and restoration projects on the preserves, monitoring populations of sensitive species, and conducting ecological field studies.
Greg is a certified wildlife biologist (designated by The Wildlife Society) with more than twenty-five years of professional experience in California. He has authored and co-authored numerous scientific articles on a variety of wildlife species including kit foxes, bighorn sheep, leopard lizards, heteromyid rodents, and invertebrates. In previous positions, Greg has used population modeling and spatial analyses to evaluate the effects of oil field development, military activities, and farming on threatened and endangered species. He also has expertise in a variety of field techniques including aerial and ground radio-telemetry, live-trapping, scent-station and line-transect surveys, vegetation surveys, necropsies, and diet analyses.
Greg earned a bachelor’s in wildlife science from New Mexico State University and a master’s in wildlife and fisheries science from the University of Arizona.
Sanders Freed, Thurston County Program Manager, South Puget Sound, WA
Sanders joined South Puget Sound program in 2003, and was part of the transition team, joining CNLM in 2011. His responsibilities include managing and implementing restoration activities on numerous private, public and partner agency lands in Thurston County. The majority of his efforts focus on the restoration of degraded prairie/oak lands for the reintroduction or retention of imperiled species including the Mazama pocket gopher, Taylor’s checkerspot butterfly and golden paintbrush.
Sanders has more than a decade of restoration experience, including all aspects of prairie restoration, noxious weed control and eradication, prescribed burns, native plant seeding and planting, and removal of invasive plant species. In addition, Sander’s expertise includes reptiles, amphibians and bats. A number of his current projects involve creating artificial habitat structures for bats and developing habitats suitable for the Oregon spotted frog and western pond turtle.
Sanders received a bachelor’s in environmental science from Oregon State, and a master’s in environmental studies from The Evergreen State College.
Ruth Mares, Nursery Program Supervisor, South Puget Sound, WA
Ruth joined CNLM in 2018 and oversees our native seed nursery program in Washington. Ruth implements the production program, growing and harvesting around 100 native and sometimes rare or endangered species at any given time, from several ecoregions throughout the Pacific Northwest.
Ruth came to CNLM with a familiarity of native plants of the Pacific Northwest through landscaping and foraging in the region. Along with a passion for woodworking and carpentry, they enjoyed guiding small backpacking groups on the Olympic Peninsula sharing knowledge about the medicinal plants of the area. Ruth’s passion to protect and promote endangered species and habitats has powered their involvement with the nursery program at CNLM.
Ruth earned their Bachelor of Science degree in Ecology from The Evergreen State College in Olympia, WA.
Samantha Martin, North Sound Project Manager, North Puget Sound, WA
Sam joined CNLM in 2019 as our North Sound Project Manager. Her responsibilities include facilitating restoration efforts to enhance habitat for golden paintbrush on Whidbey Island, and working with land agencies in the San Juan Islands to provide guidance with such projects as ecological assessments, burn plans, and native prairie restoration design and implementation.
Sam brings to CNLM a diverse background including horticulture, rare plant species restoration, and forestry consulting in the San Juans. A resident of San Juan County since 2007, she has a deep understanding of both the human and plant communities that exist in the islands, and how they affect one another. Sam was Co-director of Rain Shadow Consulting from 2005-2017 and, during that time, worked on a six-year Garry oak and grassland restoration project on one of the outer islands. Her interests include native prairie and rocky bald habitat enhancement and the use of ecological forestry practices to actively manage forests for greater diversity and lower fire risk.
Sam earned her Bachelor of Science degree in the Conservation of Natural Resources at the University of Washington’s College of Forest Resources. She continued her studies there and completed a Master of Science degree in Forest Soils and Restoration Ecology in 2008.