The executive director of the La Plata Open Space Conservancy has resigned and taken a new position with the city of Durango. But the organizational shift should not have an effect on the group’s newest effort to preserve 30 acres in Falls Creek owned by the Zink family, the board’s president said Monday.
Amy Schwarzbach became executive director of LPOSC about four years ago, succeeding the organization’s longtime leader Kathy Roser.
Schwarzbach has taken a job as Durango’s natural resource manager, a new position that will deal largely with Lake Nighthorse.
LPOSC board President Mark Stiles said Schwarzbach let the local nonprofit know in December that she intended to take a position with the city. Her last day as executive director was Jan. 6, he said.
Schwarzbach’s resignation caught the LPOSC board of directors a bit off guard, Stiles said, because she was about to lead a robust effort to raise money to preserve 30 acres in Falls Creek owned by the Zink family.
“It was a bit of a surprise,” Stiles said. “But she did a great job setting things up for us. When you’re a small organization, any staff changes are significant, but it’s been a fairly easy transition.”
Calls to Schwarzbach seeking comment were not returned.
Stiles said he will serve as interim executive director until a permanent replacement is found. Stiles worked with the Bureau of Land Management for 22 years and with the U.S. Forest Service for 11 years.
Stiles said LPOSC is taking applications until Feb. 15, but that may be extended depending on the number and the quality of applicants. Already, he said, the job posting has elicited numerous responses.
Since forming in 1992, LPOSC is credited with helping establish more than 20,000 acres of conservation easements in Southwest Colorado and, through various partnerships, another 10,000 acres.
Recently, the conservancy agreed to lead the effort to gather community support and help raise money to purchase the Zink property north of Durango, in an area known for being archaeologically rich and a popular recreational spot.
Despite the changes, Stiles said LPOSC will continue that effort.
“I don’t think there will be a major effect on that,” Stiles said. “Our intent at this moment is to move forward. But that could change as the board sees all the different pieces come together.”
Ed Zink has said over the past few months that he and his family are looking to move quickly on the property, which is adjacent to the Falls Creek Archaeological Area.
The Zinks have said they will either sell it for the purposes of conservation at a highly discounted price, or sell the property to the highest bidder to be developed.
Schwarzbach is now working for the city as its natural resource manager, a newly created position that handles many of the city’s natural resources, open space, natural surface trails, the Animas River and Lake Nighthorse, according to a job description.
The position is within the city’s Parks and Recreation Department.
City Manager Ron LeBlanc said he is unaware of the particulars of the position but said managing Lake Nighthorse, which is expected to open to the public this spring, is a major responsibility.
“That’s going to be a big part of it,” he said. “It’ll be great to have her on our team. I think she’ll fit right in with our organization.”