Jim Delaune, longtime Executive Director of the Orange County Land Trust, will be stepping down from his role after 14 years with the organization. Although his decision was met with some disappointment, the Land Trust’s Board of Directors expressed their gratitude, appreciation, and well wishes to their colleague and friend.
Under Delaune’s direction and leadership, the Land Trust has grown into a well-established, nationally-accredited organization, and perhaps most importantly, a beloved staple of the greater Orange County community.
“When I came to the Land Trust, we had a small staff whose office was situated in the basement of a church, but I always felt that we were primed for bigger and better things,” said Executive Director Jim Delaune. “I’m fortunate to have been a part of this transformation and upward trajectory.”
During his tenure, Delaune helped bring about the protection of over 4,000 acres of land, bringing its total number of protected acreages to 6,400. Some notable projects accomplished during his time include: the protection of 187 acres along the Heritage Trail known as the Birnberg Preserve, the creation of community gardens in the Cities of Newburgh, Middletown, and Port Jervis, and the protection of 1,500 acres of buffer lands bordering Huckleberry Ridge State Forest, Sterling Forest State Park, and Harriman State Park. Delaune also played an integral role in facilitating partnerships with the Chester Agricultural Center and the Newburgh Urban Farm and Food Initiative.
Board President Arlene Nolan said of the announcement: “The news is bittersweet to us. Jim helped build our organization into the conservation workhorse it is today, and while we’ll miss his leadership and devotion, we are excited to pass the baton and continue the advancement of land protection.”
In response to Delaune’s plans, the Board of Directors established a committee tasked with ensuring a smooth transition period.