NJ Conservation Foundation Executive Director Michele Byers retires



Michele S. Byers, longtime executive director of the New Jersey Conservation Foundation, has announced that she will be retiring at the end of the year.

Byers, only the third executive director in the nonprofit’s 61-year history, has held the leadership position since 1999.

With Byers at the helm, the New Jersey Conservation Foundation has permanently preserved approximately 60,000 acres of open space and farmland, significantly expanded its system of public nature reserves, and helped strengthen community and conservation partnerships in the New Jersey.

“My nearly 40 years at New Jersey Conservation have been the most rewarding career imaginable,” Byers, a Bedminster resident, said in a statement. “I have always loved nature, animals and the outdoors and this job has been a dream come true. I think the timing of my departure is a good one as New Jersey Conservation has a strong staff and board of directors and many important conservation projects underway. ”

Michele Byers

She plans to continue working with the organization in other capacities to promote protection of land and natural resources in New Jersey.

The organization’s board of directors will soon begin the process of selecting its successor.

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“Michele is passionate about the environment and has made the New Jersey Conservation Foundation one of the nation’s premier land conservation organizations, with a team of top-notch conservation professionals,” said Rosina Dixon, President of the board of directors. A declaration. “We thank Michele for all the years she has dedicated to protecting New Jersey’s land, wildlife, air and water.”

“It’s hard to think of an environmental initiative in the past 30 years where Michele hasn’t been one of the leaders,” former Governor Thomas Kean, honorary trustee of the New Jersey Conservation Foundation, said in a statement. communicated.

“Michele has shown exemplary leadership in many key environmental protection efforts that have gone beyond New Jersey in their influence and impact,” said former Governor Christine Todd Whitman, another honorary administrator, in a press release. “She was one of a handful of leaders who worked with me and several New Jersey governors to protect critical development plots and ultimately ensure broad protections for the region.”

Under the direction of Byers, New Jersey Conservation has:

  • Creation of several new iconic reserves, including the 11,000-acre Franklin Parker Reservation in the Pine Barrens of Burlington County, the 300-acre Mount Rose Reservation in Mercer County, the 300-acre Hill and Dale Reserve in the County of Hunterdon, the 230-acre Maureen Ogden Preserve in Morris County, the 800-acre Rechnitz Pine Barrens in Burlington County, and the 1,200-acre Rainbow Hill Preserve at Sourland Mountain in Somerset and Hunterdon Counties.
  • Founded several conservation organizations including the Pinelands Preservation Alliance, New Jersey Highlands Coalition, Hunterdon Land Trust, Whitesbog Preservation Trust and the New Jersey League of Conservation Voters.
  • Helped secure passage of the NJ Highlands Water Quality and Planning Act, which protects the drinking water supply of 70 percent of New Jersey residents.
  • Founded the Rethink Energy NJ campaign to prevent construction of the proposed PennEast pipeline in Hunterdon and Mercer counties, damaging hundreds of acres of preserved land. The campaign advocates for a transition from fossil fuels to clean and renewable energies, and to reduce the impacts of climate change. Byers is President of Rethink Energy NJ.

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Byers has received numerous awards and accolades recognizing her accomplishments, including being named an Honorary Member of the Garden Club of America 2020 in the field of conservation. Others include the 2014 NJ Environmental Achievement Smart Plan award; the 2014 Woman of Achievement Award from the New Jersey State Foundation of Women’s Clubs; the 2016 Boy Scouts of America Tribute to Women Award; and the 2006 Garden Club of America Zone IV Conservation Commendation Award.


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