Neil Robinson and Tim Kiser honored by Bear Yuba Land Trust |

Neil Robinson and Tim Kiser honored by Bear Yuba Land Trust

Submitted to The Union


What: Bear Yuba Land Trust’s Open Spaces & Wild Places Gala and Awards

When: 5 to 9 p.m. Sept. 21,

Where: Miners Foundry Cultural Center, 325 Spring St., Nevada City

Tickets: $100/Members, $125/Not-Yet-Members, includes farm-to-fork dinner, hors d’oeuvres and special gift

Info: Call 530-272-5994, email or sign up at

The Bear Yuba Land Trust (BYLT) is proud to announce long-time Nevada County resident, rancher and businessman Neil Robinson and Grass Valley City Manager Tim Kiser as the winners of the 2019 BYLT Conservation Awards.

Robinson is honored with the William Nickerl Award for Conservation Leadership for his commitment to conservation and his dedication to enriching the community’s connection to the land. Kiser is recognized for his advocacy of local parks, preserves, recreation and outdoor education with the John F. Skinner Sierra Outdoors Recreation Award.

Robinson and Kiser will receive their awards at BYLT’s annual fundraiser, Open Spaces & Wild Places Gala and Conservation Awards, on Sept. 21 at the Miners Foundry Cultural Center, 325 Spring St., Nevada City. The rustic family style event features a farm-to-fork dinner prepared by Emily’s Catering and made from the finest ingredients from regional farms and ranches, as well live music and a silent and live auction of one-of-a-kind items and experiences.

“We are very honored to recognize the tireless efforts of these gentlemen,” said Erika Seward, co-executive director of BYLT. “They not only have demonstrated a long time commitment to land conservation and outdoor recreation, but they have shown true leadership in the face of challenges and have inspired others in the community along the way.”


Robinson is a Nevada County native whose great-grandfather, Thomas Jefferson Robinson, came to Penn Valley from Ohio in 1874. The 3,000 acres under the family’s ownership in Penn Valley, called Robinson Ranch, is one of 12 original ranches in Nevada County. Neil and his brother Lowell Robinson took over the family business, Robinson Enterprises, which included ranching and harvesting timber, along with several other projects. The Robinson family was also instrumental in helping to start the Nevada Irrigation District, which provides water for agricultural operations. BYLT is working with Robinson and his family to protect 1,600 acres of the Robinson Ranch with an agricultural conservation easement which will eliminate the ability of any future subdivision and development of this land, and will ensure it remains in productive agricultural use. After this easement is completed late this year, Robinson (and family) will have protected the entire 3,000 acres of the ranch, making this the largest private land holding under conservation easement in Nevada County.

In September 2017, Kiser was promoted to city manager of Grass Valley. Before that time he had worked as the city engineer for Grass Valley for over a decade. Kiser is a Napa County native who graduated from Sacramento State with a degree in civil engineering. He served as a senior engineer for Placer County before moving to Grass Valley in 2005. Under Kiser’s leadership, Grass Valley has revitalized the downtown region and nearly completed construction of the Wolf Creek Trail between Glenn Jones Park/Northstar Mining Museum and the shopping areas around West McKnight Way. In addition, Grass Valley has agreed to provide $30,000 of match funding for the revitalization of BYLT’s first trail project, the Litton Trail. Kiser provides strong leadership with an emphasis on bringing additional state dollars to Grass Valley to improve non-motorized transportation routes, local parks, and existing roads and sidewalks. All of this greatly improves the quality of life in Nevada County

Robinson and Kiser were selected from dozens of nominations. New this year, the public was invited to submit their nominations for local conservation heroes. From that pool of candidates, a committee — comprised of members of the community and the BYLT Board of Directors — made these selections.

“We received an outpouring of community input, ” said Robin Milam, a member of BYLT’s Board of Directors and chair of this year’s selection committee. “It is truly inspiring to learn about the many people committed to preserving local lands, wildlife, water and trails and their efforts to improve our way of life.”

The awards

BYLT’s Conservation Awards, established in 2008, are named for two people: William “Bill” Nickerl and John Skinner.

Nickerl devoted his life to land conservation in the California foothills. During his years with the Bureau of Land Management as the acquisitions specialist for the state of California, Nickerl worked closely with The Nature Conservancy, Trust for Public Land, and several land trusts. He was instrumental in saving habitat for the California condor and was on the Board of Directors for Rails-to-Trails Conservancy. He also fostered the creation of the first BYLT (formerly Nevada County Land Trust) conservation easement — the Round Mountain Wildlife Preserve, a 160-acre parcel of land just outside Nevada City.

Past recipients include Izzy Martin, CEO of the Sierra Fund; Joanne Hild, executive director of Sierra Streams Institute; biologist and ornithologist Ted Beedy; author and educator Alicia Funk; and Nevada County Grown’s Roger Ingram.

Skinner, a retired forest supervisor of the Tahoe National Forest, loved the outdoors and led many treks for BYLT. Despite a heart condition, Skinner hiked as many local trails as he could. He was also the author of the reference Sierra Outdoors Recreation, which featured over 200 trails, 100 lakes and 125 camping and picnic areas stretching 1 million miles from the Lakes Basin to Auburn State Recreation Area. Rick Berry of Fox Walkers and 4 Elements Earth Education,

Ron Mathis of the North Star Historic Conservancy; writer and wildflower expert Julie Carville; and geologist and paleontologist David Lawler are among those who have received the John F. Skinner Sierra Outdoors Recreation Award in recent years.

“These awards help connect us as a community to a long legacy of passionate outdoor enthusiasts who have made incredible contributions to improving the health and resilience of the Bear and Yuba River watersheds,” Seward said. “The annual gala is the perfect setting to celebrate and honor the great work of this year’s recipients and others leading the way.”

All net proceeds of the gala will support the Bear Yuba Land Trust, an accredited land trust and non-profit based in Grass Valley with a mission to protect and defend the working and natural lands of the Bear and Yuba River watersheds and empower healthy, resilient communities through nature access and education.

Since 1990, BYLT has been a conservation leader in the Sierra Nevada region, saving more than 15,000 acres of foothill forests, oak woodlands, meadows, riparian habitat, farms and ranches. This includes over 4,000 acres of critical open space protected for currently threatened, endangered or otherwise listed as a species of special concern, 6,000 acres of agricultural lands and over 4,000 acres of headwaters lands. BYLT has also built and maintains over 45 miles of trails, including the Litton Trail, that provide access to nature for residents and visitors alike.

Visit to reserve your seat or table for the Sept. 21 fundraiser.

Source: Bear Yuba Land Trust

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