District Bids Farewell to General Manager Tom Salzer

Tom Salzer in front of the old District office site in Oregon City.

It is with heavy hearts, and sincere well-wishes, that we bid Clackamas Soil and Water Conservation District General Manager Tom Salzer a fond farewell. Salzer has been with the District since 2010 and his leaving will be deeply felt by all who have had the experience of working with him.

Staff and Partners Gather to Express Appreciation

District staff and partners from local, regional, and state agencies gathered together on Wednesday, December 11, 2019, to express their appreciation for Salzer’s hard work and generous support. Many took the opportunity to note his willingness to share his knowledge and time, reflecting his “a rising tide floats all boats” approach to conservation assistance whether within the District or amongst partners across the western region.

Salzer was also recognized for his bold and foresightful leadership. He encouraged his board of directors to consider decisions to implement many innovative plans, including the acquisition of a community forest, the building of a permanent home for the District, and providing access to interest-free septic system replacement and repair loan funds to all landowners in Clackamas County. Read more about Tom Salzer here.

Just a few photos from the evening:

New Beginnings

In January 2020, Salzer begins his new position as the executive director of the Washington Association of Conservation Districts.

The President of the Washington Association of Conservation Districts, Jeanette Dorner, shared the following in a letter to her associates and partners:

I believe Tom is the absolute right person for this role. He is truly committed to the success of conservation districts. He has the experience and record of success that he can draw from to help others. He is well respected by many. I have not found one person who has had something negative to say about him and instead I find folks across our state and in Oregon who are grateful to him for the help he has provided them.

We could not agree more and extend our congratulations and best wishes to Tom in his new endeavor.

Appreciation From the Board of Directors

In parting, several of the Clackamas SWCD board members took a moment to share their appreciation and reminisce about their time with Tom.

In my time at the District, I have seen a lot of change. I didn’t realize the complexity of the district or the amount of work the manager does. I respect Tom’s vision for the District’s future and his long-range planning abilities. He also has had a great ability to organize people within the organization. I hate to see him go but feel confident that he has set us up for success while we try to find his replacement.

I will miss Tom’s very deft leadership style that brought together staff and the board to develop policies to drive conservation programs in our county. While I will miss Tom and the benefits he has brought to our district, as the executive director of the Oregon Association of Conservation Districts, I will be continuing to work with Tom in his role as executive director of the Washington Association of Conservation Districts to bring together the interests of the two states in the conservation community. Having served on the board for 11 years and 9 years prior as an associate director, I have seen the significant changes that his leadership has brought to the district and the community.

Tom’s thorough preparation and informative briefing memos never failed to impress me and had a very positive effect on the efficiency of our board meetings. I especially admire his ability to be focused and prepared even though he was faced with challenges in his own personal life. Some of the amazing changes that Tom has guided the District through in the last 9 years including the buying and selling the property on Molalla Avenue in Oregon City, acquiring the Beavercreek Farm property, the Camp Adams conservation easement, construction of the Conservation Resource Center, and the purchasing the Eagle Creek Community Forest property. That’s quite a legacy!

Some of my best memories of Tom include those moments when hours and hours of work finally made the desired outcome. The obvious satisfaction Tom displayed was great. We are talking about buying the Beavercreek Farm property, finally agreeing to build the Conservation Resource Center, and the Eagle Creek Community Forest. I feel we are fortunate that Tom chose conservation as a career field because I feel he would have been successful as a manager in any path he chose. And that boils down to his people skills. He looks at decisions not just for their outcome but for how they affect the people involved. Leading and juggling the needs of multiple lives is indeed a skill. I don’t think Tom would have made this career move if he thought in any way it would harm the District. Like a parent saying “time to fly on your own” to a child. One thing that makes me smile is the thought of all the different styles Tom displayed concerning facial hair. There was the clean face, the mustache, the goatee, the full beard. Time-lapse photography would be a hoot! Although this transition will have some rough spots, it is great that Tom is leaving on such good terms. He is not going far away and I’m sure we will see him on numerous occasions in the future. I look forward to those times of revisiting old memories and sharing new adventures.

Fare thee well dear friend and mentor until our paths cross again!

If you know of good candidates for the General Manager position, please let them know that Clackamas SWCD is accepting applications!

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