Christopher Lapp is the District Manager of the Clackamas Soil and Water Conservation District. He joined the District in December 2020, an important time of transition for the organization. The District had just completed the purchase of a 319-acre community forest. It had also recently finished building the new Conservation Resource Center in Beavercreek. The Board of Directors was looking for someone with land management experience and a strong conservation background. Lapp was the strongest candidate preference for both staff and board members.
US Fish and Wildlife Service Career
Lapp has a degree in environmental science with an emphasis in wildlife management from Evergreen State College in Washington. He joined the US Fish and Wildlife Service as a biological technician at Rice Lake National Wildlife Refuge in Minnesota in 1993. He remained with US Fish and Wildlife for over 25 years, working his way up through the agency.
Lapp’s experience with US Fish and Wildlife also includes:
- Refuge Operations Specialist at Browns Park National Wildlife Refuge in Colorado
- Acting Project Leader at Deer Flat National Wildlife Refuge in Idaho
- Deputy Project Leader at Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge in Sherwood, OR
- Project Leader at Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge Complex in Ridgefield, WA
An Experienced Leader Ready for New Challenges
During his ten years at the Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge, Lapp developed an impressive skill set. He acquired land for the refuge and sought out multiple funding streams to support the work there. He also developed strong community partnerships and as the refuge projects grew, hired eight new staff members. During this time, he oversaw the construction of a visitor center, many trails, and environmental education study sites.
Lapp built on his success at the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge where he was the manager for eight years. He brought funding and support to begin building public use structures including pedestrian and vehicle bridges, a community nature center wildlife center and an administrative facility. “I was able to replicate what we did in Tualatin with a lot of community engagement,” says Lapp. “The significance and amount of partnership involved excited me and instilled in me a desire to do more of that kind of work.”
Partnership – “It’s What Gets Things Done”
“I had been with the refuge system for a very long time and it was very rewarding,” notes Lapp. “But when I was able to experience what could be accomplished on a local level through local partnerships, I realized that this is where I wanted to focus my passion.”
Lapp found that the work being done at the Clackamas SWCD aligned with his goals. “The more I researched the District, its programs, and its partnerships, the more I realized I wanted to work here,” he shared.
He is looking forward to building on existing partnerships and developing new programs together with District staff. He is excited about using the new Conservation Resource Center and exploring the many opportunities it can provide to the community.
The Man Behind the District Manager Position
Lapp was born and raised in North Bay, Ontario, Canada. His youth was filled with snowshoeing, skiing, ice fishing and, yes, hockey. He took up bird watching in college. “I love to hunt, camp, hike – anything that gets me outside.”
When he’s not out in nature, Lapp shares that he’s a blossoming competition barbecue enthusiast. He has won a couple of contests – a chili cook-off and a minor smoking competition. And he is still playing hockey in an adult league in Sherwood.
Lapp has been busy in his short tenure with the District. He has been instrumental in supporting equity training for both staff and the board of directors. He has also initiated a strategic planning process which will involve the board, staff, and valued partners within the District. This plan will guide the District in the coming years as demands for service grow. It will also provide guidance on how the District will use the 15-acre farm property at the Conversation Resource Center and the Eagle Creek Community Forest.
“Getting to know the staff and the Board of Directors during Covid has been challenging,” says Lapp, “But we have an excellent team who are all very dedicated to their work. We have strong partnerships in the community, and I’m excited to see what the next few years will bring.”