PCTA names Megan Wargo as Land Protection Director

Megan Wargo became the PCTA’s first Land Protection Director on Jan. 26 and will oversee the expansion of a program dedicated to protecting the landscape and trail miles that are still held by private landowners.

Megan’s hiring, funded by a generous private donation to PCTA, is in line with PCTA’s long-term vision for land protection and will allow the association to accelerate the pace of land purchases from willing sellers.

Megan brings 12 years of experience leading teams and managing landscape-scale conservation projects. She has a background in resource and environmental economics, conservation planning, real estate and contract negotiations, grant writing and coalition building.

That experience will serve the Pacific Crest Trail well. There are 1,500 parcels that include or are adjacent to the trail that the PCTA, the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management have identified as crucial to preserving both the trail and the high-standard experience people have come to expect while using it.

With virtually no money to buy property, PCTA decided to get involved in land protection efforts back in 1997 because it was one of the largest issues that would shape the trail over time. Development pressure continues to increase, along with the cost of land.

Megan Wargo - Pacific Crest Trail Association

Megan Wargo – Pacific Crest Trail Association

“Over the years, we have made our intention very clear through our strategic plans, even though we had few resources,” said Liz Bergeron, PCTA executive director and CEO. “We have made very efficient and effective use of our time and money, which translates into progress in our land protection efforts.”

Another generous donation has given PCTA the funds to start targeting key parcels for purchase. Using money raised privately as well as federal grants through the Land and Water Conservation Fund, Megan will be working directly with landowners, private partners and federal land managers to identify priority properties and to complete transactions.

“This is a long-term project, maybe 20 or even 30 years,” Liz said. “This is an exciting time for the PCT.”

Megan has worked for the Pacific Forest Trust, the Trust for Public Land and the Piedmont Land Conservancy. She holds a Master of Environmental Management degree from Duke University and a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Studies, Economics & Politics from Claremont McKenna College.

Author: Mark Larabee

Mark Larabee is the PCTA's Advocacy Director. He is the former editor of the "PCT Communicator" magazine and co-author of "The Pacific Crest Trail: Exploring America's Wilderness Trail" published in 2016. Larabee is a journalist, part of a team who won the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for breaking news for The Oregonian newspaper. He hiked the PCT across Oregon for a 2005 series for the paper and has been with PCTA since 2010. He lives in Portland.