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Who We Are

California Open Lands is a non-profit land trust organization based in Chico, CA. We are dedicated to the preservation and management of open space, the exchange of scientific information, public education, and responsible conservation of the natural resources of the Sacramento River Watershed.

We accept easements for the purpose of protecting wetlands, sensitive resources, and endangered species habitat and specialize in the stewardship of habitats in close proximity to population centers.


The mission of California Open Lands is to enhance and preserve Northern California wildlife habitat and waters on open lands in perpetuity.

Board of Directors

John Dahlmeier, Secretary / Treasurer

John has been in the insurance industry for over 30 years. He is currently the president of Dahlmeier Insurance Agency. Being a motivated person, John takes on many civic as well as industry positions. He is the past president of the Oroville Rotary Club, Butte-Glenn Community College Foundation, YMCA, and Ehmann Trust Foundation. He also serves on the Oroville Hospital Community Board as well as several non-profit boards. John also likes to play tennis, golf, and enjoys the outdoors.

Mike Donnelly

Mike is a Broker with more than fifteen years of Economic Development and Commercial Real Estate experience and specializes in helping companies with their real estate experiences so they prosper and grow, creating more jobs for the community.  He is a member of the Chico Rotary, and has served on the Board of Directors for the Work Training Center, the Butte County Economic Development Corporation, the Chico Economic Planning Corporation and the Oroville Economic Development Corporation.  He is also a Founder of Golden Valley Bank and a member of the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC).  Donnelly loves the great outdoors and open spaces, and looks forward to preserving natural landscapes for future generations.

Brian Firth, President

Brian is a graduate of the University of California, at Davis, Environmental Planning and Management program. He has had his own practice in Chico since 1991, including Land Image Landscape Archtiects, at the time the largest landscape architectural firm north of Sacramento. Brian has developed a reputation for handling large-scale projects that cover a wide range of expertise including parks, public works, streetscapes, downtown revitalizations, schools, mitigation, revegetation, commercial and retail, transportation and medical facilities. In 2007, his firm received the Community Vitality Award from the Chico Economic Planning Corporation. He is a member of the American Society of Landscape Architects.

Herb Votaw

With over 34 years of experience in the field of land surveying, Herb has extensive knowledge in land surveying principles and surveying law. He has prepared numerous subdivision maps, parcel maps, records of surveys, ALTA surveys and legal descriptions of various locations for both private and public clients throughout the North State area. Herb is currently a Vice President of Rolls, Anderson & Rolls in Chico, California; he is also a member of the California Land Surveyors’ Association.


Holly Nielsen, Executive Director

Holly holds a degree in Botany and in Environmental Aspects of Conservation from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She worked as a botanist in the high Sierras, the Northern Great Basin in Oregon and Western Idaho for 14 years. She spends as much time as possible outdoors with her family, passing on her love of wild open places.