BURLINGTON (AP) -- The head of the Nature Conservancy’s Vermont chapter is stepping down after 34 years.
Bob Klein, 65, said Friday that he will retire in April.
The Vermont chapter’s deputy director, Emily Boedecker, will become acting director.
Klein, who will stay on for a year as a part-time adviser, has been director since the chapter first opened an office in Vermont in 1979.
Since then, the Nature Conservancy has purchased or helped conserve nearly 100,000 acres of land around Vermont.
"We’ve acquired a lot of land, so I’ll miss the excitement of being in the middle of that swirl, but it is a 24-7 kind of job," said Klein, of Middlesex. "It will be awfully nice to have a little free time for visiting some of the places we have conserved."
The Nature Conservancy’s focus is "to preserve the diversity of life on earth," Klein said.
Darby Bradley, former president of the Vermont Land Trust, praised Klein for his persistence in piecing together land deals to protect fragile ecosystems, which can take years to complete, as landowners become ready to sell.
"You have to have real fortitude to keep after it. Bob has always taken that approach -- low-key, persistent -- and has accomplished amazing things by sticking to it," Bradley said.
The Conservancy’s land protection projects have ranged from Burt Forest, 10,000 acres around Mount Mansfield, to the 120-acre Chickering Bog, a 10,000-year-old fen in Calais.
The group also helped conserve Green River Reservoir, now a state park, in Lamoille County and the land that became the Alburg Dunes State Park.