Celebrating Chet Anderson

November 30, 2023

Chet Retires After 25+ Years of Service

We at MLT owe a great debt to those who have stepped up, gone far above the norm, and consistently given their time, talent, and treasure in the fullest measure. Such a person is our own MLT Board Member Chet Anderson. So, it is with mixed feelings we announce his recent retirement as his current term expired. We are happy that he will have more time to spend with his family and friends, but we also know that his warmth and wisdom will be sorely missed.

Chet has served MLT for more than 25 years including more than two decades on the Board. He has helped us go through exciting and difficult times alike. He has been an MLT member and volunteered since moving to Mendocino in 1997. He served as President of the Board from 2003-2005. Chet said he decided to join the board because he “admired the people involved and their mission of saving and protecting land. I liked the model of ‘landowners’ voluntarily conserving their land and not having government use condemnation powers. The work of MLT to that time was impressive although much less than today.”

He has fond memories about his earliest days.

“I do not know my starting date on the Board; I do have a beautiful plaque from MLT that acknowledges my ‘25 years of outstanding service to MLT’. We (Chet and Sherri, his wife) bought our house in 1993 and moved here on Christmas Day in 1997,” Chet said. 

“I got to know Betty Barber and Grail Dawson, both ‘almost’ founders of MLT, very early from playing tennis with them,” he continued. “Both had served multiple terms as President of the MLT Board. Roger Sternberg was our first Executive Director, and first full-time paid employee. Grail and Ken Karlstad, then ED, bought me a cup of coffee and tried to convince me to go on the Board; I demurred as I was still a ‘full-time’ consultant, but I did agree to be on the Lands Committee which reviewed all project stuff back in that time. I soon realized that I might as well go on the Board.”

As Chet tells his stories, he frequently laughs. He recounted a memory of telling his granddaughter about his work with MLT and also Habitat for Humanity.

“I was laughing because I just had an exchange with one of my granddaughters. She’s smart, now in her mid 20s…. But when they were little, she would come up and stay with us. My granddaughter was aware of the Land Trust and Big River, and also Habitat. I showed her the house we were building. She was eight years old. Then she said; ‘Grandpa you have two opposing jobs. You save the trees with the Land Trust and then cut them down to build houses,’” he pauses to laugh. “I’ve enjoyed both areas of work.”

Chet explained his decision to leave the Board, which began with a recent conversation with Sherri. He says he decided to “step away” because “it’s good to have new blood.”

“My wife says, ‘Are you going to stay on the board forever?’ I hadn’t made a specific plan to get off the board. But at the last board meeting, they had the agenda printed out. They had the election of board members whose terms expired this year, and my name was on that list. So, I spoke up to Richard Strom, and said ‘I need to step in here because I’m not going to stand for re-election. I am not resigning, but so no one could ever say I resigned or was kicked off.’ I think it was LBJ who said that, when eligible for another full term, said something like: ‘If nominated, I will not run. If elected, I will not serve,’” Chet said, and laughed again.

Before moving to Mendocino, Chet worked for more than 50 years as a Professional Civil Engineer specializing in drinking water quality with the State of CA Health Department; Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, the largest public drinking water agency in the U.S.; his own consulting engineering firm, and as Senior Editor of an international online Safe Drinking Water newsletter. He also has served as Chair of the Safe Drinking Water committee for the Association of California Water Agencies and has been a member of several other national professional engineering and water associations.

He has served as a Director of Mendocino Coast Habitat for Humanity for more than 20 years and chaired their annual Kite Festival, and in his spare time, he also has managed his community water system in his subdivision in Mendocino.

Chet says that his proudest accomplishments during his tenure on the MLT Board were “along with a coalition of many other people, helping to save Big River, and providing public access to amazing ocean-view properties.” The challenges, then and now, have remained much the same: “fundraising to keep the lights on and good staff employed.”

His message to those businesses and individuals who have supported or are thinking about supporting MLT is straightforward: “We cannot rely on government to do all that needs to be done,” and his advice to those who will succeed him on the board is: “Find the niche where your strengths match critical needs, and jump in!”