Our Mission

As the Conservation Partner of Newport Banning Ranch, the Newport Banning Land Trust will conserve and steward the natural open space preserve for the benefit of native species, and for the enjoyment by the public.

  • Robyn Vettraino - Executive Director

    Alter Ego: Great Egret


    Much like her alter ego Robyn's passion can be simplified into grace and elegance. Her extensive background in environmental stewardship and outdoor lifestyle allows her the compassion to inspire others with hopes to make our world a better place; more blue sky; cleaner water; and a place to run free.


    Mantra: Live and let live

    Favorite Architect: Frank O. Gehry

    Personality Traits: Compassionate, Leader, Empathetic, Nature Lover



    Theme Song

Our Vision

Newport Banning Land Trust (NBLT) is the community-based partner that will manage more than 300 acres of natural open space made accessible by a proposed accelerated cleanup and restoration of the 401-acre Newport Banning Ranch (NBR) oil field.  Following government approvals of the future re-use plans and restoration of the site, NBLT will actively manage and preserve the property in perpetuity and host environmental, educational and volunteer activities for the community and public.


We want to thank our partners, leaders and volunteers who have helped us develop this organization.


Our accomplishments during the past 5 years include:


• In partnership with the Institute for Conservation, Research and Education, NBLT created a field research program for local high school seniors to give them hands-on experiences in topics relating to water quality, mapping and restoration management.  The goal is to teach students the fundamentals of field biology in preparation for college level courses and to introduce them to potential careers by allowing them to work with professionals in this field.  The initiative has resulted in valuable citizen science being documented that can be utilized by all stakeholders.


• NBLT has also provided outdoor educational opportunities for students of all ages - Kindergartners through 12th grade on all levels of science learning.  More than 1,500 students have visited the property.


• NBLT created a community-based stewardship program – ReCreate - that engaged community volunteers in a more intimate relationship with the land.


• NBLT initiated a pilot community-based stewardship program on an existing 1.66-acre coastal sage scrub site on the NBR property.


• NBLT has an established relationship with the Land Trust Alliance and the California Council of Land Trusts which will guide our policies and procedures.


Recognizing that the future of the Newport Banning Ranch property is yet finalized, NBLT will be limiting its activities in the near term.  The NBLT plant nursery has been re-located to Costa Mesa High School.


The Newport Banning Land Trust will remain a functioning 501(c)(3) Foundation.  Even though certain activities are being reduced or assigned to others, NBLT remains focused on the future of the Newport Banning Ranch property – in particular the areas proposed to be designated as permanent open space.  NBLT will continue to participate in local environmental initiatives, as well as advise NBR ownership on matters related to water quality and coastal resources.


NBLT’s vision of preservation, collaboration, educational programs and public access will continue to be in effect.  We are proud of our progress and we are hopeful for a positive outcome for the land and the remaining habitat.  With oil field removal and management of invasive species on Newport Banning Ranch, the native vegetation can begin to be restored.  NBLT stands ready to resume and accelerate activities - including our open space stewardship role - when the details of the future land use are determined.



  • Doug Peterson

    Alter Ego: Long-Eared Owl


    Our fine feathered friend Doug is gifted with a passion to fly low to the ground much like the Long-Eared Owl glides on the hunt. Driven by movement of the outdoors his engagement is with trails, public access, and 30 years of active bicycling. You wont find him nesting much but most likely studying the Santa Ana River Trail and points of access as it relates to safety and environmental responsibility.


    Mantra: Life is short so live it

    Favorite Movie: Endless Summer

    Personality Traits: Good Health, Good Food, and Good Times

    Theme Song

  • Betsy Lake

    Alter Ego: Northern Harrier


    As a leading environmental attorney in California, Betsy hails from the northern portion of our state, but similar to the harrier, likes to migrate to more southerly areas in winter.  Her hawk-like keen eyesight (and insight) into the California landscape, has been honed over her past nearly 20 years of practicing environmental and land use law in California. She is a partner at Holland & Knight in San Francisco. In her free time, she is also a tireless advocate for State Parks and has been a Board Member of the California State Parks Foundation for over 15 years.  To help preserve her alter ego, Betsy is committed to smart development and preserving soaring open spaces.


    Mantra: Focus on what matters

    Favorite Artist(s): Christo and Jeanne-Claude

    Personality Traits: Enthusiastic, Disciplined, Positive, Committed

  • Barry Nerhus

    Alter Ego: Sea Turtle


    Barry Nerhus is the founder and senior biologist of Endemic Environmental Services, Inc. Barry graduated from California State University, Long Beach with a M.S. in Biology and has 7 years of experience working in environmental consulting. Barry specializes in herpetology and has extensive experience working with and studying Southern California's native pond turtle, the southwestern pond turtle. He is also trained and skilled in wildlife surveys, habitat restoration, habitat assessments, and wetland delineation.Barry can perform numerous federal endangered species surveys including california gnatcatcher, light-footed clapper rail, arroyo toad, desert tortoise, and least bell’s vireo surveys.


Created in 2013, to bring leaders in relevant fields to advise the NBLT as it pursues it’s mission stewarding the natural open space at the Newport Banning Ranch.


In April 2014, the Newport Banning Land Trust established a Finance Committee to make recommendations on financial policies and procedures in order to ensure that the Land Trust meets the high standards for a non-profit charity.  The finance committee meets quarterly ensures that Land Trust Alliance policies and procedures are adopted and followed by the Land Trust.

  • Bring current scientific information and relevant conservation and community knowledge to guide the conservation, restoration stewardship and public access planning and implementation.


  • Incorporate the experience of science, environmental, educational and community leaders to advise on all aspects of the NBLT operation


  • Bring a wide range of perspectives and skills including those with specialized expertise



Advisory Board

Finance Committee

  • George Basye - Chairman

    Alter Ego: Great Blue Heron


    It's Management, planning, entitlement, and disposition that is responsible for George's professional qualities and is much like his alter egos flexibility to nest in colonies and work efficiently at many levels. His ability to hunt day and night with optimum vision is a key factor in his success in the management of more than 4000 acres in Orange and Los Angeles counties. His nest is in Yorba Linda but he considers the marsh land his home.


    Mantra: Trust your guts

    Favorite Pastime: Cardinal watching (yep the baseball team)

    Personality Traits: Leader, Engaging, Content, Ready to Move Forward



    Theme Song

Every success story begins with a challenge overcome by individuals who are inspired to act for the greater good to influence collectively. The Newport Banning Land Trust core values are represented by the aspirations and drive of its board members, friends and sponsors.

Board Members

Inspired to Act

  • John Olivier

    Alter Ego: Side Blotched Lizard


    Out of the 3 color variety's of the Side Blotched Lizard, John finds himself most comparable to the defining qualities of the orange. As the president of a reputable award winning engineering company he shares the strength and dominant nature of his counter part, defending territories that he claims for success. With over 25 years of experience in civil engineering, sustainability, survey and mapping John's 360 degree view is his greatest asset.


    Mantra: Well done is better than well said

    Favorite Artist: Leonardo Da Vinci

    Personality Traits: Brainiac, Loyal, Dedicated, Fit for Life


    Theme Song

  • Byron de Arakal

    Alter Ego: Baja California Tree Frog


    As communication has trademarked the infamous cricket of the billowing Tree Frog, Byron has branded himself much as his alter ego; a master of communications. At a ripe age of 21 he launched his journalism career and became the youngest executive editor of Orange Coast Magazine! Since then he's crafted a multi-level practice in marketing communications, public and government affairs, corporate communications, media relations and issues management. Like the territorial nature of the Tree Frog, Byron is too when it comes to issues he stands by, so come prepared.


    Mantra: I can't sing...

    doesn't mean I wont.

    Favorite Movie: The Big Lebowski

    Personality Traits: Creative, Thinker,  Advocate, Good Listener


    Theme Song

  • Neil Brandom - Treasurer

    Alter Ego: Coyote


    Since Neil has been a pup and strayed from his den, his journey has fostered a successful blend of talents including: engineering, land development, management, entitlement and infrastructure. At top running speed of 40 mph, Neil is responsible for day-to-day management of an expanding portfolio of real estate assets, looking over his pack and serves on the board of a parent Project Muscular Dystrophy, a national non-profit.




    Mantra: Enjoy the little things in life

    Favorite Artist: Picasso

    Personality Traits: Compassionate, Leader, Outdoor Enthusiast, Runner



    Theme Song

  • Anthony Petros

    Former Newport Beach City Council member Anthony brings an exciting set of proven skills to our tribe. He is equally comfortable in a board meeting, solving traffic issues, attending a Zen retreat, or trekking the vast open spaces of Orange County. Anthony moves fast and smooth, embodying the soul and of an avid triathlete. He is always up for a good cause that benefits the environment and is passionate about bees.

Check me out


© Newport Banning Land Trust