A 25-year veteran of land and water conservation in California, Erik Vink, is the new executive director of the Delta Protection Commission. He succeeds former state Senator Michael Machado, who led the commission from 2010 until his retirement in July of this year.
The commission produces reports and proposes policies aimed at protecting, maintaining and restoring the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta region. It is deeply involved in a statewide debate over Delta restoration, which includes proposals to construct massive diversion tunnels for delivering water to agricultural interests and thirsty residents to the south. The commission is in the Natural Resources Agency.
The Fresno County native received a bachelor of science degree in agricultural economics from the University of California, Davis, in 1986. He was managing editor in 1985 of California Quarterly, a journal devoted to poetry that is sponsored by the California State Poetry Society.
After college, Vink took an assistant’s position with the California Department of Food and Agriculture. U.S. Senator Alan Cranston (D-California) hired him in February 1987. He worked on agriculture and natural resources issues in the senator’s Washington D.C. office for nearly two years before returning to California as a field representative in San Francisco.
Vink joined the national nonprofit American Farmland Trust in January 1990, where he held a number of positions during his 10-year stay, including California field and policy director. In that position, he was responsible for planning, budgeting, hiring, media relations and policy efforts at state and local levels. Vink managed coalitions and drafted legislation, which included the California Farmland Conservancy Program. He represented farmland conservation interests on regional and statewide task forces and coalitions, including the Agricultural Task Force for the Central Valley, Central Valley Habitat Joint Venture, California Futures Network and the governor's Commission on Building for the 21st Century.
Vink graduated from the California Agricultural Leadership Program in 1996 and was a 1997-98 Norman and Ruth Berg Fellow of the Soil and Water Conservation Society.
Governor Gray Davis appointed Vink to head the Division of Land Resource Protection in the Department of Conservation in July 2000. He oversaw a staff of 30 and was responsible for the state's agricultural land conservation programs, including the California Farmland Conservancy Program, the Williamson Act (preferential property tax assessment for participating agricultural landowners), the Farmland Mapping and Monitoring Program, and Resource Conservation District grant assistance.
Vink left the department in November 2003 to become program director for the Trust for Public Land, a national nonprofit land conservation organization. He was responsible for its Central Valley acquisition program. He worked there for a decade, with overlapping duties as a director on the board of the Yolo County Flood Control and Water Conservation District.