Ecosystem Investment Partners Expands Management Team
As EIP heads into 2015 with ten investments now in portfolio and a full pipeline of prospects ahead, the firm is expanding it’s management team with top level talent in the environmental investment field. Two new Managing Directors with tremendous national experience are now on the team; Murray Starkel, who joined EIP in the third quarter of 2014, and Heath Rushing, who will join the firm full-time on February 1 of this year.
Murray Starkel’s most recent experience was at NGP Global Adaptation Partners, where his primary responsibility was to source deals for coastal protection and water resource investment. Prior to that position, he honed his leadership abilities and his technical skills in ecosystem and watershed management with 21 years of experience as an officer in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, finishing his career there as Lieutenant Colonel. During his time at the Corps, Murray gained extensive experience in the full life cycle of large program development working with federal, state and local regulatory agencies and executing complex construction projects.
After graduating from West Point, Murray served in various roles as a combat engineer, airborne engineer and commanded a topographic engineering company prior to completing graduate school at Carnegie Mellon and being appointed as an assistant professor at the U.S. Military Academy. After the teaching assignment at West Point, Mr. Starkel was the Deputy Commander of the San Francisco District for the Corps of Engineers, where he oversaw the program to restore vital portions of the San Francisco Bay coastal areas and confluences with flood protection systems throughout California.
In his last tour with the Corps of Engineers, Murray was the Deputy Commander of the New Orleans district during the Katrina disaster and led the repair and remediation efforts that followed. He worked diligently for three years on the $15 billion program to design and execute the repair and strengthening of the hurricane protection system in Southeast Louisiana including the mitigation required for the unavoidable impacts to the regional ecosystem.
Murray holds a MS in Environmental Engineering and a MBA from Carnegie Mellon University. He earned a BS in Nuclear Engineering from the United States Military Academy at West Point, and he is a veteran with combat tours in both Gulf Wars.
Our newest Managing Director, Heath Rushing, joins EIP as a seasoned entrepreneur in the rural real estate and natural resources sector who brings to EIP over 20 years of successful investing in land, mineral, and timber opportunities across the US. He has played a lead role in deal sourcing, negotiations, due diligence, financing and management of over 2 million acres of land and minerals in Alabama, Colorado, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, New York, Nevada, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas and Wyoming. He is widely known and respected for completing some of the most innovative transactions in the space.
Heath shares EIP’s passion for land conservation and the realization that while the public and philanthropic sectors contribute significantly to land conservation, there is far greater demand for land protection and restoration than existing funds can support. Through Fountain Investments, Inc., an investment company he co-founded in 1996 with his long-time business partner, MC Davis, Heath has been a key player in bringing private capital solutions to critical conservation transactions in partnership with The Nature Conservancy, Conservation Fund and numerous other conservation organizations and natural resource agencies. While conserving hundreds of thousands of acres, they have generated significant and profitable conservation-related revenue streams, including conservation easement sales and mitigation banking. Fountain has successfully invested in excess of $400 million in over 1 million acres of timberland, farms and ranches, generating competitive investment returns with an entrepreneurial conservation focus similar to EIP.
Heath also co-founded New Nevada Resources, LLC, a firm that owns and manages over 485,000 acres of land, as well as 1,250,000 acres of mineral rights and royalty interests in northern Nevada. Heath was also a driving force behind the consolidation and development of the Buena Vista Iron District and the ultimate Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) listing of Nevada Iron, Ltd., where he currently serves as a non-executive director. In addition, Heath serves as an advisor to the E.O. Wilson Biophilia Center in Freeport, Florida and on the Advisory Board of State Bank and Trust Company of Louisiana.
Heath graduated from Mississippi State University in 1994 with a BBA in Real Estate & Mortgage Finance. He holds real estate broker licenses in Alabama, Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi and is an Accredited Land Consultant (ALC).
With the addition of Murray and Heath to the EIP management team, the firm now has ten professionals with well over 100 years of combined experience in real estate investment, private equity fund management, mitigation banking, land conservation, ecological restoration, and environmental markets.