Lands and Climate

From its launch, RLF enabled what became a dramatic acceleration of land conservation in California, in concert with a huge expansion in organizational capacity for conservation groups all over the state, and significant related policy changes. RLF-led efforts have generated over $8 billion in new public funds and helped create long-term, dedicated sources of revenue for natural resources conservation, parks, water, wetlands restoration, and sensible transportation investments statewide and regionally in California, while building diverse coalitions and educating the public for needed conservation efforts. (Apart from its charitable role, RLF staff have separately helped to draft measures and led political campaigns associated with these funding efforts.)

RLF’s climate change focus is on adaptation and resilience. This work is interwoven throughout virtually all of its program areas, but has been perhaps most explicitly apparent in urban and regional land use/transportation planning and coastal resilience, related policy and funding efforts, and work with environmental justice and climate equity advocates. In addition, RLF created and guided a collaboration comprising major stakeholders to break a critical impasse over policy that would guide sustainable energy development. With RLF’s guidance, the group crafted a balanced approach for the U.S. Department of the Interior’s rules on solar energy facility and transmission siting, shaping the way new renewable energy sources would be developed across the American Southwest.

Active Land and Climate programs include:

Bay Area Conservation Initiative – Supports a multi-faceted effort to advance a regional approach to land conservation in the Bay Area, focusing on protection of high-priority lands that yield multiple benefits for conservation and communities, including protecting and restoring high-value habitat and wildlife linkages; providing recreation opportunities; addressing natural threats such as climate change, flood, drought, and fire; and supporting local economies. Also seeks to increase public funding in the region and help direct it to the highest value projects.

Climate – Driven by the twin themes of adaptation and resilience, RLF’s work in this area has included significant investments in building new analytical tools and analyses that demonstrated that more compact and transit-oriented growth would not only reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but would also lead to billions of dollars in health care savings by encouraging people to be more active and by reducing smog; hundreds of millions of dollars in reduced energy, water, and transportation costs for California’s consumers; and significant infrastructure savings for local agencies. RLF’s current climate focuses are urban and regional land use/transportation planning, coastal and wetland resilience efforts, additional policy and funding efforts on adaptation and resilience, and collaboration with environmental justice, public health, and climate equity leaders to develop recommendations for ensuring that California’s climate change adaptation strategy is responsive to environmental justice and climate equity concerns.

Pacific Northwest Conservation (Oregon, Washington) – Supports development of effective conservation projects, including long-term funding for land and water conservation and stronger conservation policies.

California Parks – Works to implement the Parks Forward Commission’s 2015 recommendations calling for modernizing the California Department of Parks and Recreation, ensuring the Department works effectively with new and existing partners, providing access to all Californians, and ensuring stable, diverse funding for parks. RLF also works to defend against assaults on park and open space land from proposed projects such as a toll road in Orange County.

Northwest Mexico Land Conservation – Advances land protection in select Northwest Mexico signature coastal landscapes in ways that maintain their landscape integrity and transforms conservation practices throughout the region.

California Conservation Innovations – Seeks to strengthen land and water conservation policies in California, increase long term public funding for land and water conservation, and engage younger and more ethnically diverse conservation constituencies to help shape program conservation initiatives and increase conservation benefits to their communities.

Wildlands Acquisition Program – Promotes the permanent protection of California’s wildlands through preservation of desert park and wilderness areas in California. The program funds inholding acquisitions in priority wilderness areas and national parks to consolidate public land holdings for natural resource protection in the California desert.