Climate Justice Report

In 2018, RLF supported preparation of an inaugural Climate Justice Report to summarize peer-reviewed research and stimulate discussion on how California can ensure that no group of people disproportionately bears the burden of climate impacts or the costs of mitigation and adaptation. The report, available here, was incorporated into the California Natural Resources Agency’s Fourth Climate Change Assessment, which provides actionable science to guide state policy.

Guide to California’s Marine Life Management Act, second edition

In December 2017, RLF released the second edition of Guide to California’s Marine Life Management Act, written by RLF’s Mike Weber, as well as Huff McGonigal and Burr Heneman. The new version  updates and expands material found in the first edition, which agency staff and stakeholders have relied upon since its publication in 2000. The Guide seeks to aid agency staff and stakeholders engaged in the revision of the Master Plan for Fisheries–which itself guides implementation of the Marine Life Management Act–as well as in other aspects of MLMA implementation. The Guide can be viewed here.

Ecosystem Adaptation Guidelines

In February 2012, RLF convened a panel of leading scientists to answer the question: “How can California secure its most important natural assets—its vibrant ecosystems and the many benefits they provide to society—given the future that climate change presents?” The result was a set of guiding principles for ecosystem adaptation, developed through the panel’s deliberations, consultation with potential users of the principles, and extensive peer review. Ecosystem Adaptation to Climate Change in California: Nine Guiding Principles, a report detailing the principles as well as the project’s background and rationale, can be viewed here.

In February 2015, the journal BioScience published “Adapting California’s Ecosystems to a Changing Climate,” an article that grew out of RLF’s 2012 report. Written by a cohort of authors, “Adapting California’s Ecosystems” explores efforts to translate improved understanding of how climate change is altering ecosystems into practical actions for sustaining ecosystem functions and benefits. Focused on four California case studies, the article illustrates how existing institutional and policy frameworks provide numerous opportunities to advance adaptation related to ecosystems and suggest that progress is likely to be greatest when scientific knowledge is integrated into collective planning and when supportive policies and financing enable action. The article, included in the March 2015 issue of BioScience, can be viewed here.

Preserving Wild California

Preserving Wild California was a five-year, $150 million program designed to preserve California’s wild lands and rivers, and to ensure their permanent protection by investing in systematic acquisitions of land and fostering supportive policies, organizations, and constituencies. Preserving Wild California offered grants and loans and entered into contracts for land acquisition, planning, policy and advocacy, constituency building, nonprofit organizational capacity building, and stewardship and restoration. Among other important outcomes, efforts significantly supported by the program led to the protection through Wilderness designation of more than one million acres of California wildlands.

A comprehensive external assessment of the Preserving Wild California program, conducted by Dr. Steven Yaffee of the School of Natural Resources and Environment at the University of Michigan, can be viewed here.

A final report on the program, Preserving Wild California: A Legacy of Enduring Conservation, can found here.

Parks Forward

The Parks Forward Commission was established under statute by Governor Jerry Brown to examine the steady deterioration of California’s state parks over many years and to make recommendations to the governor and legislature on how to reverse it. Several prominent California philanthropies came together to support a multidisciplinary effort—the Parks Forward Initiative—to bring about the change needed to transform the California Department of Parks and Recreation and address the long-term sustainability of the state’s park system.

Through a formal partnership with the State of California, Resources Legacy Fund coordinated the Parks Forward Initiative on behalf of the supporting philanthropies, including the S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation, William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, James Irvine Foundation, Marisla Foundation, Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, and David and Lucile Packard Foundation.

The Parks Forward Commission’s final recommendations–A New Vision for California State Parks–can be found here. For more information, visit

South Bay Salt Ponds Restoration Photo Archive

In 2003, with funding from the Goldman Fund, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, and the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, RLF helped federal and state agencies purchase more than 16,000 acres of commercial salt ponds and property ringing South San Francisco Bay and in Napa County. Subsequently, RLF managed philanthropic funds supporting initial stewardship and restoration planning, pilot projects, and restoration science. From 2003-2013, RLF supported the work of Pelican Media to photographically document the restoration of the salt ponds, capturing the original condition of the salt-making operations and ponds, restoration activities, public use, and wildlife. This photo-archive chronicles the dramatic transformation of land and the return of a variety of native species, habitat, and public use to these areas. The collection can be found here.