News & Insights

Parks and Tree Canopy Are a Matter of Life and Death in Los Angeles

Parks and tree canopy are literally a matter of life and death in Los Angeles. This is especially true in the middle of an extreme summer heat wave. A recent UCLA study quantified the benefit. Researchers found that if the areas of Los Angeles County that currently have below average tree canopy cover and park acreage were just brought up to the average, Angelenos alive today would enjoy close to 1 million years of additional life expectancy. And that’s controlling for all other factors, such as household income and access to healthcare. Think about that for a minute. The benefit…

World Water Day 2024: Peacebuilding through Dam Removal

This Friday, March 22, is World Water Day. Each year, the United Nations marks the day, March 22, by highlighting the importance of freshwater and the need for more collaborative and sustainable water management. The theme for this year’s global observance is “Water for Peace.” That plea seems apt. Around the world, we see ample evidence that water scarcity creates and prolongs conflict, while cooperative and equitable approaches to water management can foster peace - building prosperity and resilience for all. In the American West, water use has been a source of conflict for well over a century – the…

Amplifying Voices, Empowering Change

Lessons Learned from the Western Conservation Communications Hub In the realm of conservation, effective communication is the key to fostering understanding, mobilizing communities, and turning passion into action and tangible results. Over the past five years, the Western Conservation Communications Hub, an initiative powered by Resources Legacy Fund and generously supported by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, has focused on equipping nonprofits with the tools and capacity to tell compelling, authentic stories and advance narrative change around conservation issues in the West. As this work concludes, and in the spirit of shared learning, we believe it’s important to reflect…

Large dam on Klamath River

Dam removal supports California’s 30×30 goals

OPINION published in Capitol Weekly, November 7, 2023, by Julie Turrini – California has hundreds of outdated dams, small and large, that no longer serve a function. These obsolete dams litter our rivers and streams, block fish passage, and create costly liabilities to communities. We need to accelerate our pace of dam removal as a nature-based strategy for restoring freshwater systems and preparing for increasing threats from climate change. Dam removal fits nicely within California’s effort to protect 30 percent of its land and coastal waters by 2030 (30×30). After all, rivers and streams connect the land to the coast and along the…

RLF Welcomes Gina McCarthy to its Board of Directors

PRESS RELEASE: Resources Legacy Fund (RLF), a California-based environmental nonprofit organization, welcomes Gina McCarthy to its board of directors. McCarthy served as the first-ever White House National Climate Advisor in the Biden administration and was U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator in the Obama administration. RLF works to solve the crises of climate change, loss of healthy ecosystems and biodiversity, and environmental injustice by partnering with diverse leaders and communities on the frontlines of those fights. “I support the important work that RLF engages in to protect people and nature and applaud their excellent track record of success,” said Gina…

Evaluation Underscores Value of Collaborative, Community-Driven Parks Building Model

People need parks. Parks improve physical and mental health, strengthen family and community relationships, reduce youth crime and violence, enhance neighborhood pride and identity, provide economic benefits, decrease health care costs, increase biodiversity, improve air quality, reduce runoff and water pollution, reduce temperatures, mitigate climate change, foster an environmental ethic, and more. Unfortunately, access to these body-mind-community benefits is wildly inequitable. For decades, Black, Brown, and low-income communities have faced historic disenfranchisement and oppression from redlining and other policies that have led to chronic social, economic, and environmental stressors such as poverty, violence, and pollution. California is finally changing its…

We need federal leadership on wildfire and smoke safety

In the last few weeks, the Midwest and East Coast have faced a reality the West has experienced for years: thick, sticky, and hazardous wildfire smoke settling into cities and millions of people’s lungs; cancelled school days, flights, and sports events; thousands of people becoming sick. And all against the backdrop of foreboding orange skies, like we experienced here in Northern California in September 2020. Wildfire smoke goes where the wind blows, disregarding geographic boundaries, crossing the “aisle,” and affecting everyone—but it disproportionately impacts pregnant women, people with respiratory health issues like asthma, and older, and very young people. All…

World Ocean’s Day and a Milestone for Equitable Access in California

"It's like we're introducing them to their own backyard. What struck me when I first came on was that some of these kids have lived here (San Diego) all their lives; they're only 15 to 20 minutes away from the ocean, but they'd never been. There's this feeling of not belonging, especially if they don't see representation, so we are working toward ensuring everyone feels welcomed in these natural spaces." - Sunny Chang, youth programs manager at Outdoor Outreach. World Oceans Day, June 8, reminds us of the role the ocean plays in our lives. It’s a great day to…

Listening to Grantees to Build a Better Organization

RLF is committed to advancing justice and equity as we pursue conservation, environmental, and climate solutions; expanding diversity in the environmental movement; and ensuring that our staff are buoyed by a sense of belonging as they engage in this important work. As an organization, we’ve been working hard to evolve our practices internally and externally—to show up with authenticity, compassion, and dedication; listen; and make sure the voices of historically underrepresented and/or excluded people are heard. To see how effective we’ve been, we asked our grantees—many of whom are on the frontlines of environmental injustice and the climate crisis—what they…

Climate Change Necessitates Stronger Safety Net for Farmworkers

On this day of remembrance for César Chávez—an advocate, alongside Dolores Huerta, for farmworker rights, social justice, and human dignity—Resources Legacy Fund would like to call attention to the critical role of farmworkers and the obligation to provide them a stronger safety net, especially in the face of worsening climate disaster. California agriculture is a $50 billion industry, which relies heavily upon the 160,000+ farmworkers who plant, tend, and harvest crops. The majority of farmworkers in California are undocumented and lack access to health insurance, unemployment benefits, and many other state and federal safety net programs. As the catastrophic impacts…

Documentary Spotlights Dam Removal Partnerships

To celebrate its first five years of work, Open Rivers Fund—a program of Resources Legacy Fund, launched in November 2016 with a 10-year, $50-million investment from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation—worked with film director Jason Jaacks to produce a documentary highlighting several dynamic dam removal projects and partnerships that are reshaping waterways across the American West. The 15-minute documentary, “Restoring Our Rivers: Communities Taking Action,” premiered on Thursday, March 23 at the Washington, DC Environmental Film Festival. The film takes a look at aging dams and the problems they cause, answering a question made increasingly urgent by climate change: How…

We Must Invest More in Climate Adaptation

As California communities begin to recover after a series of atmospheric rivers caused death and immense economic damages nearly state-wide, we must reckon with the need to increase investment in climate change adaptation and resilience. The Newsom Administration’s proposed 2023-2024 budget, released two weeks ago, maintains significant funding for fighting climate change and protecting communities from its impacts.  Yet it still reflects difficult decisions to decrease funding for extreme heat and community resilience, nature-based solutions, coastal resilience, and other strategies that help us adapt to the climate impacts already upon us. While the Governor seeks additional sources of funding from…

Indigenous-led Conservation in the International Spotlight

The last few years have brought a cascade of stories about the decline of the natural world. Yet amid the grim news, a bright spot shines through. Lands managed by Indigenous Peoples tend to be healthier and more vibrant than other areas, according to several major studies. In fact, 80 percent of the world’s remaining biodiversity is on lands cared for by Indigenous Peoples.  The power of Indigenous-led conservation took center stage at the UN Biodiversity Summit in Montreal in December. Known as COP15, the summit was a once-in-a-decade negotiation aimed at reversing the perilous decline of animals, plants, and…

Dos Rios—Much-Needed, Long-Awaited Park for the San Joaquin Valley

California officials recently announced the creation of the first new state park since 2009: Dos Rios Ranch, at the confluence of the Tuolumne and San Joaquin Rivers, near the San Joaquin National Wildlife Refuge. The announcement was remarkable, but not only because of the long interval since the last park opening in a state whose park system is the largest in the nation (with its 279 state park units, over 340 miles of coastline, 970 miles of lake and river frontage, 15,000 campsites, 5,200 miles of trails, 3,195 historic buildings and more than 11,000 known prehistoric and historic archaeological sites).…

Let’s meet this setback with resolve: Reflections on the SCOTUS EPA decision

Note from RLF President Avi Garbow to staff and board after the Supreme Court’s EPA ruling on June 30, 2022. Yesterday, the United States Supreme Court issued an opinion in West Virginia v. EPA, and by a 6-3 vote, severely restricted EPA’s authority under the federal Clean Air Act to control emissions from coal-fired power plants, the largest-emitting stationary sources fueling our climate crisis. This ruling deals a blow to federal efforts to address a worsening crisis that affects us all, with broad ramifications for generations to come. The lengthy opinion rests upon the majority’s view that the EPA’s exercise…

Reflections on DEI progress in the workplace

When I reflect on the past year of RLF’s progress advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in the workplace, I’d describe it as a year of questioning. Our human resources (HR) team has been questioning our day to day work—why have we been doing things the way we do? What practices should we change to better align with our values and promote DEI? How can we attract qualified candidates of all backgrounds and support equity in hiring? We found opportunities to make changes at almost every step of the recruiting process and will continue to make improvements in the coming…

Ocean Advocates Speak Passion to Policy

California Ocean Day was back on March 29, 2022, for its 17th year, and second year as a virtual event. Over 300 advocates convened to hear from speakers and panelists and meet with more than 100 state elected officials to bring more awareness and urgency to a wide range of issues facing California’s coast and ocean. Hosted by Resources Legacy Fund partners Azul, Environmental California, and the Surfrider Foundation, each year Ocean Day brings together individuals and organizations from around the state to share their concerns and offer ideas for improved ocean protection.   As a changing climate continues to…

Hands across the sand, copyright Heal the Bay

“An inescapable network of mutuality”

Note from RLF President Avi Garbow to staff on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service 2022. As I come to the end of my first week with you all, and as we remember and honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on Monday’s holiday and day of service, I wanted to share some reflections on the meaning of our work, our purpose, and our opportunities to participate in the building of Dr. King’s vision of a beloved community: On Christmas Eve, 1967, on the pulpit at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered what would…

Thoughts of Gratitude and Hope

As Avi Garbow prepares to take over as the new president of Resources Legacy Fund, I find myself filled with confidence in his leadership, excitement for the future, and a profound sense of gratitude for all the people I have been privileged to work with: my RLF colleagues and board members and our partners, funders, and grantees. Without these relationships RLF’s significant impact and impressive evolution over the years simply would not have been possible. I have learned over and again from you. I am grateful for the vision of the Packard Foundation that led to RLF’s creation more than…

Announcement: Resources Legacy Fund Welcomes Avi Garbow as New President

Resources Legacy Fund is pleased and proud to welcome Avi Garbow as its new president. Garbow is a nationally recognized environmental leader, lawyer, and advocate with decades of experience tackling many of the most critical threats to our air, water, and lands. He takes over from Michael Mantell, who founded RLF more than 20 years ago. Most recently, Garbow served as Patagonia’s first Environmental Advocate, providing strategic leadership and vision to the company’s robust environmental advocacy efforts. He took on a temporary assignment in the Biden administration, as senior counselor to the administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA),…

A Personal and Organizational Mandate for a Just and Equitable Future

My 70-year-old mother recently told me about a friend of hers who started walking with a cane, not to steady her gait, but to fend off potential attackers. Though my mom isn’t quite ready to carry a would-be-weapon, she said she chooses her daily walking routes with more care these days. As an Asian American woman, anecdotes like these make me incredibly sad and angry. I immigrated to the United States when I was nine years old but consider myself an American. My English is far more fluent than my Korean, and during hot summer days, it’s burgers on the…

Kua'āina Ulu ʻAuamo (KUA)

Leading by Listening: Bold Steps Forward for Hawai‘i’s Ocean

This year, on World Ocean Day, Hawai‘i set an example for the rest of the world about how to take action to restore abundance to its spectacular coastlines, well-loved reefs, and deeply valued marine life. Governor David Ige signed nine bills that advance new ocean protections for Hawai’i, including new revenue sources for restoration and management: a visitor fee on commercial ocean tours to fund restoration and conservation (HB 1019), fishing licenses for nonresidents (HB 1021), and new policies like shark protection (HB 553), adaptive management (HB 1020) and inspection authority for conservation officers to strengthen enforcement of existing laws…

Malibu Creek State Park

Biden’s Conservation Commitment Much More Than A Climate Solution

The United States is facing a multitude of crises: climate change, species extinction, languishing public health, racial and economic inequity, and the legacies of colonialism. These crises were destined to collide, which is why resolving them demands an integrated problem-solving approach. President Biden’s launch on May 6 of an ambitious national initiative to conserve and restore 30 percent of U.S. lands and waters by 2030 (“30x30”) is an important contribution to solving the problems our nation and world have incubated over the past two centuries. We’re at a tipping point, and that is why the ambitious 10-year goals of this…

Fishing boats in Chile

From Ruin to Resilience: Supporting Global Fisheries’ Sustainability amid Pandemic

Marine fisheries generate a critical protein source for more than a billion people worldwide, and an often irreplaceable source of income for developing-world communities exporting to international markets. Yet poor fisheries management frequently results in habitat destruction and overfishing, depleting stocks and steadily raising the costs to land each kilogram of fish.[1] The need for a new paradigm for global fisheries management and trade—built on science-based catch limits and basic labor standards for all industry participants—was urgent before the Covid-19 pandemic. Today the situation is even more dire. As a result of the pandemic and stringent public health measures, small-scale…