A Message on the COVID-19 Pandemic

Dear Friends,

COVID-19 has presented us all with unprecedented challenges as we juggle new responsibilities in quarantined life amid the steady drumbeat of despair in the news.

I find hope and inspiration in our collective work, which I believe is more important now than ever. We all saw the value of our parks, as people flocked to the outdoors for recreation and peace of mind during the early days of sheltering in place. Due to their overwhelming popularity, many parks closed, forcing people to find other ways to enjoy the fresh air and spring sunshine. Unfortunately, not everyone has an alternative, especially in low-income communities. These long-standing inequities are compounded by COVID-19, further highlighting the critical need to continue working with our funders and partners to advance more equitable access to the outdoors and the health benefits nature provides.

As COVID-19 continues its toll on lives and economies across the globe with destructive haste, we cannot divert our attention from the slower, also deadly, threat of climate change. While doctors, nurses, and scientists are on the frontlines bravely fighting this virus with dedication and innovation, we remain dedicated to building the resilience of our natural systems and communities for generations to come. We are committed to imagining and delivering a better future that proactively addresses the public health, economic, and biodiversity crises of tomorrow by planning, collaborating, and responding today to the issues of climate change, environmental injustice, and inequitable access to clean air, safe drinking water, nature, and parks.

On top of the pandemic, racial unrest has been reverberating across the country since the brutal killing of George Floyd on May 25. As American society confronts its racist roots, we at RLF are committed to supporting our Black friends, and all people of color, as allies to actualize a future that is truly defined by liberty and justice for all.   

Despite our physical isolation from one another, I feel as connected as ever to you, the people who continue to carry on our critical work to conserve land, water, and ocean resources while advancing healthy communities and social equity. Thank you for your continued dedication and partnership.

On behalf of all of us at RLF, I wish you, your families, and colleagues good health and a hopeful spirit.

Michael Mantell