A Message on the COVID-19 Pandemic

Elvert Barnes

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.

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.

Sincerely,
Michael Mantell
President