Montanans cherish their outdoor heritage, including 55 state parks that get two million visits a year. In 2018, RLF worked with Montana Governor Steve Bullock to address the stagnant funding, lack of public awareness, and deferred maintenance plaguing Montana State Parks. The Governor created a Parks in Focus Commission. RLF staffed its year-long effort to solicit public input and craft recommendations to ensure the necessary resources, capacity, and expertise to build and support the parks system Montanans deserve. Read the Commission’s final recommendations, published in December 2018.
Montana Parks Program
RLF launched the Montana Parks Program (MPP) in 2018 to support Montana’s Parks in Focus Initiative, an effort modeled after California’s Parks Forward Initiative, aimed at addressing the ailing Montana state parks system. Through MPP, RLF has conducted extensive public outreach and education, and is helping to shape and advance a set of recommendations that create more diverse and stable funding sources for state parks; broaden and strengthen the constituency for parks; and connect state parks to larger recreation and economic initiatives and community needs.
Even a Child Can See: Parks Access is More Important than Ever
June 30, 2020
The other day, my daughter asked if it was safe for us to have a family beach day again. She immediately frowned when I reminded her that even if a nearby beach were open, we would have nowhere to park because the lots are closed. “So, only people close enough to walk there, get to go to the beach?” she asked. “How is that fair?” She’s only 11 years old, but she already understands something many adults don’t: That everyone needs access to outdoor spaces, but not everyone has it. The COVID-19 crisis is reminding us how essential parks and…
As California nears the milestone of its first decade of MPA network implementation, valuable new lessons continue to emerge that can be applied both to improve its own efforts and to inform MPA managers around the world. As the impacts of climate change on ocean ecosystems become more dire, there is also a growing interest in understanding how MPAs may help build resilience. Ensuring California’s MPA network is effectively managed is critical to both meeting the goals of the Marine Life Protection Act itself and to ensuring the state’s MPAs contribute to a healthy and abundant ocean.
RLF commissioned this report to evaluate the constituency engagement strategy of its California Conservation Innovations (CCI) program. A research team conducted 19 interviews, two focus group sessions, and an online survey of 75 grantees to describe CCI’s grantmaking approach and its impact. This report summarizes the findings and makes five recommendations to RLF that can further evolve CCI’s constituency building strategy and outcomes.
California has committed to partnership-based model of managing its marine protected area (MPA) network, focusing on community stewardship and education, enforcement, policy and permitting, and scientific monitoring. This document summarizes some of the key components and lessons learned from California’s experience designing, launching, and implementing a program to monitor the ecological and socioeconomic impacts of its MPA network.
In November 2019, RLF President Michael Mantell and Cathy Reheis-Boyd, Western States Petroleum Association President, co-wrote an op-ed published in the Sacramento Bee that suggested how thoughtful environmentalists and petroleum producers could collaborate in moving realistically toward a sustainable, non-fossil fuel-based energy future.
From 2004 to 2012, RLF guided a public-private partnership including foundations, multiple stakeholder groups, and the State of California in creating a statewide, science-based network of marine protected areas (MPA) that protect nearly 17 percent of California’s nearshore ocean waters, the first such effort successfully completed in the United States. RLF produced an assessment of its experience in leading the eight-year Marine Life Protection Act Initiative that provides useful lessons to help guide MPA network planning efforts in other regions worldwide. Disponible en español.
The economies of the Intermountain West, especially energy-focused economies, have experienced tumultuous change in recent decades as a result of globalization, new technologies, regulatory changes, shifting consumer preferences, and competition from renewable energy. This report, funded by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, defines the primary challenges facing these communities and explores promising ideas on industry diversification and how to drive a healthy economic transition. Read the full report.
Climate change touches the lives of all Californians and virtually every aspect of state government. As California works to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, it must adapt to the climate impacts that have already begun and build resilience to face the changes to come. To help guide adaptation policies and funding under the Newsom Administration, RLF commissioned a review–including input from an advisory team of California scientists and policy experts–of California’s climate policy and approaches from the last 10 years and developed strategic recommendations for moving forward.
In March 2019, Resources Legacy Fund, the Monterey Bay Aquarium, and Ocean Conservancy together recommended actions the Newsom administration could take to help ensure the state’s extraordinary coast and ocean are healthy, productive, and accessible for generations to come. The recommended actions and a cover letter are available here.
Montanans cherish their outdoor heritage, including 55 state parks that get two million visits a year. In 2018, RLF worked with Montana Governor Steve Bullock to address the stagnant funding, lack of public awareness, and deferred maintenance plaguing Montana State Parks. The Governor created a Parks in Focus Commission. RLF staffed its year-long effort to solicit public input and craft recommendations to ensure the necessary resources, capacity, and expertise to build and support the parks system Montanans deserve. The Commission’s final recommendations, published in December 2018, are available here.
In a commentary published by Inside Philanthropy, RLF Vice President Peter Teague makes the case that coping with climate change, community by community, offers an antidote to divisive politics. Philanthropy is uniquely positioned to cut through the ideological noise to help communities prepare for higher sea levels, more intense heat waves, deeper droughts, and other effects of a changing climate. The December 2018 article is here.
In partnership with the UC Berkeley School of Law’s Center for Law, Energy and the Environment, in December 2018 RLF offered near-term actions for the Newsom administration to consider in addressing wildfire and forest management; flood, drought, and safe, affordable drinking water supplies; and climate mitigation, transportation, and housing. The recommended actions were distilled from three separate half-day discussions of a dozen or more policy experts, stakeholders, and practitioners.
RLF supported and guided AECOM’s creation of Paying for Climate Adaptation in California: A Primer for Practitioners. The October 2018 report describes options for investing in more resilient California communities and infrastructure and recommends ways to overcome the challenges that discourage cities, counties, water districts, utilities, state agencies, private companies, and other entities from making the investments California needs to thrive despite climate change. (Summary can be found here.)
In the Stanford Social Innovation Review, RLF leaders look at how private long-term investment can help spur public engagement—and lead to policy change and impact—in environmental conservation and beyond. The April 2018 article is here.
RLF commissioned this report, in collaboration with other funders, to define equity in the context of infrastructure funding, explain why equity matters, and identify strategies and recommendations for measuring equitable implementation of infrastructure funding. The report provides a simple framework for funders, advocates, and government agencies to use in advancing inclusive and integrated implementation of Measures A and M in Los Angeles County. These funding measures, passed by voters in 2016, will make available billions of dollars for years to come to support parks, open space, and transportation projects.
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, 2nd edition
In December 2017, RLF released the second edition of Guide to California’s Marine Life Management Act, written by RLF’s Mike Weber with Huff McGonigal and Burr Heneman. RLF partnered with the state of California to establish a process for implementing the landmark 1999 law. RLF and its donors continue to advance monitoring, stewardship, governance, and public funding for the statewide marine protected area network created under the law. The Guide can be found here.
After a budget crisis in 2012 nearly forced the closure of many state parks, RLF worked with the State of California to create an independent, collaborative effort to develop an action plan for a financially sustainable State Parks system that meets the needs of California’s increasingly urban, young, and diverse population. Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. established the Parks Forward Commission to make reform recommendations. The Commission’s final report can be found 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, after extensive peer review, was a set of guiding principles for ecosystem adaptation. You can find the guidelines here.
In February 2015, the journal BioScience published an article that grew out of RLF’s 2012 report. “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. 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 ensure permanent protection of wild lands through systematic acquisition and the fostering of supportive policies, organizations, and constituencies. Efforts significantly supported by the program led to federal wilderness designation of more than one million acres of California wild lands.
Dr. Steven Yaffee of the School of Natural Resources and Environment at the University of Michigan conducted a comprehensive assessment of the program, which can be viewed here.
A final report on the program, Preserving Wild California: A Legacy of Enduring Conservation, can be found here.
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. 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. The collection can be found here.
Announcement: Resources Legacy Fund Welcomes Avi Garbow as New President
November 18, 2021
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
June 24, 2021
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…
Biden’s Conservation Commitment Much More Than A Climate Solution
May 7, 2021
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…
Tomorrow’s Solutions Will be Found Where Issues Intersect
December 14, 2020
The lessons of 2020 are harsh and profound: science and leadership matter, resilient natural systems are essential to our health and security, and we have a long way to go on racial equity. As much as we all wish for 2021 to usher in a new era of hope and positive change, the work to achieve that reality is up to us. The last nine months have made clear that we need to think about and solve our problems in different ways. If we are to ensure a just and resilient future in which people and nature thrive, we must…
Recovery with Resilience: Public Investments for a Sustainable, Equitable Future
August 21, 2020
Image: Montana Conservation Corps crews, made up of high school and college students from the Wind River Indian Reservation, helping Chicago Botanic Garden interns collect seeds for the Seeds of Success program in the BLM Lander Field Office area. As America’s COVID catastrophe worsens, inflicting a depth of social and economic distress unprecedented in modern times, policymakers have a moral duty to implement a socially and environmentally just recovery, one that rectifies past systemic harms and steers our nation toward a brighter, greener, and more resilient future. Seven months since the first case of COVID-19 was detected here, our country…
Conservation Leadership More Important Than Ever
April 22, 2020
As the COVID-19 pandemic ravages lives and economies around the globe, all other issues, including conservation, have taken a distant backseat. On this 50th anniversary of Earth Day it’s worth remembering that adversity can spur progress: now is the time to lean into our collective efforts to advance conservation, environmental justice, and climate action. History shows us that even in the most difficult times, leadership and vision can advance largescale environmental successes with far-reaching ecological, social, and economic benefits. In 1933, as Great Depression unemployment peaked at almost 25%, newly elected President Franklin D. Roosevelt established the Civilian Conservation Corps…
Equity is at the Heart of Innovation in California
April 9, 2020
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to take a heavy physical, emotional, and economic toll across the globe. As devastating as it is in the moment, we must brace ourselves for the enduring impacts of this crisis, which will last long after we contain its viral growth. As with many crises, the hardest hit and the slowest to recover will be low-income communities. Through our work in the California Conservation Innovations (CCI) program, we hope we can provide support, thought partnership, and comradery as we continue to support new, ethnically diverse leaders and their important work in California’s underserved communities. The CCI…
Finding Hope in the Moment
April 1, 2020
When I sat down to write this blog, I began by reflecting on the first 20 years of RLF’s work and what the next 20 years will bring. Coronavirus had yet to upend the lives of many outside the Asian continent. Just a few weeks later, most of the country is on lock-down, the economy has imploded, nearly 10 million Americans have applied for unemployment, and the global death toll has topped 45,000, rapidly accelerating.* As devastating as this new reality is, I find comfort in the fact that we are coming together as neighbors, Americans, corporations, philanthropists, and global…