Topic: Healthy Communities

News & Insights

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OPINION published in Capitol Weekly, November 7, 2023, by Julie Turrini – California has hundreds of outdated dams, small and large, that no longer serve a function.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…

News & Insights

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…

News & Insights

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…

News & Insights

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…

Programs

Climate Mayors

Climate Mayors is a bipartisan network of more than 470 U.S. mayors demonstrating climate leadership through meaningful actions in their communities. Representing 48 states and 74 million Americans, the Climate Mayors coalition reflects U.S. cities’ commitment to climate progress. In addition to local climate leadership, Climate Mayors build political will for federal and global climate action. Hundreds of members have signed the Climate Mayors letters committing to the Paris Agreement and calling on Congress to invest in a green and equitable economic recovery. Website: https://climatemayors.org/

News & Insights

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).…

Programs

Wildfire Strategies Program

Our Wildfire Strategies program aims to achieve a more wildfire-resilient California and Western United States by 2030 through better policy and significantly increased funding for forest management, community resilience and home hardening, Tribal leadership on forest stewardship and fire management, and public health measures that protect people from the impacts of smoke. The program supports research, coalition-building, budget advocacy, and tests innovative proofs of concept for broader adoption. Related News: We need federal leadership on wildfire and smoke safety, by Laura Tam and Jennee Kuang, July 19, 2023

Programs

Parks Forward Implementation Initiative

In 2015, California’s Parks Forward Commission, with support from leading California philanthropies, set forth an ambitious ten-year vision for California parks. The Commission’s recommendations call for modernizing the California Department of Parks and Recreation to improve and diversify partnerships, provide access to all Californians, and ensure stable, diverse funding for parks. RLF collaborates with the Department, California Natural Resources Agency, and park partners to implement high priority Commission recommendations that deliver tangible outcomes in parks for all Californians.

Programs

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. 

Programs

Equitable Infrastructure for Los Angeles

With the passing of Measures A, M, and W in Los Angeles  and California Proposition 68—all developed and passed with the help of our partners—Los Angeles is poised to transform communities with billions of dollars of public funding for parks, transportation, drinking water, and coastal protection. Working with local groups, RLF is advancing a vision that will drive these new public funds toward priority parks and multiple-benefit infrastructure projects in disadvantaged communities. This Los Angeles-focused program, launched in 2019, builds on RLF’s successful track record of policy and funding work and community engagement to leverage and mobilize recently created public…

Programs

California Environmental Equity Initiative

California Environmental Equity Initiative (CEEI) seeks to strengthen California climate and environmental policies and increase public funding to address intersecting environmental, climate, social, and health issues that disproportionately impact low-income communities and communities of color. CEEI focuses on building capacity, power, and leadership among younger, more ethnically diverse  leaders, organizations, and coalitions advocating for environmental outcomes that benefit their communities and better meet the needs of California’s most marginalized residents. The program supports community-driven efforts that increase access to parks, public lands, and safe drinking water and build resilience to climate change in ways that enhance justice, health, and well-being.

Programs

Western Rural Communities

The Western Rural Communities (WRC) program is one of several RLF efforts to build long-term support and momentum for conservation in the rural, intermountain region of the western United States. WRC collaborates with local business, community, and government leaders to address intractable environmental and socioeconomic problems with multi-benefit solutions. The work is rooted in an interdisciplinary understanding of the unique economics, culture, geography, and environmental values of the region to advance tailored solutions that maximize conservation and community outcomes.

Programs

San Francisco Bay Area Conservation

RLF has been working in the San Francisco Bay Area since 2001, when it commenced efforts to secure the acquisition of commercial salt ponds surrounding the San Francisco Bay. Current efforts support wetlands restoration around the Bay, with a focus on building a diverse constituency to support equitable, long-term funding and government policies for Bay restoration and flood improvements, including the effective implementation of Measure AA.   RLF also supports a regional land conservation approach in the Bay Area that boosts ecosystem resilience for conservation and communities. RLF focuses on multi-benefit conservation efforts that protect and restore high-value habitat and…

News & Insights

Pandemic Spotlights Importance of Local Farms to Food Security

COVID-19 has hit our economy like a wrecking ball. While news headlines have been filled with stories about bars re-closing and shuttered hair salons, even the most fundamentally essential of industries, farming, has been hard hit. Now, as wildfires rage across more than a million acres of California, dense smoke fills the air, further compromising the health and well-being of those working to put fresh food on our tables. Just as the first spring crops of asparagus and strawberries were beginning to show up at California farmers markets in March, schools and restaurants throughout the nation abruptly closed and entire…

News & Insights

Recovery with Resilience: Public Investments for a Sustainable, Equitable Future

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…

News & Insights

Missoula offers momentum on Rattlesnake Dam removal

With work to remove Missoula’s Rattlesnake Creek Dam now underway, it’s a good time to call attention to the inspiring local partnerships that led to this. There are lessons that can apply across the West. The 60-foot-long dam, in place since 1904, will be removed and the creek restored, giving bull trout, westslope cutthroat and other species renewed access to miles of spawning habitat. While dam removals are occurring with increasing frequency, this project is remarkable in how it came about and what may come of it. My colleagues and I at Resources Legacy Fund have had the good fortune…

Publications

Economic Transitions in Energy-Focused Communities

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.