Balancing Nature And Commerce Program

“Thriving, Not Just Surviving”

Over the past 15 years, The Conservation Fund’s Conservation Leadership Network has offered assistance specifically to gateway communities through our Balancing Nature and Commerce Program. Our goal is help these communities forge solutions for both conservation and economic development goals.

The program offers national and place-based workshops, resources and different types of community assessments as well as a community of practice for participating communities. Click on the links below to learn more program offerings. 


The program is comprised of national and place-based workshops that focus on the economics, community character, natural resources and partnership building skills necessary for creating sustainable communities. Please contact CLN if you would like to set up a workshop for your community.  Or, view our upcoming course list to find out if there is a workshop scheduled.

Livability and Sustainable Tourism Assessments

The Balancing Nature and Commerce workshops also facilitate livability and sustainable tourism assessments that provide evaluation and recommendations for existing and future nature-based and cultural heritage tourism opportunities. In addition, participants are introduced to trends in sustainable agriculture, alternative transportation and renewable energy.  Learn more >>

Community of Practice

Check out the hub page for our Balancing Nature & Commerce Community of Practice, featuring new tools, resources and innovative strategies being implemented across the nation that can support your own efforts. Visit Community of Practice >>

Publications & Resources

We provide a list of new publications, websites and tools to assist you in your community’s planning and project delivery.  Learn more >>

Funding Opportunities

Are you looking to fund community projects in your area? Check here periodically for an updated list of national funding opportunities that you can use to enhance your community. Learn more >>

Success Stories

Click on the projects below to learn about how our Balancing Commerce and Nature Program has helped these communities thrive.

You can also view this video by the PA Wilds team, who attended both a national and place-based workshop back in 2007.  Learn about their progress and inspire your own community team! 


  • Two Nations, One Region: The Heart Of The Continent

    Lake at Quetico Provincial Park

    The Heart of the Continent represents more than the geographical center of the North American continent. Made up of public lands such as Quetico Provincial Park, Superior National Forest, and Voyageurs National Park, the area is also 5.5 million acres… Read More

  • Balancing Nature And Commerce In Unicoi County

    View from Roy's Rock, Rocky Fork Tennessee

    Known as “The Valley Beautiful,” this rural Appalachian community is prime for development, but it is also home to great natural beauty—making decisions about land use difficult. While helping to conserve one popular destination, Rocky Fork, our Conservation Leadership Network® (CLN) provided training… Read More

  • Gateway Community Initiative In Michigan: Waterloo Recreation Area

    main street in Chelsea, Michigan

    Waterloo Recreation Area in Michigan is a little-known treasure. About a one-hour drive from Ann Arbor, this 20,000-acre park is the largest in the lower peninsula and shares a 36-mile hiking trail with the Pinckney State Recreation Area. Yet there wasn’t… Read More

  • Balancing Nature And Commerce In The New River Gorge Region

    New River Gorge

    In October 2010, the Fund’s Conservation Leadership Network brought together local business leaders, elected officials and public land managers for a three-day workshop to discuss changes that are coming to West Virginia’s New River Gorge region.  As the new host… Read More