Face Of This Place: Kendra Briechle
Kendra Briechle at Kenai National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska.
Kendra Briechle has been with The Conservation Fund for more than a decade—and for more than five years as the Senior Training Associate for the Fund’s Conservation Leadership Network (CLN). Kendra has traveled across the United States, working with communities to help them optimize their natural assets while fostering economic development. Currently, she is engaged in CLN’s efforts with the Federal Lands Livability Initiative, which begins in fall 2013.
Could you explain what the Fund’s Conservation Leadership Network is and how it works?
The main goal of CLN is to bring together diverse constituencies to forge on-the-ground conservation solutions. We work with an array of corporate, community and nonprofit partners with the idea that we can help them find common ground. We do this through a wide range of services, including technical assistance, capacity building, sustainability consulting, education resources and training.
What brought you to the Fund and CLN in particular?
I got a master’s in city and regional planning and, while working in a previous job, I had a chance to partner with The Conservation Fund. I really loved what the Fund was doing. I was so impressed by how smart and savvy it is and how the staff is so committed to entrepreneurial solutions for conservation. So I joined the Fund staff and then, given the synergy between my experience and CLN’s key issues, Kris Hoellen (CLN director) invited me to join the team in 2008.
What’s one of the greatest successes you’ve experienced through CLN?
I really think it’s the transformation of places and people. Our greatest success is seeing people implement a positive change through bringing multiple elements of their community together. Through effort and organization, we’ve seen many communities tie the health of their natural resources to a sense of place and community character, as well as build stronger economic opportunities.
What is the Federal Lands Livability Initiative and what is CLN’s role in it?
This initiative is an opportunity to understand and improve overall livability—and especially transportation choices—in the places where there is a unique relationship between communities and public lands. Whether those lands are owned by federal, state or local entities, these communities are adjacent to these treasured areas. In fact, they are referred to as “gateway communities” because they are portals to these public lands. (To see a map of the gateway communities involved in the initiative, click here.)
As part of the initiative, CLN will visit communities and work with local teams and land management agencies to assess livability and help build partnerships between the residents and the nearby public lands then provide the communities and their public land partners with recommendations for action. Our hope is that this initiative will gain momentum to ignite on-the-ground change and demonstrate the value of our nation’s natural resources to citizens and visitors alike.
What is the greatest change you’ve seen in conservation during your tenure at the Fund?
I’ve seen a growth in the understanding of how natural resources contribute to the health, economic well-being and diversity of society. While there are certainly tighter budgets and less funding for land conservation on multiple levels, what continues to grow is this common understanding of the importance of natural resources. We still have a long way to go though.
As someone who works in conservation, if you were in a book club, what book would you recommend the club read?
I would say “A Walk in the Woods” by Bill Bryson. It’s hysterical—strangers come up to tell me how funny it is. The book focuses on the relationship between the Appalachian Trail and people—the hikers, the residents and the communities—and what they get out of living near this amazing natural resource. Some peoples and places are really disconnected, but others realize the importance of the trail not only to America’s character, but also the spirit of their community. That’s the kind of relationship I work on everyday as part of CLN.
You can read more about CLN’s effort at an Appalachian Trail gateway community here.