Our Blog

Redefining Conservation

October 25, 2021|By Eric Wuestewald

Over the past 18 months, Volkswagen of America partnered with The Conservation Fund to identify and award five nonprofit organizations near their Chattanooga plant in Eastern Tennessee up to $50,000 each to enhance the community and address environmental priorities. Since then, as part of a larger $1.25 million donation, the Volkswagen Community Grant Program has provided environmental learning and leadership opportunities for local youth, protected forestland, supported clean rivers and waterways within the Cherokee National Forest, and given recreational access to outdoor lovers in the region. Here’s how the recipients have used the awards to help support nature in Tennessee:

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October 14, 2021|By Kelsi Eccles

Join us as we celebrate the unveiling of art projects at three urban parks that add beauty, support minority-owned businesses and enhance lives in these culturally significant conserved places. 

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October 13, 2021|By Michael Ford
Photo by Bill Murray and Preserve Vistoso.

Just a few miles north of Tucson, Arizona sits the town of Oro Valley, nestled between the Catalina and Tortolita mountain ranges within the Sonoran Desert. The sunny climate makes Oro Valley a great place to enjoy many outdoor activities, including biking, hiking, tennis and golf. With the help of many dedicated Oro Valley residents, The Conservation Fund is about to acquire and preserve 202 acres of open space to enhance the area’s natural, cultural and recreational resources.

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October 1, 2021|By The Conservation Fund
Photo courtesy North Carolina Wildlife Federation.

We are so proud of Buck Vaughan, The Conservation Fund’s Director of Forestry, who was recently honored as North Carolina Wildlife Federation’s Forest Conservationist of the Year. Described as “a farmer by birth, a forester by training, and a conservation leader who stitches together a deep love for the land with a practical application of science,” we invite you to learn more about him and this prestigious award.

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September 28, 2021|By Chris Simpson
Photo by Daniel Istvanko.

Northeastern Tennessee boasts beautiful, remote and ecologically important natural landscapes. It’s here we purchased over 14,700 acres of forests, gorges, cliffs, waterfalls and caves in 2017 and have been working with the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) to protect it since. Called Skinner Mountain Forest, this area provides critical habitat for animals and plants and upwards of 100 forestry-related jobs. Very few people know this area better than lifelong Tennessee resident and TWRA Biodiversity Coordinator Chris Simpson, who shares more about why protecting this “biological hotspot” is a highpoint in his nearly 30-year career.

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September 26, 2021|By Val Keefer
Perdido River. Photo by Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's Fish and Wildlife Research Institute/Flickr.

When you think about our country’s most important rivers, which come to mind? The Mississippi? Colorado? Rio Grande? Well, how about the Perdido River? This critical ecological resource, while lesser known, has an optimal environment for native species and direct connection to the greater Gulf of Mexico. Dividing Florida and Alabama, the Perdido River’s watershed supports water quality and flood prevention in both states AND has been designated worthy of special protections. This World Rivers Day, we want to recognize the Perdido River watershed and those who have worked strategically for decades to keep it protected.

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September 7, 2021|By Justin Spring
Photo by Todd Winslow Pierce.

Roughly one year after the passage of the Great American Outdoors Act, Colorado’s Sweetwater Lake demonstrates how important conservation funding is to protecting America’s favorite places.

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August 23, 2021|By Eric Wuestewald
Sabine Ranch. Photo by Shannon Tompkins.

When you think of marshlands, you may not think about Texas. But the Lone Star State is as deep as it is wide. Past the canyons and deserts and brushlands, about two hours east of Houston and not far from the Louisiana border, sits one of the most ecologically important pieces of land in the entire state. Not only is the area flush with over 400 species of migratory birds, it's also essential to helping Texas weather the brunt of catastrophic rain fall from hurricanes and climate change.

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August 20, 2021|By The Conservation Fund
Cowee Forest, Vermont. Photo by Jerry Monkman.

Climate change is—without question—the greatest global threat of our time. Findings from many studies, including the August 2021 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, emphasize that we are running out of time. In a recent op-ed published in The Hill, our CEO Larry Selzer urges collaboration and investment in large-scale forest conservation to combat climate change NOW.

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July 20, 2021|By The Conservation Fund
Photo by Steve Orr.

Mikki Sager’s impact on The Conservation Fund and the communities in North Carolina cannot be overstated. As she retires after three decades with us, we reflect on how her work with Resourceful Communities, a program she helped launch, has authentically woven social justice into our approach to conservation.

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July 12, 2021|By Kelsi Eccles
Photo credit: Kelsi Eccles

Earlier this year the Urban Food Forest at Browns Mill captivated a global audience around the idea of a free food forest built to address food access and health issues for residents in the community. Sitting just a few miles south of Atlanta’s city center, the Browns Mill community has historically struggled to get access to fresh fruits and vegetables. The food forest now provides many of those residents with fresh healthy food, greenspace, and educational and workforce opportunities.

We spoke with Celeste Lomax, Food Forest Steward and owner of Celestial Care Solutions, about why this greenspace is so important, what it means to provide fresh produce and holistic care for her community and what other urban conservation organizations can learn from her success.

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July 6, 2021|By Val Keefer
Grizzly bear in Montana. Photo courtesy of Debs via flickr.

Although they’ve been on the endangered species list for decades, grizzly bears have always found refuge on Montana’s Rocky Mountain Front—a pristine landscape made up of mostly private ranchlands. Today, these ranchers and their woolly tenants aim to successfully co-exist.

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July 1, 2021|By The Conservation Fund
Photo by Jay Brittain.

The Conservation Fund’s annual report highlights our work at its best—innovative, solution-oriented and committed to addressing America’s most pressing conservation challenges. In 2020, we delivered on our commitment to create a better and more sustainable future for all Americans despite formidable challenges.  

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June 14, 2021|By The Conservation Fund
Photo courtesy Venture Out Project.

During the month of June, celebrations of LGBTQ+ Pride fill cities and towns across the country. Beyond the rainbow flags and festivities, it is important to recognize the history of how and why Pride month exists. We are sharing this history and spotlighting organizations working to ensure nature is an equitable, welcoming place for all because we too share that hope.

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June 3, 2021|By Phillip Howard

Recently designated one of America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, three campsites in Alabama not only tell the story of those who made the dangerous march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama in 1965, but of those who took great risk to provide the marchers with shelter and safety.

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May 24, 2021|By Eric Wuestewald
Photo courtesy of Volkswagen.

As part of our partnership with Volkswagen of America to award selected Tennessee nonprofit organizations with grants to enhance community and environmental goals, we also unveiled a unique mural in downtown Chattanooga by artist Steffi Lynn. The expansive artwork proudly borrows from the Tennessee landscape and serves as a reminder to care for the environment by proudly proclaiming “Change Starts in Your Own Backyard.” We sat down with Steffi to learn about her process, how she finds inspiration in nature, and why the mural’s message is important to her. Read on to learn more.

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May 17, 2021|By Kurt Ikeda
Photo by Richard Alan Hannon.

Minidoka National Historic Site in Idaho protects the history and land where over 13,000 Japanese Americans were forcibly incarcerated during World War II. Minidoka’s story of racial prejudice and civil rights violations presents many relevant lessons for our current moment in history. Learn more from Kurt Ikeda, acting Chief of Interpretation and Education at Minidoka, who has both personal and professional connections to this tragic legacy that must not be forgotten. 

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May 13, 2021|By Will Allen
Photo by Stacy Funderburke.

As a follow up to the Executive Order to commit to conserving at least 30% of our lands and waters by the year 2030, the Biden Administration released the preliminary report of the National Climate Task Force entitled “Conserving and Restoring America the Beautiful,” which recommends a ten-year campaign to conserve and restore lands in the U.S. Will Allen, a Senior Vice President of The Conservation Fund, discusses how this campaign shapes the nation’s conservation priorities and how the Land and Water Conservation Fund and Great American Outdoors Act remain key to implementation.

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