July 1, 2021|By The Conservation Fund| Support our Efforts

Looking Back with Pride and Ahead with Determination

Last year was filled with unprecedented difficulties amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. And as we look back with pride on what was accomplished, we also pause to acknowledge the lives lost and forever changed.  

We are grateful to have been able to continue to do good work for our environment and for people by working on 138 projects in 31 states and conserving over 187,000 acres valued at more than $317 million. Beyond the numbers, last year emphasized the critical role nature plays in nearly every aspect of our lives. We continue to prioritize the most important conservation challenges and opportunities that will make a real difference on the ground and in people’s lives. We are pleased to share them with you in our 2020 Annual Report and in the highlights below: 



Investing in Forests to Fight Climate Change 

At The Conservation Fund, we are fast-tracking efforts to prevent forest loss by working with public, private and nonprofit partners to secure 5 million acres of at-risk forests across the country over the next 10-15 years. While we wait for the development of new technologies for carbon capture, we are investing in America’s forests as one of the best and cleanest ways to combat climate change right now.  

Chadbourne Tree Farm  
AR 2020 Blog ChadbournePhoto by EcoPhotography. 

Utilizing our Working Forest Fund, we acquired more than 15,000 acres of white pine forest in Maine from the Chadbourne family, whose forestry business dates back 12 generations. Once permanently conserved, this historic landscape and critical watershed will be protected from development, ensuring that both the climate-resilient wildlife habitat and the Chadbourne family’s legacy of responsible forestry will live on.

Minnesota’s Heritage Forest 
AR 2020 Blog Minnesota Heritage ForestPhoto by Jay Brittain. 

In 2020 we acquired 72,440 acres—in one of Minnesota’s largest private land conservation acquisitions in state history—and named it Minnesota’s Heritage Forest. The purchase buys time to develop permanent conservation strategies that will preserve the working forestland and safeguard jobs while benefiting our environment and mitigating climate change. Approximately 32,000 acres of the forest are within the reservation boundaries of two bands of the Minnesota Ojibwe (Chippewa) Tribe. As part of this work, we are dedicated to a future where they own critical sections of the land to sustainably manage for economic, cultural and environmental purposes. 

"This acquisition, specifically with The Conservation Fund, means so much to our community as it continues to build up our limited land base. Land acquisitions allow us to control our renewable resources such as fresh water, timber, wind, sun and any other resource that one will find within the exterior boundaries of our beautiful reservation.” 

― Joseph Fowler, Land Director, Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe 



Ensuring History Is Remembered and Communities Are Empowered 

The Conservation Fund is committed to protecting lands important to America’s history and ensuring healthy outdoor spaces in underserved communities. We are working to ensure that our projects are evaluated and implemented in a manner that prioritizes access and equity. 

Fort Blakeley 
AR 2020 Blog Fort BlakeleyPhoto by Keith West. 

One of the final Civil War battles was fought at Fort Blakeley in southern Alabama, where Confederate forces were resoundingly defeated by Union troops that included the highest concentration of U.S. Colored Troops in any one battle. Preserving the land where these soldiers fought honors their role in ending the war, while also expanding historical research opportunities and safeguarding one of Alabama’s most significantly endangered ecosystems. 

Marlborough Greenspace
 
AR 2020 Blog Marlborough ParkPhoto by Ivan LaBianca. 

In the Marlborough neighborhood of Kansas City, Missouri, The Conservation Fund partnered with several organizations and local stakeholders to turn a large wetland detention basin into a usable public greenspace that includes a playground, walking trail, recreational areas and native gardens—all designed with extensive input from community members. As one of the only publicly accessible natural spaces in the area, it provides residents with a new opportunity to connect with nature in a space that’s close to home during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.
  

“You can really see the impact this greenspace has on the community and how it is starting to bring about the change that I’d like to see—making Marlborough more family-centered. We are very appreciative of all the work The Conservation Fund and our partners have done to help get things moving forward for Marlborough, and we are looking forward to seeing what else we can continue to build.” 

― Jeff Primos, President, Marlborough Community Coalition 



Funding the Future of Conservation in America 

The Conservation Fund works strategically so that current and future generations will be able to connect with and benefit from the natural world even as populations grow, the climate changes and development expands. Our Revolving Fund flows in and out of projects every two years on average, and this continues in perpetuity—conserving acre after acre. Our innovative finance solutions set us apart from other environmental organizations. 

Grand Teton National Park
AR 2020 Blog Grand TetonPhoto by David Stubbs.  

We acquired a pristine 35-acre parcel of privately owned and unprotected land located at the south entrance of Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming using money from our Revolving Fund. This gave the National Park Service the time it needed to get Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) funding in hand, purchase the land from us, and officially add it to Grand Teton in 2020. This former inholding features a stunning view of the Teton Range and is an important corridor for the park’s diverse wildlife.  

Berg Bay

AR 2020 Blog Berg BayPhoto by Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve. 

Utilizing capital from our Revolving Fund, we purchased a 150-acre property within the borders of Glacier Bay National Park with pristine ecology and cultural value to the Tlingit people. Known as Berg Bay, this property is now officially part of Glacier Bay National Park after the National Park Service acquired from us it with LWCF funding in 2020. 

Navajo River Watershed
AR 2020 Blog Banded PeakPhoto by John Fielder. 

The Navajo River Watershed in southwest Colorado is comprised of nearly 65,000 acres of mountains, forests, and rivers spread over 10 privately held ranches. In 2020 the final piece of the Navajo River Watershed was protected through a conservation easement funded by LWCF and a private foundation. Now these lands remain as private working ranches that will never be fragmented by development. 

“There was always a community in the Navajo River Valley—the working ranchers, fourth and fifth generation families—and over time they bought into our wilderness preservation vision and became a part of it. We all left this place stronger than we found it.” 

– Tom Macy, The Conservation Fund’s Colorado Representative