Increasing Ready Capital to Our Revolving Fund
A reliable solution
Established in 1986, by Pat Noonan, Rich Erdmann, KiKu Hanes and other key founders, our Revolving Fund is a financial mechanism that provides this ready capital for acquisition of lands and waters of high conservation value. Dollars are continually in use for conservation. When the agencies receive the federal funding, they buy the land back from us allowing us to “revolve” the funds into the next critical project.
Dollars in motion
Every dollar in the Revolving Fund is invested in land conservation at least twice every five years. Since The Conservation Fund began buying land, we have leveraged the Revolving Fund with more than $2.5 billion from other public and private sources.
Now at full capacity
Since passage of the Great American Outdoors Act in 2020 which granted full and permanent funding to the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), the nation’s leading conservation program, our Revolving Fund capital has been operating at nearly full capacity. As a result, we cannot significantly increase our land protection efforts even though the agencies are asking us to do more. Without securing additional capital in the Revolving Fund, we will not be able to provide the essential bridge funding to our public agency partners and important properties are at risk of being lost. This is why we launched the Great American Outdoors Fund.
What are the goals of the Great American Outdoors Fund?
The Great American Outdoors Fund will add $50 million to protect an additional one million acres of land. We will focus on the following priorities:
1. Protecting and restoring lands and waters, such as forests and wetlands, that will increase the Nation’s resilience to CLIMATE CHANGE.
2. Protecting NATURAL and CULTURAL HERITAGE sites significant to Black, Indigenous and other people of color (BIPOC).
3. Protecting WILDLIFE HABITAT so that species can thrive in their natural environment.
4. Strengthening America’s URBAN and RURAL ECONOMIES by protecting natural and cultural resources critical to human health and economic opportunity.
5. Creating permanent OUTDOOR RECREATION opportunities by protecting vital landscapes and increasing access to them.
Examples of what could have been lost without Revolving Fund capital at the ready:
A TREASURED HISTORY FOREVER SAFE AT WEROWOCOMOCO VIRGINIA
Of the many adventures documented by English explorer Captain John Smith, perhaps none is more legendary than his meeting Pocahontas. Nearly lost from the annals of history is the village where they met.
Werowocomoco was the headquarters of Chief Powhatan, Pocahontas’ father, who ruled over 30 Native American tribes and controlled over 10,000 square miles of what is now southeastern Virginia. For centuries this likely birthplace of Pocahontas has been one of the most debated and sought-after historic sites in the country.
In collaboration with native tribes and landowners, archaeologists confirmed the location of the lost Native American village. The Conservation Fund purchased the 264-acre site as the first land acquisition for the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail—funding from the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund was critical.
Why This Project Matters
We stepped in to provide the capital needed to purchase Werowocomoco from the current landowner when they were ready to sell, then transferred it to the National Park Service. Our Revolving Fund played a vital role in saving this site—keeping it forever safe from development.
SWIFT ACTION PROTECTS COLORADO’S PRISTINE SWEETWATER LAKE
Sweetwater Lake has an eclectic history. Nearly 100 years ago, Louis “Diamond Jack” Alteri, a gangster who would later have ties to Al Capone, fled to the picturesque lake to evade authorities and rival gangsters. Since then, subsequent owners have attempted to develop the area with a large-scale resort including housing units, a hotel and a golf course, and even create a bottled water facility that would siphon water from one of its springs. The local community and the U.S. Forest Service long wanted to see Sweetwater Lake preserved and open to the public but couldn’t compete with bids from developers and investors.
The Conservation Fund was able to secure a contract to purchase the property when it came on the market. This was a critical first step towards protection. With strong grassroots support, we worked with the Eagle Valley Land Trust to secure funding from a coalition of partners, including Eagle County and Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO). State and local funds leveraged the significant funding needed from the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund which ultimately allowed us to transfer the property to the U.S. Forest Service for inclusion in the White River National Forest in 2021. White River National Forest is the most visited national forest in the country, and home to the popular ski areas of Vail, Aspen and Breckenridge.
Why This Project Matters
Now complete, this pristine 488-acre property is open for public recreation, including fishing, horseback riding, boating and camping, and will increase access to recreation areas like Flat Tops Wilderness, the Ute Indian Cave and the Ute-Sweetwater Trail. Critical habitat for elk, deer, osprey, bald eagles, and other wildlife, as well as an important component of the Upper Colorado River watershed are forever safe from development.
“We’re grateful to have the opportunity to help make Sweetwater Lake and the surrounding site amenities available to our children, grandchildren and others who visit this beautiful area. It is not too often that an opportunity like this exists to truly have an impact on the power of the outdoors in people’s lives.”
—The Wiemer Family (dedicated to Randy Wiemer, lover of Sweetwater Lake)