Balancing Nature and Commerce supports gateway communities and their partners in rising to the challenges brought by their public asset proximity, building on the opportunities created by the confluence of resources, developing conservation leaders, and fostering economic opportunity that will generate lasting health for people and place. Working toward healthy natural and cultural resources, diverse recreation assets, accessibility as a foundation, and revitalized main streets and downtowns, Balancing Nature and Commerce brings new and evolving data, concepts and practices to communities, and enhances capacity and partnership building to facilitate implementation.


Balancing Nature and Commerce serves gateway communities, and nests within multiple initiatives of The Conservation Fund that boost community prosperity and help build vibrant communities that care for people, places and resources.


Gateway communities are the places where one can see and feel public lands and waters, and the community invests to enable meaningful connections. Resources and assets are connected to community with intentionality, driving positive outcomes. Gateway communities are welcoming and accessible, providing assets and amenities, programming and interpretation, and visitors services that collectively create quality experiences for community members and travelers, bolstering those experiences with marketing, communications, capacity and support.


In gateway communities it is critical to cultivate desired outcomes in place of uncontrolled and negative outcomes through intention, partnership, and adaptation. Significant benefit to the community and travelers can be realized in economic opportunity, education, equity, health, and stewardship of resources through purpose-driven and collaborative action. Successful gateway communities share their stories in authentic and meaningful ways, connecting people to natural resources, history, recreation, arts and culture, and doing so in ways that economically lift towns and regions.



National and place-based workshops convene community-based teams to focus intensively on the challenges and opportunities of being a gateway community, working through asset identification and action plan development. View our upcoming course page for a national or geography-based workshop or contact us for discussion of a place-based workshop unique to your community or region.


BNC National and Place-Based Workshops

Since 1998, The Conservation Fund has called together communities from across the nation to address challenges and opportunities and build conservation leaders.


Appalachian Gateway Community Initiative

Partnering with the Appalachian Regional Commission and National Endowment for the Arts, The Conservation Fund has convened multiple workshops as the cornerstone of the Appalachian Gateway Community Initiative (AGCI), targeted to gateway communities in the Appalachian Region.


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Technical Assistance

Through extended, place-based collaborative projects, The Conservation Fund has advanced asset-based initiatives in gateway communities across the nation. Contact us for a discussion of a place-based initiative unique to your community or region.


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Check out all of Our Projects to see the diversity of our Balancing Nature and Commerce Program and how it has helped communities thrive.