The Conservation Lands Foundation doesn’t just work towards conservation, we achieve it! Following are some highlights of our accomplishments:
New addition to the National Conservation Lands: Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument
President Obama designated the 496,330-acre Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument in southern New Mexico on Wednesday, May 21, 2014. The addition of the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument to the National Conservation Lands protects the crossroads of New Mexican and American history, and is an important step towards honoring our country’s diverse heritage while protecting open space important for hunting and outdoor recreation.
The designation came in response to overwhelming input and support from the local community frustrated by years of inaction by Congress to protect the cultural and natural heritage of Dona Ana County. Support came from many voices: Native American leaders including the All Pueblo Governors Council, the New Mexico and National League of United Latin American Citizens, the New Mexico and Las Cruces Green Chambers of Commerce, local ranchers, sportsmen, faith leaders, archaeologists, historians, numerous local elected leaders and Friends Grassroots Network member Friends of the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks.
As the second national monument established since President Obama’s commitment in his January 2014 State of the Union speech to “use my authority to protect more of our pristine federal lands for future generations,” the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks designation is a major step forward in President Obama’s emerging land conservation legacy.
President Obama’s tenth new national monument is his largest to date, and the fifth addition to the National Conservation Lands. It also continues the President’s track record of protecting lands that help to tell the story of all Americans, through a diverse and inclusive set of new national monuments. We are inspired by, and look forward to the Administration’s continued partnership with local communities to protect the most important of America’s public lands for future generations.
Fort Ord (CA), San Juan Islands (WA) and Rio Grande del Norte National Monuments (NM)
On April 20, 2012, President Obama designated Fort Ord National Monument in California to honor the contributions and sacrifices of our military, safeguard some of our country’s rarest wildlife and plants and provide world-class opportunities for recreation. In partnership with local organizations, the Conservation Lands Foundation guided this one-year campaign effort from start to finish, and its designation marked the first expansion of the National Conservation Lands since Congress made the system permanent in 2009.
Less than one year later, on March 25, 2013, President Obama again used the Antiquities Act to designated five new national monuments, with two of them being additions to the National Conservation Lands: San Juan Islands National Monument and the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument.
To gain these new national monuments, the Conservation Lands Foundation worked directly with local groups to help organize their communities. We connected advocates to the decision-makers at the White House and Department of the Interior. We convened diverse groups of stakeholders—elected officials and tribal leaders, businesses, veterans, outdoor recreationists, historians, and many others—to create unified and resounding voices for protection.
Three new additions to the National Conservation Lands in less than one year is a great achievement, and we are proud of our teamwork with local and national partners to make this happen.
Stronger Protections for the National Conservation Lands
When our organization was launched in 2007, the National Conservation Lands were in a very tenuous situation. This system of lands was not permanent and could be abolished by a future President with no formal process; it had no viable long-term strategic plan, and its proposed management and vision – outlined by Secretary Babbitt in 2000 – had not been formally adopted or implemented at the Washington or state levels of the Bureau of Land Management.
The Conservation Lands Foundation worked with partner organizations to make the National Conservation Lands permanently established by Congress. We then developed and advocated for a conservation focused management vision and needed policy changes for the National Conservation Lands. Responding to our ideas, advocacy and grassroots support, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar issued a Secretarial Order elevating the stature of the National Conservation Lands and improving their management. The BLM developed a solid strategic plan and revised their policies to better protect these lands.
Taken together, these changes place the National Conservation Lands on par with our nation’s National Parks and National Wildlife Refuges in terms of conservation standards and guaranteed land and wildlife protections.
A New Visual Identity for the National Conservation Lands
CLF partnered with the Bureau of Land Management to help them develop a consistent visual identity for the National Conservation Lands that will make this system of protected public lands better recognized and understood by the American public. We hired Interbrand, a renowned marketing and branding firm to help the BLM develop a “wordmark” (logo) for the National Conservation Lands.
The BLM recently implemented this new visual identity, which the public can see for the first time on the signs the BLM puts up for the San Juan Islands and Rio Grande del Norte National Monuments.
In Their Own Words: Friends Grassroots Network Success Stories (video)
Raising Awareness: America’s National Conservation Lands
Virtually all Americans and countless people throughout the world have heard of, understand and celebrate our National Parks. We want the same to be said of our National Conservation Lands. But National Parks have been around for 100 years, while the National Conservation Lands were only created just over a decade ago.
Since our founding in 2007, we have been communicating the values and beauty of the National Conservation Lands to the American people and beyond. Our outreach has resulted in hundreds of articles featuring the National Conservation Lands. We’ve generated stories in Parade Magazine, National Geographic, Condé Naste Traveler, and more.
Veterans-Youth Conservation Corps Partnership
Since our founding in 2007, the Conservation Lands Foundation has had great success in protecting and expanding the National Conservation Lands. The third part of our mission—the restoration of these great places—is now getting new focus and attention from our staff, board and funders. In December 2012, we were joined by nearly 100 supporters in Denver to kick off our new public-private collaboration that unites the BLM, conservation corps, private businesses and veterans groups to address the restoration needs of the National Conservation Lands. This partnership provides veterans and youth corps with employment and training opportunities working to restore and maintain the National Conservation Lands. Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper attended the event and addressed the guests. He said,
“When you take Colorado youth corps, tie them in with veterans, mix that with the Bureau of Land Management staff, then you begin to get a pretty rich soup. Mix in some private industry funders to provide resources or donations, add the Conservation Lands Foundation. Now it’s seasoned, now it’s got heat and energy.”
Royal Bank of Canada, with an office in Denver, became the first corporate partner to join that “heat and energy.” Their contribution has helped place the first Youth Corps crew on the ground in Colorado’s McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area, working to improve habitat on a stretch of the Colorado River. More projects are planned for areas in the National Conservation Lands in California, Nevada and Arizona.
Leadership for protecting important public lands in Alaska’s Western Arctic
The Conservation Lands Foundation worked hard in 2012 to ensure that the Obama administration moved forward with the strongest management plan possible for the 23-million acre National Petroleum Reserve – Alaska—the largest contiguous piece of public land in the U.S. On December 19, 2012, Secretary Salazar announced the final plan for the National Petroleum Reserve and it was a strong conservation plan.
The balanced approach protects roughly 11 million acres of the Reserve as “Special Areas,” of high ecological and subsistence values off limits to oil and gas drilling. These areas include the Utukok River Uplands, Teshekpuk Lake, the Colville River, Peard Bay and Kasegaluk Lagoon. The final plan was a great step forward in the effort to find a balanced approach toward conservation and oil and gas in Alaska’s North Slope.