Press Release – Royal Bank of Canada Donation for Colorado River Restoration

Bank Helps Launch Conservation Lands Foundation’s Youth Corps Partnership Project on America’s #1 Most Endangered River

April 24, 2013 –  The Conservation Lands Foundation is pleased to announce a new funding partnership in Colorado with Royal Bank of Canada (RBC). One of Canada’s largest corporate donors and contributors to charitable organizations worldwide, RBC’s $10,000 gift to the Conservation Lands Foundation will fund restoration work on the Colorado River in the McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area.

In April, the Colorado River was placed at the top of the 2013 List of America’s Most Endangered Rivers. Over-allocation of the river and drought has placed significant stress on water supplies, river health, and fish and wildlife in Colorado. Royal Bank of Canada’s donation supports on-the-ground work at the end of May to help restore the river.

The funding enables volunteer and paid crews to conduct an intensive project on the river as it flows through the McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area, part of the National Conservation Lands. The National Conservation Lands are a 28-million-acre system of protected lands in the west known for their culturally, ecologically and scientifically significant landscapes managed by the Bureau of Land Management. The Western Colorado Conservation Corps will collaborate with the Bureau of Land Management and community volunteer crews for a week of on-the-ground work to remove invasive tamarisk and Russian olive trees from the banks of the Colorado River. These deep-rooted plants obtain water from permanent ground supplies or from the water table, and present a threat to the river’s water supply that is needed by native flora and fauna as well as by the river’s water recreation users.

Volunteers will also remove Russian knapweed, and plant and protect native Freemont cottonwoods and coyote willow. The re-introduction of these native species will enhance wildlife habitat, help rehabilitate the river corridor and improve water quality.

The gift is part of RBC’s “Blue Water Project,” launched in 2007. The Blue Water Project is a wide-ranging, multi-year program to help foster a culture of water stewardship in Canada and abroad. RBC has committed in excess of $36 million to more than 500 organizations for awareness, education and on-the-ground programs that protect watersheds and ensure access to clean drinking water.

“We are extremely grateful to RBC for helping us put ‘boots on the ground’ in Colorado,” said Brian O’Donnell, executive director of the Conservation Lands Foundation. “McInnis Canyons and the Colorado River are cornerstones of the National Conservation Lands and important to so many people. RBC’s gift has given this partnership and river an important boost.”

The funding supports the first project by a new Veterans-Youth Conservation Corps Partnership initiated by the Conservation Lands Foundation last the fall aimed at enhancing water quality, wildlife habitat and creating jobs on National Conservation Lands. The partnership is a unique collaboration of private funders, youth conservation corps, veterans and community volunteers.

“The Royal Bank of Canada’s donation allows Colorado youth corps to provide a lifeline to one of the American West’s most precious resources: the Colorado River,” said Jennifer Freeman, executive director of the Colorado Youth Corps Association, a coalition of accredited, statewide youth conservation corps.

“This gift is a testament not only to the importance of river restoration in our state, but also speaks to the hard work and proven abilities of young people to protect our natural resources. We extend a hearty thanks to Royal Bank of Canada for its generosity.”

“From trail construction to invasive species removal, youth corps crews play a vital role in public lands management in Colorado,” said Helen Hankins, BLM Colorado State Director. “We truly appreciate the collaboration between the Conservation Lands Foundation, the Royal Bank of Canada and the Colorado Youth Corps Association as their efforts expand our capabilities while creating employment opportunities for youth.”

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