Protecting natural systems, their habitat and biodiversity, is the best strategy we have of building a future society that continues prosperously in an uncertain global climate. Our single paradigm should focus on striking a balance between natural resource extraction and replenishment, between restoration and replenishment.

A New Vision for Restoring the Hetch Hetchy Valley

The following presentation was made at the Restore Hetch Hetchy fundraising event at the Berkeley City Club on Saturday, March 17th, 2018 by Obi Kaufmann:

Making good sense of anything in these long days of miasmic political gridlock seems Herculean, or maybe Sisyphean – pick your ancient myth, or more probably in this crowd, your tragedy. The compass spins and any orientation to such basic civic discourse about what is reasonable? What is compassionate? What is ethical? is lost to the ceaseless torpor of argument. We are gathered here tonight to support RESTORE HETCH HETCHY, and I believe with all my heart that this project is the jewel in the crown of a new majestic day for California – the bravest opportunity to present to the whole world the gift of an emancipated Hetch Hetchy as a symbol of who we are, as Californians, and in our most solemn posture to present a unity of identity – one that understands that all the rights we enjoy are met with equal responsibilities. Despite the daily tweeting of old hearted, corporate mouth pieces who sow conflict, we continue our march toward a new reality. A reality whereby putting aside some indulgences of consumerist modernity, with its artificial contrivances of the red versus blue disparity, and we take to investing in great acts of restoration, we will continue our state’s legacy of standing up for what is right and in doing what just makes plain, good sense.

In truth, this obfuscating cloud that spews from professional politics and media punditry is something that we’ve all been sold, and we have all willingly bought. Those who continue to sell us that refrain of endless calamity and unrest are beginning to make some unwise moves in their game against us in their drive for endless profit. An almost seismic event has occurred and continues its up thrust right now through the bedrock of what it is to be a Californian, today, in the last days of winter, 2018. Like the Sierra Nevada and its 200-million-year quest skyward to wrestle its westward slope into an isolated paradise, a move that set California toward its own evolution of endemic identity, we are taking back what it is to be unified as Californians. I’ve been on book tour for the past six months and I’ve seen it from San Diego, to Fresno, to Quincy, to Arcata – we are waking up to the responsibilities that complement every single right that we enjoy, living in this, the most beautiful of all the world’s corners.

The California Field Atlas, my first major publication, has now sat in the number one bestseller position for paperback nonfiction across Northern California for ten weeks. In this reference book of several hundred of my hand-painted maps of the what I call the living networks of earth, air, fire and water, I present an inventory of conservation based on my five decades of hiking, dreaming, sweating, loving, and living in the state of my birth. If I could draw a hundred maps a day of California for the rest of my life, I would still be unable to tell the whole story that I want to tell, I could not sing all of California’s song of glory. I will go as far as I can: I’ve just signed into contract with HEYDAY books for the making of three more Field Atlases, to be called the California Lands Trilogy – the Forests of California will be here in the Fall of 2019 and then the Coasts of California and lastly the Desert of California will come a year after. Before I could get to those books, books that will go into unprecedented detail about the natural world of California – where it has been, where it continues, and where it will always be despite our successfully implemented, urban and agricultural veneer – I had a fourth book in me that needed to come out first: THE STATE OF WATER – a conservation Field Atlas to California’s most precious resource, and it will come out next spring.

I needed to get this book out first because 1) I needed to get it right in my mind and heart and 2) the world of California water deserves a new manifesto; how humans use California water can be terribly confusing as it exists in a labyrinth of convoluted allocations that are certainly, intentionally circuitous. I madly took it on myself to present a democratized reference book for the lay-person. I was talking with my editor about the book the other day, when we decided that it would come out next spring, and he suggested that I might need amend it, given how quickly the news changes these days. I told him that I am not going to need to – for those of us who study California water and California climate, and as it is, the idea behind my pending book: the next one hundred years are going to go one way and new water projects (of which we’ve got four proposed: 1. The Sites Project in the Sacramento Valley’s northwest corner 2. The Millennium Dam on the overtaxed Bear River 3. Temperance Flat on the San Joaquin and 4. The Governor’s so-called Water Fix – the Delta tunnels, or tunnel as it stands now) are not going to help. With one time-tested concept, we can enjoy the three pillars of water use (1. Agricultural, 2. Municipal and 3. Environmental) in this state long into the future – that concept is conservation. In THE STATE OF WATER, I take the seven key examples of how we have divvied California’s waterscape, how we dole it out, and even suggest a moderate plan for working it into a more efficient version of itself to better serve 22nd century needs.

Number one, I discuss the remove of the four dams on the Klamath river and its implications toward the recovery of our salmon populations. Number two, I discuss the Sacramento River, the dangerous, aging infrastructure of its tributaries and how an illegal move to raise the Shasta Dam by 18 feet should be met with fierce resistance. Number three, I discuss the San Joaquin River Restoration Project and how because of its efforts, we witnessed spring run Chinook Salmon spawn south of Friant dam for the first time in 60 years. Number four, I discuss the State water and the Central Valley projects as a networked system, who uses it and how we might be able to trim several million-acre feet from its per annum usage based on conservation technologies and practices. Number five, I discuss the Colorado River and the playground policies that govern its straggled and diminishing flow. Number six, I call the Salton Sea our State’s number one mess – our single most costly and important remediation emergency. And then number seven, unique in all the history of California Water, I call for the restoration of Hetch Hetchy Valley as the most symbolically important restoration project on the table today.

I foresee O’Shaughnessy Dam breached in my lifetime. I see San Franciscans embracing the water security offered by an already augmented San Pedro Dam, while rejecting the modicum of power offered by the three existing powerhouses upriver from San Pedro as falsely green as they have already been rejected as being ineligible for Governor Brown’s 2045 clean power mandate. I see San Francisco reclaiming its title, its identity as a truly green city, perhaps the first, historically self-identified green city, by throwing off this hypocrisy that it has lazily enjoyed for so long. I see the National Park Service supporting a no-brainer investment towards a pending windfall with this now uncovered treasure. Most importantly, in the restoration of Hetch Hetchy, I see the exciting work of hope kindled in a citizenry unafraid and un-shy to take back its legacy, uniting in a single voice to this keystone moment, indicative even of greater things to come.

I told my editor when we were talking about the book that one of the reasons that within two years, we won’t need a new amendment to the factual statements in the book, I thought of two metaphors – 1) that constantly paying mind to the deafening cycles of media news is akin to listening to the chatter of termites, behavior that might drive the bear mad were she not able to get to them. And 2) that we are talking about moving rivers – deep, long-cut entrenchments in the most incalcitrant landscapes of our society, and moving rivers takes time. One day you find that your maps are outdated, that public paradigms have pushed the old fences out to disfunction and we are then made free to enjoy the new freedoms of a restored landscape, both inner and outer, towards our relationship with each other, with the land and towards both the past and the future.

It is going to take a lot of work, but we are Californians and we are not afraid of work. I would like to offer one last metaphor before my parting words and I would like to offer it as a toast. Please raise you glass. Reaching the top of the mountain is a mixed victory, from up here we can see how far we have come, and yet we can also see how far we have to go. To all the mountain tops. Cheers.

I will leave you tonight with a brief poem I wrote backpacking the high country in Yosemite last year. I post a poem nearly every day, along with a painting or a picture of the landscape that I am in at COYOTETHUNDER on instagram.

It has been a hundred years that my heart was buried in the still water. Every evening at sunset I see a thousand cranes rise from the reservoir and on their wings, the valley empties. In the morning, the bear’s dream of their return with sapphire eyes uncut on salmon’s tooth. In a thousand years, the liquid granite will begin to forget the thirst stains marring the holy bowl across the outstretched song of the river, beneath the arboreal pulse of the restored place that was meant for sky, not flood.

Restore Hetch Hetchy, painted by Obi Kaufmann

Protecting the California Desert /// ANZA BORREGO DESERT STATE PARK

(note: below is an exerpt I gave to the ANZA BORREGO FOUNDATION gathering on March 3rd, 2018 in Borrego Springs, California. Scroll past that to read the transcript of my interview with KPBS in San Diego, regarding my visit to the desert and the California Field Atlas -Obi Kaufmann)

Obi Kaufmann on stage in Borrego Springs, March 2018
    • 1. Touching the sun in green and gold across the perfect angle of the creeping bajada on its one hundred thousandth birthday, with the equally ancient ocotillo-spire forest on its back, where all things move slow and even the crows hold a Pleistocene countenance.
  • Rain falling on the San Ysidro Mountains, Anza Borrego, spring 2018

    2. I feel returned to an older, more-quiet version of the human that is me. All the trapping saturations of my digital life desiccate quickly in the protected wind. I can hear what can be called the voice of ancestors – the gleaning of the human time-scale brushing against the geologic.

  • Poster, designed by Obi Kaufmann, now available at the Anza Borrego Foundation website,

    3. We carry into our future, after a century and a half in this place at least as many responsibilities as we do rights. This is our charge. We have the right to extract, but we have the responsibility to replenish. We have the right to develop, but we have the responsibility to restore. We have the right to occupy, but we have the responsibility to set aside. Stewardship is the active management of leaving the more-than-human world to its own functioning device.

    dawn across the Borrego Valley, San Diego county.

    4. The parade of challenges before us and this desert, from within and without is an easy course in despair. Indulging in such postures is not our luxury. Whether addressing a shrinking water table, water policy and conveyance itself, cripplingly expensive environmental remediation – tended to or not, or the machinations of bullying politicians and business men forwarding ecologically costly agendas, we shall push back, we shall abide. We shall do so because everywhere here we see treasure – its value glints off every, yellow creosote flower and in the wealth of distant coyote song that we hold in our walking bones. In its unlimited grace, the Sonora welcomes our respect and we have the right to protect the desert and we have the responsibility to protect the desert.

    Grapevine Canyon, Anza Borrego Desert State Park

    5. It was 11,000 years ago today that we killed the last mammoth and at that point, the 6th extinction (a planetary event caused by the coming of the modern homo sapiens) had been underway for 50,000 years. But now that all the systems associated with exponential population growth are beginning to exhibit bacterial patterns, we still hold our mammalian core and the philosophical apotheosis of that rise from consciousness, is choice. Here today and every day, we pledge to choose to protect and preserve and to restore these unbroken moments in our legacy landscape; we acknowledge that resource stores of endemic biodiversity, like the Colorado desert, deserve the greatest protection we can afford because this is our best bet – we have a real chance to do so, of leaving the 21st century in better shape than we left the 20th.

    Obi Kaufmann at Yaqui Pass

    6. If this is our age, let’s pull together our tools and our trust to make it grand enough, inclusive enough and resilient enough to hold, maintain and provide for our continued human residency for another ten-thousand years. Let’s allow our conversation to flow down that river in common praise for the California Floristic Province and at the confluence, welcome all wise and productive input, because the future is just as beautiful as we want it to be and our grandchildren’s grandchildren will thank us for the loving and trusting vision. <—>


February 28, 2018 4:36 p.m.

‘The California Field Atlas’ Is A Love Story To The State


Obi Kaufmann, author and illustrator, “The California Field Atlas”

Related Story: ‘The California Field Atlas’ Is A Love Story To The State


This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors. To listen to the interview, link here. 

Maureen >> This is KPBS Midday Edition, I am Maureen Cavanaugh. It took a lifetime of traveling, camping, climbing, hiking, and loving California, to produce a comprehensive and amazing field guide to the state, it provides a wealth of information, as varied as maps of rivers and trails, geological faults, and mount line habitat, in addition to the facts and figures, it offers original sketches and watercolors on every page. It is called a love story, by the author, Obi Kaufman, author of the California field Atlas. Welcome.

Obi > Thank you.

Maureen >> At the beginning, you caution this is generally not able to sit down with and read, so how should it be used?

Obi > I would love if people would try to do that, but it is a very special person that is going to read this book from cover to cover, it is a reference manual, that I hope, I believe now, is unique. In that it is a field Atlas, which is the genre that I made up to describe a larger character of California, the natural world of California, that has always been here, continues to persist, and will always persist despite the veneer that we have imposed on California over the natural world, so successfully in the 21st century.

Maureen >> How would you describe the California field Atlas?

Obi > The first thing that you will notice probably as opposed to other atlases, there are no roads. I don’t draw a single row to my Atlas, that is because it doesn’t really fit the story. A road is just the shortest length between some human point a and human point be, right? — Human point A, and human point B, right? A watercourse, natural contours, there is a story there that is much more interesting. This Atlas is not going to help you if you are lost in the woods, either, that is not what this is about, this is about describing the larger natural forces in California, how they work across the state, and that is why it is divided up, the first few chapters, between earth, air, fire and water, the big orienting and shaping forces that I’m looking to describe.

Maureen >> Do you think most Californians realize how diverse the state is in terms of wildlife and landscape?

Obi > I think they do, or their waking up to it, I’ve been unable to her for for five months, what I’m seeing from Crescent City to San Diego and back, this electric network of people of people who are ready for this nature first kind of narrative, I think that is so inspiring, to me, almost as if we are yearning to be counted as part of California’s people as if we want to stand up and say, we belong to this land, it does not belong to us, it is almost like a paradigm shift, and I’m happy to see unfolding.

Maureen >> I am told that the state park holds a special place for you?

Obi > It does, I spent the first two years of my life in Los Angeles, my family would take me to the state park, the largest daypart, in what is generally referred to as the low desert, Colorado desert, and the Sonora desert, as opposed to the high desert, like the Mohave, Joshua tree, so different character, it is a beautiful character, when you think of the superlative that it offers, my own personal story, the wild flower blooming, taking off again now, and the bighorn sheep, small population hanging in there, the last population count, and the desert, Palm Springs themselves, that.the canyons up into and across the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, these oases, offering a habitat to an amazing and diverse portfolio of birds, mammals and flowers, implants, you would be surprised, most people think of it as a desolate place, but the desert spring is just so alive with an amazingly complex portfolio of biodiversity.

Maureen >> What kind of challenges do you see the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park facing?

Obi > We have conservation challenges coming from within and without, meaning that we have human challenges, namely political challenges, most notably probably the wall, which comes into and out of existence, I think, at least as far as the planning process goes, the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park shares a border with Mexico, and we know that if this wall actually happens, between the U.S. and Mexico, that it will spell the end of the bighorn sheep, for whom the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park is named, they routinely cross the border on regular annual migration, and that would be a catastrophe. And we also have the problems of climate change and human induced inflection upon the water table underneath the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, on the surface, a very arid place, but just as recently as 100 years ago, if you were to dig a well, you would find the water table about 15 to 20 feet under the ground, a lot of water, now you have to go upwards of 200 feet down to find any water, so we have yet to see how this is going to affect the desert palm oases that I was talking about before. But they will be affected in the future, and what we need to do is we need to think of agriculture differently in the farrago Valley, — Barrego Valley, as we consider the options to make it happen to revivify the desert, and do it for generations to come.

Maureen >> As the author of the California field Atlas, where would you suggest residence, have not explored the area much, where would you say they should begin?

Obi > Such a wealth and diversity of natural landscapes to explore, if you haven’t yet, go north of the city, to the Torrey Pine reserve, which is perhaps the most where pine tree in the world, it is yours to protect, the only grow on the bluff on the coast, and to ponder the rarity and specialness of that pine tree, in that landscape is a wonder. I would also recommend if you’re looking for something a little bit more of interest, check out Palomar, into the national force there, the oak, white sage, landscape, up there, is really unique, and really represents this sort of mountainous border zone between what might be called a Mexican landscape or even a Northern California landscape, it is much different than the San Gabriel range, up north, you have some very interesting peninsular ranges down there, you settle into the Sonora desert. So your whole county is littered with the best, most beautiful, robust, adventure possibilities. Go out and check it out.

Maureen >> Author and illustrator, Obi Kaufmann, will be speaking about his book, the California field Atlas, at a series of events, including at the Borrego Springs next week.

Obi > See you out in the wild.


to order a signed copy of the California Field Atlas directly from the author, go to and follow Obi’s adventures on instagram @coyotethunder

Land Trusts in California – The way forward in land conservation

Land Trusts: The way forward in Land Conservation in California

By Obi Kaufmann

There is beauty in the Land Trust model. When arguably most of the overall environmental movement has stalled over the past twenty-five years or so since the movement was polarized on a national, political level, the Land Trust movement has steadily grown in popularity and effectiveness. When at the beginning of the 1990’s, there were only a handful of Land Trusts operating across America, there are now over 1,700, of which 60% operate on the all-volunteer business model. The secret to its success is the innovative mix of private and public values, having equal appeal to both conservatives and liberals; a solution based on a legal agreement known as the conservation easement, which now almost two decades into the twenty-first century, seems like the best model going forward in the overarching land-conservation movement.

Land conservation is the permanent protection by legal recourse of the natural, scenic, agricultural, historical, forested or open space character of a property or parcel of land. The Land Trust movement uses language that is inclusive and appeals to a general sense of hope and connection to a place, of restoration and stewardship, of local, community-based action. There are no limitations on the type of land can be conserved by land trusts – it may be in dense urban settings, remote rural lands or anywhere in between, and may include the water rights. Many landowners take steps to responsibly steward their land although their work can be undone by a subsequent owner or by condemnation by a public agency who wants to use the land for other purposes. The term “land conservation” is commonly used to distinguish those specific actions that provide legal protections so that the resources are not damaged or lost to future actions. These legal protections will endure beyond any single landowner. Land can be conserved in several different ways.  The method used is determined by the conservation goals for the property, the landowner’s preferences, and available funding.  The two most common methods is that the property is conveyed in its entirety, as in all the rights of the property are bought outright (“fee title”) to a land trust or public agency, or the second method, a conservation easement is conveyed to a land trust or public agency.

Conservation Easements

In California, the fee title or the conservation easement is often sold so that the landowner receives funds, but fee title and easements can also be donated for significant tax benefits. A variety of financial options and tax incentives can help landowners achieve their conservation goals. In addition to income and, in many cases, property tax benefits, conservation easements can significantly lower estate taxes sometimes allowing heirs to keep the land rather than having to sell it. Land owners receive a tax deduction equal to the appraised value of the easement.

A conservation easement is a legal agreement between a landowner and a Land Trust.  Land Trusts are qualified nonprofit organizations set up specifically to conserve land and hold conservation easements.  The Land Trust primary role in this regard is to ensure that the terms of the easement are upheld.  This is usually done via annual monitoring visits to each easement by trained volunteer monitors.  Landowners typically manage and maintain the property, though the Land Trust can assist with projects or information that benefit or improve its conservation values.

As you investigate the Land Trusts across California and West, it might seem like a smattering of parcels, dots here that don’t represent big gains in land protection – like the chunk of land a large National Monument might represent. I encourage you to look at the bigger picture of connectivity between these spaces and how that it can represent a large network of land and habitat bridges for posterity, for biodiversity and for the whole host of inclusive reasons we are drawn to care about and for the places we love. As you get set to make your year end donations, please consider your local land trust, there is probably one taking care of a property you care about near you right now.

Note: this is a partial list of Land Trusts in California – groups I’ve worked with individually. If you would like to alert me to a Land Trust organization that I’ve missed, please email me at, and follow me on Instagram @coyotethunder. -Obi

A Land Trust Guide for Land Owners:

Land Conservation Assistance Network

For networking information about the National Land Trust System:

Land Trust Alliance

Trust for Public Land (Sacramento)

The Wilderness Land Trusts

California Council of Land Trusts

Summary of Land Trusts featured below

  1. Anderson Valley Land Trust (Boonville/Mendocino County)
  2. Back Country Land Trust (Alpine/San Diego County)
  3. Bear Yuba Land Trust (Grass Valley/Nevada County)
  4. Big Sur Land Trust (Big Sur/Monterey County)
  5. Bodega Land Trust (Bodega/Sonoma County)
  6. California Rangeland Trust (Sacramento)
  7. Center for Natural Lands Management (Temecula)
  8. Columbia Land Trust (Portland, OR)
  9. Feather River Land Trust (Quincy)
  10. Lake County Land Trust (Lakeport)
  11. Land Trust for Santa Barbara County (Santa Barbara)
  12. Land Trust of Santa Cruz County (Santa Cruz)
  13. Lassen Land and Trails Trust (Susanville)
  14. Marin Agricultural Land Trust (Point Reyes Station)
  15. McKinleyville Land Trust (McKinleyville)
  16. Mendocino Land Trust (Mendocino)
  17. Mojave Desert Land Trust (Johsua Tree)
  18. Mother Lode Land Trust (Jackson)
  19. Mountains Restoration Trust (Calabasas)
  20. Muir Heritage Land Trust (Martinez)
  21. Nature Reserve of Orange County (Irvine)
  22. North Coast Regional Land Trust (Bayside)
  23. Northern California Regional Land Trust (Chico)
  24. Pacific Forest Trust (San Francisco)
  25. Peninsula Open Space Trust (Palo Alto)
  26. Sacramento Valley Conservancy (Sacramento)
  27. Sempervirens Fund (Los Altos) http://www,
  28. Sequoia Riverlands Trust (Visalia)
  29. Shasta Land Trust (Redding)
  30. Sierra Cascade Land Trust Council (Nevada City)
  31. Sierra County Land Trust (Sierra City)
  32. Sierra Foothill Conservancy (Mariposa)
  33. Siskiyou Land Trust (Mt. Shasta)
  34. Solano Land Trust (Fairfield)
  35. Sonoma Land Trust (Santa Rosa)
  36. Sutter Buttes Regional Land Trust (Yuba City)
  37. Tri Valley Conservancy (Livermore)
  38. Trinidad Coastal Land Trust (Trinidad)
  39. Truckee Donner Land Trust (Truckee)
  40. Yolo Land Trust (Woodland)

  1. Anderson Valley Land Trust (Boonville/Mendocino County)

Anderson Valley Land Trust (AVLT) is the only land trust that primarily focuses on Anderson Valley and the Navarro River Watershed. AVLT currently holds 26 easements. As of 2012, AVLT has joined with landowners to protect more than 2,200 acres of forests, riparian areas, agricultural land, oak woodlands, meadows, and views in Anderson Valley.  Some of the acreage will be “forever wild,” where natural processes are paramount. Others have been designated as working forest or as agricultural land that will be managed using sustainable practices. Each easement is individually tailored to the property’s conservation values and the landowner’s needs and vision.

  1. Back Country Land Trust (Alpine/San Diego County)

The Back Country Land Trust (BCLT) began saving land in Descanso, CA. Charged with preserving Robert’s Ranch from development, the land trust successfully lobbied the United States Congress for federal Land and Water Conservation Funding for the 750 acres. The BCLT has also participated in the protection of 2,600 acres, working with Pronatura, San Diego State University, and the International Community Foundation to protect watershed lands in Tecate. Now the focus is on gathering the final funding to forever protect Wrights Field, a 230-acre nature reserve in Alpine, California. The BCLT organizes native habitat restoration projects across the region, including the removal Arundo, an invasive giant cane that chokes creeks and pushes out native ecologies.

  1. Bear Yuba Land Trust (Grass Valley/Nevada County)

Nevada County Land Trust was born in 1990 when a small, diverse group of concerned citizens came together to preserve local farms, ranches, meadows and forests while recognizing that smart growth was important to the economic viability of the region. In 2011, Nevada County Land Trust became Bear Yuba Land Trust, bringing greater awareness to 9,000 acres protected within two watersheds spanning an area that begins in the lower elevation foothills and stretches to the high mountains of the Sierra Nevada.

  1. Big Sur Land Trust (Big Sur/Monterey County)

Big Sur Land Trust (BSLT) is a non-profit organization with a mission to inspire love of land and conservation of our treasured landscapes. Since 1978, BSLT has conserved over 40,000 acres throughout Monterey County. BSLT works in coastal, inland, remote and urban open spaces – increasing access to public parklands and ensuring the long-term viability of working landscapes and significant habitats throughout Monterey County.

  1. Bodega Land Trust (Bodega/Sonoma County)

Bodega Land Trust is currently proceeding with a conservation easement to protect nearly one and a half square miles of this critical ranch land, securing in perpetuity the ridge tops, streams, and redwood forests. Bodega Land Trust will monitor the easement, and work with lessees to establish and implement a management plan. Protection of this ranch will be an enormous step to joining nearby protected lands on the Estero Americano with the park lands along the Russian River and the coast, a bounty for generations to come.

  1. California Rangeland Trust (Sacramento)

California Rangeland Trust conserves open space, natural habitat, and stewardship provided by California’s working ranches. With over 12,000 acres of ranch and range lands protected forever from development in California’s Central Valley, California Rangeland trust has an impressive record of merging land conservation with ranchland heritage.

  1. Center for Natural Lands Management (Temecula)

CNLM protects and manages preserves in the states of California and Washington. All of the preserves provide refuge for threatened or endangered species or protect rare and sensitive habitat such as wetlands. Our focus is perpetual conservation and our preserves have enduring legal protections such as our ownership of the property, deed restriction, conservation easement, and/or perpetual management agreement. Although most of CNLM’s preserves are too vulnerable to allow public access, there are some preserves with public trails.


  1. Columbia Land Trust (Portland, OR)

Fearless Conservation is a once-in-a-generation campaign to launch Columbia Land Trust’s 25-year Conservation Agenda. This agenda outlines what we will do over the next four years, and the next quarter-century, to protect our most important Northwest places. CLT is looking to the future with a sharpened focus and a commitment to practicing what we call “fearless conservation.” The objectives defined in our agenda require $1.2 million dollars per year over the next 4 years, which we are poised to leverage into $100 million worth of conservation—more than in our previous 27 years combined.

  1. Feather River Land Trust (Quincy)

At 2.32 million acres, the Feather River watershed is the largest watershed in the Sierra Nevada. Since 2000, the Feather River Land Trust has been working to conserve the magnificent lands and waters of the Feather River region. They have successfully protected over 47,000 acres of private lands that support outstanding biodiversity, waterways, fisheries, recreational and educational opportunities, cultural sites, agricultural lands, and spectacular scenery.

  1. Lake County Land Trust (Lakeport)

Protecting land adjacent to North America’s oldest lake, The Lake County Land Trust’s signature project is the Rodman Ranch and Preserve, commonly called Rodman Slough, on the north end of Clear Lake. Acquisition of this property involved gathering resources from State, Federal, and County sources, as well as private funding to purchase and preserve valuable upland oak habitat and wetland habitat. Finally, in 1999, the Land Trust was able to complete the purchase of this property. The preserve consists of 240 acres, owned by the Land Trust and the Department of Fish and Game, plus another 40 acres owned by the County of Lake. Significant funding for this project came from the State Wildlife Conservation Board.  In 2007 a brand new nature education center was completed at the Rodman Preserve. The land trust was able to raise almost $150,000 locally to pay for the renovation of an old farm house on the property. Volunteers are leading walks, presenting programs, and working on installing interpretive and educational displays.

  1. Land Trust for Santa Barbara County (Santa Barbara)

The Land Trust for Santa Barbara County and the Cachuma Resource Conservation District, along with other community partners, joined the Santa Barbara Foundation LEAF Initiative have developed the Santa Barbara County Conservation Blueprint. The Blueprint is the first comprehensive compilation of the natural resource and land assets in the county designed to inform conversations about the future of the region and transform how to approach conservation and development in the future. The LTSBC’s projects range from small, volunteer-based work days at Coronado Butterfly Preserve or Arroyo Hondo, to a $2.4 million major overhaul of 35 acres in the West Goleta Slough.

  1. Land Trust of Napa County (Napa)

The Land Trust of Napa County is celebrating 41 years of preservation in Napa. The Land Trust has permanently protected 65,000 acres of land throughout Napa County. That is 12% of Napa county. 250 projects: 140 conservation agreements, 19 properties transferred to resource agencies, 16 properties protected through ownership, 9 permanent preserves.

  1. Land Trust of Santa Cruz County (Santa Cruz)

Since its founding in 1978, the Land Trust has raised $62 million in funding for conservation, and has protected more than 14,000 acres – directly and through partnerships. In the spring of 2015, the Land Trust’s Board approved a five-year Strategic Plan. It calls for focused work on building 45 miles of new trails in the county, raising matching funds to build the Coastal Rail Trail, driving the Highway 17 Wildlife Crossing to completion, and protecting more Pajaro Valley farmland. It also calls for continued stewardship of the 14,000 acres under the Land Trust’s care.

  1. Lassen Land and Trails Trust (Susanville)

Lassen Land and Trails Trust has been working for over a quarter century to conserve all that makes our region ‘home’ for our friends and neighbors, as well as wildlife. Lying at the convergence of the Sierra Nevada, Cascade, Modoc Plateau and Great Basin, our northeastern California home offers a broad diversity of landscapes from alpine mountains and meadows to the sage-steppe of the high desert. The Lassen Land and Trails Trust is dedicated to conserving these resources along with the character and heritage of our region.

  1. Marin Agricultural Land Trust (Point Reyes Station)

Since the 1960’s, this venerable Land Trust has worked with 81 farming families to preserve nearly 50,000 acres in Marin County. MALT’s primary goal is to protect working farms in Marin County, and in doing so, protect so much more than the land itself. Benefits of sound stewardship practices which are at the core of MALT’s mission include 1) Local food – fresh and healthy, benefitting the community and the planet. 2) Open space – protected farmland provides space and resources for plants and animals to thrive. 3) Clean air and water – stopping sprawl blocks pollution, supporting healthy communities near and far. 4) Carbon abatement – innovative techniques on the leading edge of the fight against climate change.

  1. McKinleyville Land Trust (McKinleyville)

North of Arcata, in Humboldt County, The McKinleyville Land Trust is dedicated to the conservation of our local open spaces for their ecological, historical, agricultural, educational, recreational and scenic values. It was started in 1994 as a result of local residents’ response to the development of the Mill Creek Shopping Center and its potential impacts on Mill Creek. Today, the McKinleyville Land Trust manages three, valuable and wild rural properties.

  1. Mendocino Land Trust (Mendocino)

The Mendocino Land Trust works with individual landowners, an army of volunteers and the California State Park system to conserve and restore ecologies across Mendocino county. Last fall the MLT helped a landowner protect 2,000 acres of family forestland near Point Arena, including 4.8 miles of streams and habitat for endangered owls and mountain beavers.  Looking ahead, the Land Trust is working with the Pacific Forest and Watershed Lands Stewardship Council to protect land that is being donated to the Potter Valley Tribe by Pacific Gas and Electric Company. These lands are along Trout and Alder creeks in the Eel River area east of Potter Valley, and will provide tribal family members with a treasured place for cultural education and recreation.  The MLT also plans to open a picnic area and trail at the Ten Mile Estuary Preserve, a project that is coming soon.  The land in this area was donated to the Land Trust in the summer of 2016 by The Conservation Fund.

  1. Mojave Desert Land Trust (Johsua Tree)

Through direct-action land stewardship, land acquisition, easement management and investing in their own private native plant nursery for desert habitat restoration, MDLT is leading the way for other California Land Trust organizations with a dynamic agenda to protect and defend the Mojave Desert. MDLT protects land within the entire California portion of the eastern Mojave and Colorado deserts – 24.5 million acres in all. MDLT focus on parcels within national parks and preserves, wilderness areas, areas of critical environmental concern, and wildlife linkage corridors. We have successfully conserved land in Joshua Tree National Park, Mojave National Preserve, Mojave Trails National Monument, and Death Valley National Park.

  1. Mother Lode Land Trust (Jackson)

Since 2006 MLLT has been working with the Stewardship Council on plans to help PG&E divest itself of over 140,000 acres of watershed land in California.  The MLLT manages the 244-acre Kennedy Meadows property, 515 acres of Middle Fork Stanislaus River frontage in Tuolumne County, another 460-acre Conservation Easement at Lyons Reservoir, 899 acres at Bear River Reservoir, 1,400 acres at Blue Lakes in Alpine County, 1,100 acres at Doaks Ridge on the Mokelumne, and an additional 2,300 acres of river frontage along various reaches of the Mokelumne including Tiger Creek, Tabeaud Reservoir, and the Electra Powerhouse. These projects enhance the natural environment as well as ensure that public use is honored and improved. In 2016, MLLT received a grant from the Sierra Nevada Conservancy to complete a Watershed Assessment and Management Plan at our recently acquired Land Gulch Ranch.  This property is adjacent to the Pine Mountain Lake neighborhood and will focus on recreational opportunities as well as the watershed and Great Gray Owl preservation.  The components of the Plan will be a Timber Management Plan, Great Gray Owl Study, Recreation Plan, and Watershed Assessment.

  1. Mountains Restoration Trust (Calabasas)

MRT is a land trust in the Santa Monica Mountains. MRT’s primary method of operating is to work with the local community to expand nature preserves with the expressed intent of protect the unique biodiversity found in the area. Major projects include the 92-acre gateway to the Santa Monica Mountains called Headwaters Corner at Calabasas & Dry Canyon Creek, the 1600-acre Cold Creek Preserve (a SEA – Significant Ecological Area) and the La Sierra Preserve.

  1. Muir Heritage Land Trust (Martinez)

John Muir Land Trust permanently protects land throughout Alameda County and Contra Costa County to safeguard our beautiful environment for people, animals and plants alike. The Martinez Regional Land Trust which later became the MHLT was incorporated in 1989 to protect 150 acres of Alhambra Valley open space. That property is now called Stonehurst — located within the community of the same name. Just three years later, the Land Trust made possible the addition of a 325-acre Mount Wanda property to the John Muir National Historic Site. The MHLT is responsible for finding, acquiring and taking care of all JMLT properties, protecting and caring for open space, ranches, farms, parkland and shoreline in the East Bay, which now total over 3,100 acres.

  1. Nature Reserve of Orange County (Irvine)

Part of the Natural Communities Coalition (NCC), the Nature Reserve of Orange County was established in 1996 as one of the first implementation steps following the signing of a landscape-scale habitat planning and conservation effort—the Natural Community Conservation Plan/Habitat Conservation Plan (NCCP/HCP) for the Central and Coastal Subregion of Orange County, California. The plan provides long-term protection for wildlife and their critical habitats, and regulatory assurances and economic benefits for participating landowners. In 2003, the Nature Reserve of Orange County created a habitat restoration and enhancement plan for the Central for the Central and Coastal Subregion.  The plan identifies and prioritizes potential restoration areas within the reserve and provides detailed information on the most effective methods of associated costs of restoration activities. A revision of the plan is expected in late 2018.

  1. North Coast Regional Land Trust (Bayside)

The NCRLT works in Trinity, Humboldt and Del Norte counties and is responsible for conserving and monitoring more than 25,000 acres of ranch, farm, and timber land, including projects under the Six Rivers to the Sea Initiative. The are responsible for protecting 320 acres of old- and mature- growth forest with salmon-spawning streams. They manage and have restored 195 acres of agricultural land and estuarine habitat. In 2009, NRLT conducted restoration activities on Freshwater Farms Reserve and have facilitated public access on normally restricted private property through naturalist-led events. They work to engage their diverse community with the develop a 100-year common vision for land use plan.

  1. Northern California Regional Land Trust (Chico)

The NCRLT’s program area includes Tehama, Glenn, and Butte counties, from the western slopes of the Sierra-Cascade Crest, across the Sacramento River Valley, to the eastern slopes of the North Coast Range. Within this approximately 6,000 square mile region, the NCRLT’s priorities are the conservation of farms, ranches, and open space important to our region’s economic well-being, ecological health, and quality of life. The Land Trust was founded in 1990 under the former name of “Parks and Preserves Foundation” and functioned as a local, grass-roots land trust that promoted cooperative preservation and enhancement of scenic, open space and significant habitat resources in Butte County. The NCRLT currently holds 29 conservation easements in Butte and Tehama counties covering over 15,500 acres. Our smallest easement is 0.39 acre, while our largest acquisition is 4,235 acres. In addition to conserving working landscapes and prime farmland, the NCRLT is also interested in conservation easements that protect natural resources and regional biodiversity. As such, many of the easements preserve natural oak woodlands, riparian areas, conifer forest, grasslands and a large population of special-status Butte County checkerbloom. The majority of these properties are in the Sierra Nevada foothills.

  1. Pacific Forest Trust (San Francisco)

For more than 20 years, Pacific Forest Trust has epitomized innovation, daring, and a savvy understanding of market forces to create new economic incentives that reward private forest owners for conserving their lands and practicing sustainable forestry. Working closely with other forest stakeholders, from landowners to agencies to environmental nonprofit partners, The Pacific Forest Trust creates and advances high-leverage, catalytic strategies that engage the commitment, imagination, and resources of many individuals, businesses, and organizations to make it easier and more rewarding to do good things for the forests—and forest landowners—on which we all depend. The only conservation organization focused on private forests in California, Oregon, and Washington, we’ve conserved 250,000 acres of vital forestland regionally.

  1. Peninsula Open Space Trust (Palo Alto)

The Peninsula, tucked between San Francisco and San Jose, is known the world over for its beauty, great weather and as a global epicenter of education and innovation. To those who live here, it is special because we have struck a magical balance between rural beauty and urban lifestyle and opportunity. This unique balance is no accident. It is the result of over 40 years of vision, focus and tenacious land protection work. POST is a driving force behind this work. POST has protected over 75,000 acres of open space, farms and parkland since our founding in 1977. In that time, we have developed a proven methodology for successful land protection by purchasing the land and placing permanent protection on it through conservation easements. Once the protection work is complete we continue to take care of the land in perpetuity.

  1. Sacramento Valley Conservancy (Sacramento)

SVC’s mission is to preserve the beauty, character and diversity of the Sacramento Valley landscape by working with citizens, property owners, developers, public agencies and other nonprofit organizations. It preserves dedicated open space by the acceptance of gifts, private purchase, facilitation of public acquisition, conservation easements and by cooperative efforts. Their total acreage count of land protected is 17,584 and the flagship property is Deer Creek Hills Preserve, and located in eastern Sacramento county on Latrobe Road in Sloughhouse. Being the largest open space preserve in Sacramento County and working cattle ranch, it boasts over 4,500 acres of Blue Oak Woodlands, seasonal creeks and grasslands.

  1. Sempervirens Fund (Los Altos) http://www,

Sempervirens Fund is California’s oldest land trust and the only organization dedicated exclusively to protecting the redwood forests of the Santa Cruz Mountains. The Great Park is Sempervirens Fund’s vision of a beautiful, healthy, accessible redwood forest between Silicon Valley and the Pacific Ocean and one of the most exciting conservation visions in California today. The Great Park protects remaining old-growth redwoods as well as second-growth redwood forests. The vision integrates both public and private land into a magnificent, resilient whole. The Great Park encompasses 215 square miles of redwood forest and watersheds in the Santa Cruz Mountains (138,000 acres) stretching from Pescadero Creek to Wilder Ranch, from Skyline to the sea. The Great Park will protect remaining old-growth redwoods, as well as second-growth redwoods that are only 50-150 years into their 2,000-year lifespan. Once protected and connected, the natural systems can reassert themselves, and the healthy forest can sustain itself – and us — for countless centuries to come. It will provide a safe home for wildlife — like mountain lions, marbled murrelet and salmon – and crucial refuge and recreation for us all. About 2/3 of the Great Park area is already protected – hosting countless people and animals every day. But, 61 square miles (39,000 acres) of priority forest land are still vulnerable to subdivisions and development. A vast Sequoia sempervirens forest thrived here for at least 20 million years – and with the help of the Sempervirens Fund, may support people and wildlife for 20 million more.

  1. Sequoia Riverlands Trust (Visalia)

Sequoia Riverlands Trust (SRT) is dedicated to strengthening California’s heartland and the natural and agricultural legacy of the southern Sierra Nevada and San Joaquin Valley. SRT engages landowners, farmers, conservationists, business partners, and governmental agencies in the counties of Tulare, Fresno, Kern and Kings to collaborate on land conservation throughout California’s South Central Valley heartland. To date, Sequoia Riverlands Trust has protected more than 20,000 acres. SRT owns and manages six nature preserves that protect 4,089 acres of remnant landscapes, woodland communities and wildlife habitat. SRT holds conservation easements on more than 13,366 acres of protected land, most of them on working farms and ranches. SRT has also collaborated with agencies, other non-profit conservation organizations and landowners to protect almost 4,700 additional acres, including 2,388 acres with deed restrictions on Bureau of Land Management land within Carrizo Plain National Monument.

  1. Shasta Land Trust (Redding)

Conserving the beauty, character, and diversity of significant lands in far Northern California Since 1998, Shasta Land Trust has led efforts to identify and conserve significant lands in the north state that provide local benefits such as open space, wildlife habitat, scenic views, recreation, and working agricultural lands. Shasta Land Trust has preserved 23,947 acres on 15 properties.

  1. Sierra Cascade Land Trust Council (Nevada City)

Occupying only a third of California’s landmass, the Sierra Cascade provides over 60 percent of the state’s clean drinking water. Half of California’s plant and animal species are found in the Sierra Cascade region, and more than 50 million visitors come each year to enjoy the spectacular scenery and abundant recreational opportunities found here. Ten local land trusts based in the Sierra Nevada and California Cascades, together with their four state and national partners, want to make sure that our region continues to thrive. These 14 groups comprise The Sierra Cascade Land Trust Council.

  1. Sierra County Land Trust (Sierra City)

The Sierra Buttes and Lakes Basin is one of the most compelling and visually beautiful features in the Sierra Nevada. Pristine and set off the beaten path, this region seems how Tahoe might have looked before it was overcome by vacation homes and tourist towns. There are still 55 private properties within the basin, totaling almost 3,000 acres. The potential development of some of these private lands threatens this spectacular area. In addition to an ambitious management and education outreach agenda, the SCLT is currently working to create a long-term endowment fund to protect the Buttes.

  1. Sierra Foothill Conservancy (Mariposa)

The grasslands, foothills, and forests between Yosemite and Kings Canyon National Parks provide land for farms and ranches, a home for native plants and wildlife, and a source of clean water. Sierra Foothill Conservancy honors our natural and cultural heritage by protecting these resources and ensuring that present and future generations will continue to experience and enjoy the land in this region. At this moment in its history, the Sierra Foothill Conservancy is the proud owner of eight nature preserves, totaling 6,481 acres. Although they are all located in the Sierra Nevada foothills, they are remarkably diverse in their history, their topography, and their plant and animal life. In fact, they stand as splendid examples of the rich diversity of different habitat types in this region. SFC offers guided hikes on several of their preserves.

  1. Siskiyou Land Trust (Mt. Shasta)

Across Siskiyou County are many landowners that have a strong connection to the land that they own. People who want to conserve and protect their land into the future sometimes need financial assistance or someone to carry forward their wishes.  Without help from an organization like the Siskiyou Land Trust, all too often these special places disappear forever. Key Holdings and Projects of the SLT include: 1) Sisson Meadow, Mount Shasta, CA protecting 7.7 acres of scenic view-shed and wetland habitat. 2) Trinity River Conservation Easement, Trinity County, CA protecting 70 acres of open space, view-shed and wildlife habitat corridor. 3) Scott Valley Conservation Easement, Siskiyou County, CA protecting 5,500 acres of agricultural land, river corridor and wildlife habitat. And 4) Hammond Reservoir, Weed, CA protecting 67 acres of open space and wildlife habitat.

  1. Solano Land Trust (Fairfield)

Founded in 1986 as the Solano County Farmlands and Open Space Foundation, the group changed its name in 2004 to the Solano Land Trust. Solano Land Trust was established as a result of litigation involving open space advocates, land developers and a municipal government. This unusual genesis created a board that reflects all sides of land-use issues united in the mission to preserve the agricultural legacy and natural landscapes of Solano County. Using innovative, non-confrontational techniques, SLT has permanently protected 22,161 acres of natural areas and agricultural lands to date. SLT’s anchor properties at Jepson Prairie Preserve, King-Swett Ranches, Lynch Canyon, Rush Ranch and Rockville Trails represent the rich and varied landscape that makes Solano County unique. From rare vernal pools to tidal marsh wetlands to rolling serpentine grasslands, our properties serve an important role in preserving these habitats for residents in the local community, the Greater Bay Area and all of California.

  1. Sonoma Land Trust (Santa Rosa)

In November of 2007, Sonoma Land Trust purchased a 1,665-acre property in southern Sonoma County at risk of subdivision and vineyard development and named it Tolay Creek Ranch. The acquisition of Tolay Creek Ranch also completed the protection of a 7,500-acre wildlife corridor extending from the foothills of Sonoma Mountain to the bay. With sweeping views of San Francisco Bay, dazzling wildflower displays and plenty of space for hiking, the ranch was well suited to becoming a park — particularly since it is situated adjacent to 1,737-acre Tolay Lake Regional Park. Today, after nearly 10 years of resource assessments, habitat enhancement and creek restoration activities, Sonoma Land Trust has donated Tolay Creek Ranch to Sonoma County Regional Parks, a move that will double the size of Tolay Lake park. This is but one of many projects in a portfolio of works that includes dozen of preserves, easements and completed projects in the portfolio of the Sonoma Land Trust, an extremely successful organization.

  1. Sutter Buttes Regional Land Trust (Yuba City)

Preserving agricultural land has become the primary focus of Sutter Buttes Regional Land Trust. With more than 20 land trusts working to protect Central Valley farmland, habitat and native vegetation, increased demand for partners to manage and monitor easements has become essential. Becoming an active and respected regional conservation partner is necessary for the long-term sustainability of the organizations and it efforts. The Sutter, Colusa and Yuba County region encompasses approximately 2,200 square miles or 1.4 million acres located in the valley of north of Sacramento. Current growth projections will result in as much as 34,000 acres of critical habit, agricultural lands, wetlands, and open space slated for development.

  1. Tri Valley Conservancy (Livermore)

Tri-Valley Conservancy’s mission is “to permanently protect the fertile soils, rangelands, open space and biological resources and to support a viable agricultural economy, in the Tri-Valley area.” The TVC accomplishes this mission by providing landowners with a flexible, voluntary alternative to subdividing or developing their property. With over 7,000 acres preserved in the Livermore valley across 64 Conservation Easements on over 100 properties, The South Livermore Valley Area Plan (SLVAP) was created to preserve the area’s vineyards and wineries, enhance recognition as a premium wine-producing region, and to incentivize investment and expansion of vineyards and other cultivated agriculture. Additionally, The South Livermore Valley Specific Plan (SLVSP) requires that development occurring in the area must preserve one acre for every house built and for every acre built on, an additional acre must be preserved (i.e. five houses built on one acre = six acres to be preserved).

  1. Trinidad Coastal Land Trust (Trinidad)

The Land Trust’s twenty coastal properties are managed by volunteers and landowners for public access, recreation and open space protections. Some of the properties owned by the TCLT include Houda Point/Camel Rock Beach Park, Baker Beach, north Luffenholtz Beach, our future Little River Trail property, Pilot Point, Saunders Park and public access easements to Moonstone Beach and Secret Beach. The Trinidad Coastal Land Trust owns, for public benefit, some of the most beautiful coastal properties and beach access trails. The TCLT owns and manages nine properties (fee title, or complete ownership) and the additional eleven conservation easements are held on private properties. In total, twenty properties located from Little River to Big Lagoon are protected to date, and three additional, significant public trail projects are in the works

  1. Truckee Donner Land Trust (Truckee)

Over the years, The Truckee Donner Land Trust has protected over 33,000 acres, ensuring continued recreational access and protecting lands for future generations. We are determined to protect another 24,500 acres in the coming years with a value of over $40 million. Public access and recreation are extremely important to the Land Trust’s work. We are the builders and stewards of the Donner Lake Rim Trail, a 23-mile multi-use trail. Volunteers can also join us in trail construction, maintenance, signage installation, and construction of picnic areas and campgrounds. Go to their website for trail-building dates.

  1. Yolo Land Trust (Woodland)

Yolo Land Trust (YLT) conserves farmland and ranchland by providing landowners with a viable financial alternative to selling their land for development. The most common method is through conservation easements, by which landowners maintain ownership, but agree to never develop their land. Conservation easements help keep farmers farming, and ranchers ranching. Yolo Land Trust has permanently protected 11,000 acres of farmland through over 60 conservation easements, and the fee ownership of an easement-restricted farm. Yolo Land Trust also supports habitat protection for plants and animals that depend upon farmland and the adjacent sloughs, creeks and rivers for survival.





Conservation in California and the American West Right Now

Conservation in California and the American West Right Now
11/30/2017 by Obi Kaufmann

When only a couple of years ago we were celebrating the addition of five National Monuments to California’s portfolio of protected land (Berryessa Snow Mountain, San Gabriel Mountains, Sand to Snow, Castle Mountains and Mojave Trails), we have now witnessed a swinging of the political pendulum: the party in executive power seems bent on dismantling federal protections and selling them off to private interests. The talk among conservation groups seems not about protecting new lands, although some California-based initiatives still exist in that regard, but to protect what we’ve already got done and thought was settled. The massive network of local, regional and national organizations who tirelessly work at defending and conserving land across the west remains steadfast, even galvanized in resistance to the current presidential administration and the toxic appointments that have been made to the Department of the Interior and the Environmental Protection Agency. These agencies are currently shirking, perhaps even deliberately undermining their responsibility to the nature legacy of our public interest and trading our grandchildren’s wilderness for profit. I have created a list and am presenting it here of some of my favorite non-profit organizations who rally against downward, unwise and mismanaged trend of our federal government, day after day. As you consider end of the year donations, please peruse this list and consider these embroiled organizations and their fight for your public lands. In their fight to maintain habitat and the promotion of biodiversity they stand against the wave of short-sight progress which comes so easily and so often at the expense of the natural world of the American West.

All of the groups score highly on Charity Navigator’s list of quality, registered 501(c)3 organizations for transparency and effectiveness. There are so many more organizations that I could have mentioned and do wish to support. This list presents a balanced view of Non-profit organizations that span topics and areas across California and some beyond with specific regard to issues of conservation, biodiversity and public lands. They are presented in alphabetical order. I will be following up this inventory with another, highlight the many wonderful Land Trust Organizations that I whole-heartedly support. -Obi

Portrait of the author, artist Obi Kaufmann, by Paul Collins.

Hold our Ground Donation $25

Advocates for the west is a non-profit environmental law firm that employs law and science in the argument to protect the west’s public lands, water and wildlife. Advocates for the West are the legal backup to over 30 conservation nonprofits and partners in the West. They are currently representing themselves in a suit filed by Senior Attorney Todd Tucci against Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the Department of Justice, seeking disclosure of unlawfully withheld documents demonstrating that President Trump and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke lack authority to vacate or shrink Bears Ears National Monument, Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument and all other National Monuments.

Supporting Membership $35

The Amargosa Conservancy works through advocacy and stewardship to protect this ancient and delicate, desert watershed. Membership supports their efforts to (1) Make the Amargosa a priority for government land managers, and partner with them to accomplish goals of common interest. (2) Build support for the Amargosa Conservancy in local communities and among others who love the Amargosa. (3) Facilitate community engagement in environmental policy-making and endangered species conservation. (4) Promote awareness and support for conservation in the Amargosa region among political leaders in California and Nevada who represent the region at the national (Congress), state (legislature), and county (supervisors) levels. (5) Control invasive species. (6) To gather essential data to gain a clearer understanding of the water resources of the Amargosa Basin. (7) Partner with others to support economic sustainability that protects the land, water, and beauty of the Amargosa. (8) Protect key conservation target properties in the Conservancy’s area of interest through acquisition of conservation easements or outright purchase. (9) Ensure sound organizational operations and structures.

View from Sibley Ridgeline north, East San Francisco Bay. All wilderness photos by Obi Kaufmann

Individual Membership $35

The American River Conservancy serves our communities by ensuring healthy ecosystems within the California’s Upper American and upper Cosumnes River Watersheds through land conservation, stewardship and education. ARC is now working on the American River Headwaters Restoration Project, a plan for the upper American River watershed to support its biodiversity with healthy forests that are resilient to naturally occurring wildfire, rivers and streams that support an abundance of native fish, and a network of trails that enable the public to enjoy the scenic and ecological richness of this property.

Basic Donation $25

The ABF works to conserve land by purchasing it from willing sellers and adding it to Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. When Anza Borrego Desert State Park, California’s largest State Park, was formed in the early 1930’s, it was checkerboarded by thousands of acres of private land inholdings. Since 1967, the ABF has acquired more than 54,000 acres of those missing puzzle pieces and have added them to the park. In such critically endangered local landscapes such as Borrego Palm Canyon and Coyote Canyon, areas rich in life and paleontology. Looking to the future, the ABF seeks to acquire yet more of these inholdings and to conserve wilderness areas in perpetuity.

Old Culp Valley Road, Anza Borrego Desert State Park

Basic Donation $20

Since the 19th century, the Audubon Society has been working in California to protect wild birds and their habitat. Most recently, Audubon California has been leader in (1) Advocacy to elected officials and agency staff to include water for refuges in drought response legislation and policies, (2) supporting a network of activists who support bird-friendly state policies, work to restore and maintain healthy habitat for birds, and help educate the public on bird-friendly issues, (3) maintaining safe places for kids and families to explore the natural world at our nature centers and sanctuaries, (4) supporting partnerships with farmers to bring songbirds back to rural California, and with fishermen to support sustainable fishing practices for waterbirds that share our oceans and bays, and (5) Scientific research on best conservation practices for birds and people in a changing climate.

Individual membership $35

Through political action and activist organizing, Cal Wild works to protect California’s Wild Public Lands and Rivers. Cal Wild has projects across the state, but most notably, they are working to support the newest version of the Central Coast Heritage Protection Act (CCHPA S.1959 and HR 4079) introduced by Representative Salud Carbajal (D-CA) and Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) and when passed, will protect 244,909 acres of wilderness across eight existing wilderness areas, create two scenic areas encompassing 34,882 acres and safeguard 159 miles of wild and scenic rivers in the Los Padres National Forest and the Carrizo Plain National Monument. This is important new legislation in a time when bills like this are few and far between.

looking north to San Gorgonio Peak from near the top of San Jacinto Peak, Mt. San Jacinto State Park

Basic Donation $25

Since the Conservation Alliance was founded in 1989, they’ve helped protect 50 million acres, 2,991 river miles, removed or halted 29 dams, purchased 12 climbing areas and designated 5 marine reserves. 100% of your donation will be directed to the groups working to protect wild lands and water for future generations to enjoy. Most recently, the Conservation Alliance has established the Public Lands Defense Fund (PLDF) to safeguard the integrity of our public lands and to coordinate corporate money with environmental restoration projects.

One-Time Donation $15

Working on BLM and National Monument land throughout the west, CLF has a broad portfolio from working directly to restore ecosystems in the field to political advocacy defending these wild places from those in Washington who would like to exploit the natural resources there. As laid out in their mission, CLF works to ensure the Antiquities Act and our bedrock environmental laws are protected; defend our national monuments from attacks; safeguard the National Conservation Lands as a permanent system of protected public lands; Uphold strong conservation management practices and policies; and ensure the National Conservation Lands are backed by a dedicated and influential constituency of grassroots advocates.

Summer along Sagehen Creek Trail, Tahoe National Forest, Nevada county, California

Basic Donation $35

“Because Earth needs a good lawyer” is Earthjustice’s famous tag line. For 45 years, Earthjustice has been litigating for the side of conservation and biodiversity. This massively successful organization with a long track record of impressive victories is now taking on big oil in their attempts to rip apart the Alaskan Wildlife Refuge, to combat the dismantling of the federal Clean Power Plan and the protecting large predators in the west that would be affected by a bevvy of laws that are now gearing up to end remaining population.

Basic Donation $25

Environment California is a statewide, citizen-based environmental advocacy organization. With roots in direct activism, EC recently launched the Alliance to Save Bees which united sixty-five chefs and restaurant owners to form the first Bee Friendly Food Alliance. Other major projects include staunch leadership in opposition to Fracking in California and “keeping plastic out of the Pacific.” EC is instrumental in the movement to ban plastic shopping bags from the state.

Slinkard Wildlife Area, Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest, California

Clark’s Nutcracker Donation $35

Friends of the Inyo provides Preservation, Exploration, and Stewardship of the Eastern Sierra from places like the Golden Trout Wilderness and Owens Lake to Mammoth Lakes, June Lake, and the Bodie Hills. From the crest of the Sierra to the White and Inyo Mountains, Friends of the Inyo has a long history of making a difference with programs that connect people with their public lands. Members receive FOI’s biannual newsletter, The Jeffrey Pine Journal, invitations to outings and events, and regular email updates about what’s happening on and for the Eastern Sierra’s wild open spaces.

Friend $35

For 45 years, Friends of the River has been tireless in their dogged protection of California’s water resources and keeping wild rivers wild. On their website, Friends of the River lays out a specific and fascinating plan for California’s water future, balancing conservation and human needs without building ecologically disastrous dams. Now the fight is on over Sites Dam in the western Sacramento Valley near Maxwell. This dam would be devastating to the many threatened and endangered species that depend on the river and its dynamic flow-based ecosystem.

Green Creek Wildlife Area, Hoover Wilderness, California

Individual Membership $25

Kern River Conservancy works to implement education initiatives focused on watershed conservation, responsible public land use, wild trout conservation and community outreach. Kern River is home to 3 of California’s Native Heritage Trouts, The Kern River Rainbow, Little Kern Golden and California’s official state fish, The Golden Trout. The population of these fish have become dire as our waterways continue to warm up from the climate of our planet and the ongoing destructive drought in California. Adding to the factor of the threat, is free range cattle grazing that has destroyed precious meadows and streams which the trout rely on for a healthy habitat. Kern River Conservancy has an exclusive relationship with so many partners who work to create a unique outreach program on engaging anglers and outdoor enthusiasts on the importance of conservation and the safe practice of catch and release.

Basic Donation $20

Klamath Siskiyou Wildlands, or KSWILD, works to protect wild areas, rivers and wildlife in the Klamath-Siskiyou bioregion of Northern California and Southwest Oregon through direct and legal action and community activism. The so-called “Resilient Federal Forest Act” (H.R. 2936, 2017) is an extreme attack on public lands, proposing 50 square miles of timber-industry clearcuts with no public review. Although the bill was successfully amended to make clear that the provision did not affect Wilderness, Wild and Scenic, and other land designations. That amendment did not do the same for the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument, areas of critical environmental concern, riparian reserves, late successional reserves, northern spotted owl critical habitat, and other designations.

Trinity River near Willow Creek, California

Membership $50

Los Padres Forest Watch is the only local nonprofit organization protecting wildlife, wilderness, and clean water throughout the Los Padres National Forest, the Carrizo Plain National Monument, and other public lands along California’s central coast for the benefit of our communities and future generations. Organizing armies of passionate volunteers, LPFW works to maintain trails and monitor the health of the Coastal ranges across Central California. LPFW employs a cadre of biologists who have most recently formally submitted the Refugio Manzanita (Arctostaphylos refugioensis) as a candidate in Santa Barbara county to be protected by the federal endangered species act to the U.S. Department of Fish & Game.

Basic Donation $25

Since 1978, The Mono Lake Committee has been a voice for Mono Lake for research, negotiation, litigation and lobby efforts in defense of Mono Lake. As advocates for cooperative solutions to water supply problems, the Mono Lake Committee has also become a voice for water use efficiency. The long legal struggle that saved Mono Lake also set the stage for restoring many of Mono Lake’s damaged resources. Mono Lake is rising and its streams ore re-establishing the natural processes that once supported lush desert-forests and thriving ecosystems. As the recovery continues over the next 20 years, there will still be much work to be done, and offers a dynamic lesson in restoration that Mono Lake Committee will oversee and document.

View of Mono Lake from Panum Crater, California

Basic Patronage $15

A community working to preserve, protect and restore Mount Shasta’s world-renowned mountain environment, the Mount Shasta Bioregional Ecology Center is now in its 28th year. Since 1997, the MSBEC and their Native American and environmental allies have been battling multinational geothermal corporations to assure that polluting industrial geothermal energy development with associated hydraulic fracturing, acid leaching, and habitat fragmentation will not get a foothold on this sacred ground near and around Mount Shasta up in the Medicine Lake tablelands.

Basic Membership $35

Since 1919, the National Parks Conservation Association has been the leading voice of the American people in the fight to safeguard the scenic beauty, wildlife, and historic and cultural treasures of the largest and most diverse park system in the world. From their national headquarters in Washington, D.C., and 27 locations nationwide, the NPCS calls on program and policy experts, committed volunteers, staff lobbyists, community organizers and communications specialists to inform and inspire the public and to influence decision makers to ensure that our national parks are well protected.


Basic Membership $30

The National Wildlife Federation currently works to connect habitats for bison, bighorn sheep, and grizzly bears in the West through our Adopt a Wildlife Acre program. We’re also raising awareness and building safe pathways for mountain lions in California’s urbanized landscape through the Save LA Cougars campaign. Additionally, we work to connect wildlife habitats in the Northeast through the Critical Paths Project. The National Wildlife Federation has bold plans to expand work connecting habitats for wildlife by 2021.

Basic Donation $25

One of the largest Conservation groups in the world, the Nature Conservancy is currently working locally in California on a numbers of important campaigns, including: 1) the continued monitoring of the Santa Cruz Island Fox as it recovers from the brink of extinction, 2) the 2015 Medical Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act, the state’s first serious effort to provide a regulatory framework for producing marijuana with particular deference to its local, environmental impact, 3) The BIRDRETURNS program, which temporarily leases land from farmers in the central valley to erect temporary and seasonal nesting sites for migratory birds when they need it most, and 4) working with government agencies to assess where massive solar plants across the Southwest could be built without disrupting critical habitat and pristine desert land.

Santa Lucia Memorial Park at the base of Junipero Serra Peak, California

Basic Donation $35

Working on all levels to preserve America’s greatest, long-distance wilderness trail. You can designate your contribution to support one of our following programs. (1) Highest Priority Need – you allow PCTA to fund our most urgent needs. We recommend this option. (2) Trail Maintenance – your support helps recruit, train, supply and mobilize volunteers and staff to help in our goal to maintain 100% of the trail. (3) Trail Protection – your support helps PCTA respond to any threats to the trail. You help us build our partnerships with land managers and you support our advocacy efforts on behalf of the trail. (4) Land Protection –your support enables PCTA to prioritize, plan for and acquire lands that are at risk. (5) PCT Endowment – Endowments exist in perpetuity.  The PCT Endowment Fund supports the strategic goals of the PCTA forever. (6) The Linda Morris Fund of the PCT Endowment – The Linda Morris Fund is a gift for generations to come, ensuring that the trail she loved will be preserved for others who follow. (7) Jane & Flicka Endowment – The Jane and Flicka Endowment Fund provides a way to support the trail in perpetuity while also recognizing the spirit of these two hikers.

Basic Donation $25

An organization of scientists, lawyers and activists, Pacific Rivers works to protect and restore ecosystems of the West to ensure river health, biodiversity, and clean water for present and future generations. Working to bolster Oregon’s timber laws which are failing to protect rivers, water and human health, Pacific Rivers works to protect 24 million acres managed under the Northwest Forest Plan and 2.5 million acres of Oregon’s O&C lands (BLM railroad).

Redwood Regional Park, Oakland, California

Basic Donation $10

The Redwood Parks Conservancy works with the National and State parks systems to maintain public lands along California’s Redwood Coast through education and infrastructure fundraising. Among their current projects is protecting the recently opened and untrailed Titan Grove, and corner of the old growth forest that is being trampled by human traffic. The plan is to build an elevated walkway to preserve the massive trees’ roots for generations to come.

Basic Donation $25

The mission of Restore Hetch Hetchy is to return the Hetch Hetchy Valley in Yosemite National Park to its natural splendor ─ while continuing to meet the water and power needs of all communities that depend on the Tuolumne River. The movement does not begrudge San Francisco and other Bay Area communities the use of Tuolumne River water, as they have done for the past hundred years through what is now decaying infrastructure, but the water needs to be stored outside Yosemite National Park, and this jewel of California wilderness needs to be restored.

Bolinas Ridge, Marin county, California. #trailpaintings by Obi Kaufmann

Basic Donation $25

Through public education and citizen activism, Restore the Delta works to ensure the restoration and future sustainability of the SF Bay-Delta estuary. Contributions help  with litigation, sponsor outreach events, assist education efforts on what makes the Delta so special, and assist in the building of a coalition centered on sustainable water policies for the Delta and California that will be recognized by government officials as they make water management decisions

Hummingbird Donation $70

SBWCN works to rescue, rehabilitate and return to the wild sick, injured, orphaned, or oil-impaired wild birds and small mammals native to Santa Barbara county. $70 will feed hummingbirds recovering from injury for a season. $300 will support a single pelican for one month.  We had 448 in their care last year. $500 will pay for four shipments of mealworms for hungry songbirds. $1,650 will buy 1,400 pounds of frozen sardines for our seabirds. $2000 will fed a raptor for an entire year.

Sunset in Henry Coe State Park, Santa Clara county

Trailblazer Membership $35

Since 1971, SMD has worked to preserve Mount Diablo’s peaks, surrounding foothills, and watersheds through land acquisition and preservation strategies designed to protect the mountain’s natural beauty, biological diversity, and historic and agricultural heritage; enhance the region’s quality of life; and provide recreational opportunities consistent with the protection of natural resources.

Chum Donation $75

Save Our Wild Salmon is a diverse, nationwide coalition working together to restore wild salmon and steelhead to the rivers, streams and marine waters of the Pacific Northwest for the benefit of our region’s ecology, economy and culture. Anti-environmental Members of Congress are working hard to roll back protections for endangered wild salmon and steelhead in the Columbia and Snake Rivers in Oregon and Washington. Save our Wild Salmon is working to stop HR3144, a blatant attack on salmon, orca and tribal treaty rights.

View of Mount Diablo Peak from Bollinger Canyon, California

Individual Membership $25

For one hundred years, Save the Redwoods League has pioneered innovative, science-based forest-restoration work, educated thousands of schoolchildren about the Redwood forest and continues to work at improving access to parkland and to create more parks and reserves. Currently the League is Working with researchers from Humboldt State University, University of California, Berkeley, and citizen scientists, we are studying the impacts of climate change on redwoods’ growth, carbon storage, and forest biodiversity through the Redwoods and Climate Change Initiative (RCCI). They also are working on a project called Redwoods Rising. Redwoods Rising is a collaborative project of Save the Redwoods League, National Park Service and California State Parks that will greatly accelerate the pace and scale of redwood forest recovery and help protect Redwood National and State Parks’ remaining old-growth groves. Recent parcel acquisitions include Mailliard Ranch. is the largest undivided family-owned property in southern Mendocino County. Moreover, with nearly 12,000 acres of redwood and mixed conifer groves, including nearly 1,000 acres of towering old-growth redwood forest, it is the largest expanse of redwood forest still in private family hands in the coast range.

Membership $50

Every day, the Sierra Club activates its political-action network to address some pressing matter that affects all who reside in the West. In California right now, this classic bastion of environmental defense organizations is focused on (1) Clean energy in California (2) Endorsing Alex Padilla for California’s Secretary of State (3) Air Quality and Climate Disruption (4) advocating for Keeping California Forests Healthy, Habitat Viable, and Wildlife Safe (5) Keep California’s 278 state parks open and reverse Governor Brown’s plans to close 70 of those parks due to budget cuts (6) Ban the brutal practice of “hounding” in bear and bobcat hunts (7) Ban the sale of shark fins, the harvest of which threatens to wipe out sharks (8) Beat back legislation that threatened to increase unsustainable forestry practices on private lands.

Tacquitz Canyon. #trailpaintings by Obi Kaufmann

Individual Membership $50

For over 25 years, the Sierra Nevada Alliance has been following a strict mandate that lays out a multi-point plan to maintain the sustainability of the Sierra Nevada mountain range as an extended community where dynamic ecosystems interface with human society. The SNA is an umbrella organization, networking many dozen organizations currently working with (1) the Sierra Nevada AmeriCorps Partnership which conducts on-the-ground watershed restoration and environmental education; (2) Grassroots Advocacy and Regional Climate Change Programs which work with cities throughout the Sierra on transitioning to 100% renewable energy; (3) a Member Group Support Program which allows us to help other groups in the Sierra build capacity and expand their impact.

Friend of the Yuba $50

SYCRL works to protect, restore, and conserve the greater Yuba River watershed. Current work focuses on combatting the plan to build a new dam, called the Centennial Dam on the Bear River, adjacent to the Yuba, which will If built, this 275-foot dam would block the last six miles of publicly accessible free-flowing river on the Bear. It would destroy fish and wildlife habitat, beloved swimming holes, and sacred Native American sites. We don’t need a new dam generating more polluting sprawl and traffic. We can increase our water supply by restoring our forests and meadows, and use the water we do have more wisely. SYCRL also produces the annual Wild & Scenic Film Festival: one of the nation’s premier environmental and adventure film festivals. The 16thannual event will feature films that combine stellar filmmaking, beautiful cinematography and first-rate storytelling to inform, inspire and ignite solutions and possibilities to restore the earth. Each year, the Wild & Scenic Film Festival draws top filmmakers, celebrities, leading activists, social innovators and well-known world adventurers for film, music, workshops, celebrations, and inspiration.


Tuleyome Friend $35

Tuleyome works to protect, maintain and celebrate the Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument in Northern California. In addition to political advocacy, ecological restoration and administrative management around the monument, Tuleyome is currently working on building the Explorit Science center in Woodland, California. This new center for regional science and education will be the only of its kind in the area and foster a new level of understanding in this often unknown and unexplored corner of the California’s Northern, Coastal ranges.

Basic Donation $35

The Salmon Protection and Watershed Network – SPAWN – protects endangered, wild coho salmon and the forests and watersheds they need to survive in West Marin. SPAWN was initiated as part of Turtle Island Restoration Network in 1997. SPAWN works to protects endangered, wild coho salmon and the habitat they need to survive in West Marin. By engaging hundreds of people each year to see and learn about the majestic endangered salmon, SPAWN works to restore watershed habitat, to raise native redwood trees, and to study salmon health. With the support of thousands of activists, SPAWN is also making strides towards fish-friendly development policies to help the salmon survive and thrive.

Kingston Peak, Mojave, California #trailpaintings by Obi Kaufmann

Ventana Advocate $35

The VWA works to protect, preserve and restore the wilderness qualities and biodiversity of the public lands within California’s northern Santa Lucia Mountains and Big Sur Coast. Founded in 1998, The VWA has tirelessly worked to maintain wilderness trails, provide stewardship for the local ecosystems, clean up marijuana grow sites, restore riparian areas, been an advocate for sustainable wildfire planning and responsible grazing standards and has been an invaluable resource for natural history education throughout the region.

Wild Bunch Donation $25

Founded as Forest Guardians in 1989, the original mission of the grassroots effort was to fight a logging project on northern New Mexico’s Elk Mountain. As the evidence of environmental threats continued, the efforts of the Guardians expanded. In addition to fighting logging projects, the organization began to take on public lands livestock grazing industry. Seeing the devastation that cattle wreak on the Southwest’s precious waterways, the organization launched a campaign to out-compete public lands ranchers for leases. Once the leases were obtained, we fenced out the cattle, removed non-native invasive vegetation, and planted native cottonwood and willow trees that allow waterways to thrive and wildlife habitat to be reborn. Although Guardians has significantly expanded their scope over the years, their core mission to confront the threats facing the beauty and diversity of the American West has not changed. They now have an in-house legal team that works closely with their program directors to reform policy and uphold environmental laws. Guardians has joined with Waterkeeper Alliance to protect and restore the Rio Grande from its headwaters in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado to the Chihuahuan desert of southern New Mexico. Guardians has partnered with Save the Colorado, Save the Poudre, Living Rivers, and Waterkeeper Alliance to challenge the recently approved Windy Gap Firming Project that seeks to further drain the already imperiled Colorado River. Guardians and the Western Environmental Law Center stepped up our efforts to compel the Trump administration to publicly release government records concerning the killing of western wildlife and the oversight of fossil fuel companies.

Near Quail Springs, Joshua Tree National Park, California

Basic Membership $35

One of the world’s great wilderness preservation groups. Currently the Wilderness Society in California is working to (1) purchase and donate future public land holdings in Death Valley to expand the National Park by 32,000 acres near what is called “the Bowling Alley”, (2) purchase and donate future public land holdings in Mojave National Preserve to expand the Preserve by 29,000 acres near Lanfair Valley, (3) advocate for the protection of 70 miles of Wild & Scenic Rivers in the Amargosa, (4) the designation of four new wilderness areas inside of Death Valley National Park, (5) working with the California Wilderness Coalition on the Central Coast Heritage Protection Act, (6) advocating to wilderness land additions around Sequoia and Yosemite National Parks.

Basic Donation $35

Founded in 1995, The Wildlands Conservancy (TWC) is dedicated to preserving the beauty and biodiversity of the earth and to providing California’s largest chain of land managed by a non-profit.  In working to achieve this mission, TWC has established the largest nonprofit nature preserve system in California, comprised of fifteen preserves encompassing 147,000 acres of diverse mountain, valley, desert, river, and oceanfront landscapes. These preserves are open to the public free of charge for passive recreation, including camping, hiking, picnicking, birding, and more. Many acquisitions of the Wildlands Conservancy are then graduated to federal protection and larger conservation efforts, including (1) Wind Wolves Preserve gave birth to a land acquisition effort to link the Coast Ranges with the Sierra Nevada, (2) The 560,000-acre California Desert Land Acquisition gave birth to the 1.6 million-acre Mojave Trails National Monument, and (3) The Wildlands Conservancy’s work in the Santa Ana River Watershed helped bring together cities and counties across Southern California to create the 110-mile Santa Ana River Trail and Parkway project.


Membership $50

Wildlands Network is leading the movement to rewild large tracts of develop land and to establish critical wildlife corridors across the West. The amount of land needed to establish a continental system of connected wildlands will be determined by long-term, science-based mapping that identifies the protected areas and linkages required to sustain wildlife and natural processes. The Wildland Network’s conservation proposals include enlarging existing protected areas—including Wilderness Areas and National Parks—creating new protected areas, and encouraging various levels of additional protections for federal, state, and private lands. Most of the attention this year is on the Wildlands Network’s Borderlands Campaign, the goal of which is to ensure that jaguars, ocelots, and other wildlife can move freely through the Sky Islands region of northern Mexico and the southwestern United States. This means organizing against effort to build a border wall which would destroy critical migratory routes for a whole host of animals who rely on being able to move through that beautiful and wild landscape.

Sunset from Abalone Point, Orange County, California

In Defense of Public Lands

The current presidential administration is making an unprecidented attack against the preservation of our National Monuments. With a campaign of false information and public relations trickery, this president seeks to undermine many large-scale, land-conserving federally protected monuments in order to appease resource extracting business interests. Many of these imperiled, beautiful pieces of the West are a last bastion of a cultural and biological heritage that demands our strictest conservation efforts, not a wasteful and gluttonous policy that tragically disregards our responsibility to the future. To better understand what is really at stake and what the nature of this threat is, let me walk you through my experience last week at the Outdoor Retailer trade show in Salt Lake City, Utah. If you aren’t familiar the Outdoor Retailer Tradeshow is the largest of its kind in the world. For the past twenty-two years, this show has brought hundreds of millions of dollars to Utah, and now because of the short-sighted politics of Utah’s state government, the show will be moving to Denver, Colorado next year.

We marched on the State Capitol, Thursday July 27, 2017, in a show of solidarity, demanding that the Department of the Interior takes no further action towards any of the existing National Monuments and that we would not tolerate any modification to the existing borders of those monuments. When the president says that he wishes to return “the land to the people” he is misleading: private interest is not public interest. The federal department in charge of the National Monuments is the Department of the Interior, and the current Secretary of the DOI is Ryan Zinke.

I was invited out to Outdoor Retailer by a wonderful company called Allett as they lauch their new brand, Mule. We collaborated on an idea to support these National Monuments where I would make paintings, Live at the show (above left), and they would raffle them off to support those non-governmental organizations working to preserve these monuments. The event was massively successful and I am so great to report that we raised hundreds of dollars for the cause.

One of the big highlights for me was getting a chance to meet Sally Jewell (above right). Sally Jewell was the Secretary of the Department of the Interior during the last presidential administration and she is a personal hero of mine. Her energy and her positivity are infectious and I was thrilled to hear her reassuring words: “They don’t have any plan yet. It is all just a bunch of noise. If they do try to shrink these monuments, we will see them in court for years to come.” When I asked her about her plans for the future she told me that at this point she is happy to not be taking an active role in the government and is enjoying canoeing with her grandchildren in the Pacific Northwest.

One of the most controversial monuments up for review is the Bears Ears National Monument.  This stretch of the Utah backcountry has been home to the Ute people for tens of thousands of years. Many quality organizations are pushing back against the current administration’s recommendation at drastically reducing its borders, including: Friends of Cedar Mesa, and The Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance. The Indian Lands and Public Lands Alliance (ILPLA) and the Ute Indian Tribe Political Action Committee (UTEPAC) and leading the way in cooperation to protect these important lands and to forge a new type of public/native relationship with the federal government. Larry Whitebelly Cesspooch, above right, at the Outdoor Retailer show is a master storyteller who here, demonstrates the music behind the Bear Dance. Check out Larry’s TED talk here.

The other Utah National Monument that I painted in support of is Grand Staircase Escalante. At almost 1.9 million acres, this incredible swath of Utah’s Canyonlands is an incredibly impressive effort of posterity that deserves to be honored and defended against privatization schemes that hope to erode its integrity.

From Earth Justice‘s most recent publication. I did notice that Outdoor Retailer just seemed smaller this year – I suppose in part because Patagonia wasn’t there and many vendors followed them in good conscience.

One of the most beautiful pieces of land-designation legislation in recent decades is the emergence of the Mojave Trails National Monument. Between the Marine Base and the Mojave Preserve, this invaluable piece of California desert holds a bevy of precious life that deserves perpetual protection. The map, above left, is from my forthcoming books of maps, The California Field Atlas.

Sand to Snow, San Gabriel Mountains, and the Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument round out the three other National Monuments I made paintings in support of. Please consider supporting the following groups in the efforts to continue to protect these amazing places and all the living systems that call them home:




Preserving Giant Sequoia National Monument

(published by Our public lands are under existential attack from the Trump administration and Congress. In just the first five months of the Trump presidency, we have already seen attacks on the protection of our rivers and streams from coal waste, the attempted elimination of the Environmental Protection Agency, a proposal to sell millions of acres of public land, the opening of public lands for easier resource extraction, a bill to end the Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service’s law enforcement arms, and attacks on the Antiquities Act and national monuments. Frighteningly, there will be much more to come from these anti-public lands extremists in Congress and the Trump administration.
In April, the Trump administration requested a Department of Interior (DOI) “review” of all national monuments over 100,000 acres designated in the last 25 years. This is a major threat to the 27 national monuments it targets, including seven in California. We are working with many of our statewide partners to mount a robust defense and submit comments to the DOI now. CalWild is leading the efforts for the Giant Sequoia National Monument, and we’ve already created enough pressure to stop one local county’s Board of Supervisors from requesting any boundary reductions.
Please join our efforts by sending your comments to Secretary Zinke – link to the California Wilderness Coalition here – before the comment deadline of July 10th.
(sample letter – link to CALWILD to send off the digital version)
Dear Secretary Zinke,
I am writing today to ask you to maintain the Giant Sequoia National Monument as it is currently drawn and managed. 
The Giant Sequoia National Monument is home to 33 groves of Giant Sequoias, one of the largest tree species in the world. The habitat is incredibly sensitive, and with climate change and drought more pervasive in the west, these amazing trees (that in some cases pre-date the creation of the United States), are even more threatened than before. Thousands of hikers, horseback riders, campers, anglers, hunters, and skiers visit the Giant Sequoia National Monument on an annual basis. These magnificent forests provide essential habitat for a variety of rare species, including the California spotted owl and Pacific fisher. 
The National Monument is a vital piece of protected land that abuts Sequoia National Park and the Sequoia National Forest. Retaining its current boundaries is crucial to the proper and controlled management of the threatened and endangered species within. Boundary reductions could open the forest to a variety of threats from clear-cutting, road construction, and habitat fragmentation.
 It is important to note that this Monument was created after years of careful and widely collected public input.
I urge you to broadly protect our collective American heritage. Thank you for your consideration.

Defend the National Monuments

Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke has been ordered to review 27 National Monuments designated by the Antiquities Act over the past 21 years to look for so-called abuses of the act. The public is invited to weigh in on the review as a whole via written comments or an online portal. The White House, by ordering this action, ignores the years-long process of proposals, legislative efforts, and public comments that went into the vast majority of these monuments.

Mail your written comments to: Monument Review, MS-1530,U.S. Department of the Interior, 1849 C Street NW, Washington, D.C. 20240. Online comments may be submitted via by searching for “DOI-2017-0002” or by linking here Comments related to Bears Ears National Monument must be submitted before May 26, 2017. Comments relating to all other National Monuments must be submitted before July 10,2017.

The most contested of these Monuments are Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante, both of which have fossil fuels beneath them. California’s Carrizo Plain National Monument also sits near oil, and the Mojave Trails National Monument is under threat from the controversial Cadiz Water Project, which aims to drain the Mojave  aquifer to provide very expensive and inefficiently delivered water to Orange County.

Secretary Zinke has toured the Monuments in Utah but spent significantly more time with anti-Monument groups and legislators than with pro-Monument ones. The Salt Lake Tribune reported that he only spent 90 minutes with the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition and Friends of Cedar Mesa while “traveling extensively with anti-monument heavyweights” including Governor Gary Herbert and Representative Mike Noel, who took Zinke to the Grand-Canyon Escalante National Monument not to gaze upon the pristine and unique landscape, but to look at a seam of coal.

Zinke refused to meet with the Utah Dine Bikeyah, a Navajo nonprofit working to preserve sacred lands and artifacts that was instrumental in the formation of Bears Ears National Monument (the first National Monument formed at the request of a coalition of Native American groups), or the 49 members of the Escalante-Boulder Chamber of Commerce, who unanimously oppose downsizing their nearby Monument — and instead chose to spend time hiking with a Utah political operative with ties to the Koch brothers.

Theodore Roosevelt

Moreover, I believe that the natural resources must be used for the benefit of all our people, and not monopolized for the benefit of the few, and here again is another case in which I am accused of taking a revolutionary attitude. People forget now that one hundred years ago there were public men of good character who advocated the nation selling its public lands in great quantities, so that the nation could get the most money out of it, and giving it to the men who could cultivate it for their own uses. We took the proper democratic ground that the land should be granted in small sections to the men who were actually to till it and live on it. Now, with the water power, with the forests, with the mines, we are brought face to face with the fact that there are many people who will go with us in conserving the resources only if they are to be allowed to exploit them for their benefit. That is one of the fundamental reasons why the special interests should be driven out of politics. Of all the questions which can come before this nation, short of the actual preservation of its existence in a great war, there is none which compares in importance with the great central task of leaving this land even a better land for our descendants than it is for us, and training them into a better race to inhabit the land and pass it on. Conservation is a great moral issue, for it involves the patriotic duty of insuring the safety and continuance of the nation. Let me add that the health and vitality of our people are at least as well worth conserving as their forests, waters, lands, and minerals, and in this great work the national government must bear a most important part.