What is the Best Conservation Investment?
Philanthropists and local conservationists all want to know; what is the best conservation investment?
The answer is easy—people.
No amount of money is going to protect the environment unless there are committed people with the skills, passion, and direction needed to develop and implement successful conservation projects. Yet that’s easier said than done.
Groups with their boots on the ground are often too busy riding the range, monitoring stream health, restoring degraded habitat, and convening land managers to resolve conservation issues, to focus on the efficiency and longevity of their own organizations. And as the landscapes, communities and economies of the rural West continue to change, these groups play an essential role in the stewardship and protection of our region.
That’s why we are committed to building the capacity of community-based conservation groups. This has included technical assistance and workshops on topics such as creating effective and financially sustainable organizations, developing compelling communication strategies, metrics for project evaluation, and techniques for facilitating civil dialogue. Alongside this organizational assistance, we are also managing a small grants program to help participants implement ideas gleaned from these trainings.
These are components of the High Divide and Southern Crown Capacity Building Initiative, a program Future West has been helping to guide together with colleagues from other regional non-profits. This collaboration is aiding individuals, watershed groups, many local organizations, and even public agencies engaged in rural conservation. Some are working on land protection, others wildlife and fisheries, still others are supporting sustainable ranching and forestry. With the building boom back on full throttle, managing rural growth is also an issue of growing concern.
While most concentrate on their own communities or watersheds, in aggregate they are creating a landscape scale conservation vision that respects and reflects our mosaic of public and private lands. Science, and just common sense, tells us that we can no longer view the world of conservation from our own personal silo. That is especially true in the wide open spaces of the rural west.
The good news is that there are many dedicated, hard working people doing just that. Giving them the tools, training, and networks necessary to achieve their conservation goals, will leverage these efforts.
Capacity building may not be as flashy as putting a collar on a grizzly, buying a chunk of elk winter range, or designating a new public park. But in the long run, it will help sustain these and a thousand other conservation initiatives.
Thank you for investing in this work!
With best regards,
Dennis Glick, Executive Director