Western Conservation Strategies

To conserve the ecological integrity of the western United States and Canada for the health and well-being of people and wildlife. The Foundation does this by investing in four strategies.

We work to conserve the great unspoiled lands of the West by making grants to organizations that work to protect and connect roadless areas and wildlife habitat, and increase public funding to conserve ecologically important private land. Public lands make up over 85 percent of the West, and management of these vast wildlands is critical to the region’s health because fragmented lands do not function the same way as ecosystems. Private lands comprise 15 percent of Western lands, and private landowners are vital to conservation efforts. Our goal is to ensure that public and private lands are managed to support both conservation and sustainable human use. For example, we provided grant funding for the Boreal Forest Initiative which recently succeeded in securing an agreement with Canada’s forest products industry covering 170 million acres that will protect millions of acres of forest crucial to woodland caribou survival and ensure the remaining forestlands are harvested sustainably.

The Environment Program makes grants throughout the West to ensure that water resources are used responsibly and sustainably so they can be conserved for future generations while meeting the needs of a growing population. Water is the most sought-after and fought-over resource in the West. As development expands and demand for water grows, streams and rivers suffer. Dams, unprotected riverbanks, and polluted run-off cause damage to once free-flowing waterways, threaten the survival of fish and birds, and undermine human health and recreation. We support organizations that work to increase the flow of water in rivers throughout the West and preserve surrounding riverbanks. One way grantees do this is to remove antiquated and unsafe dams. For example, the Elwha Dam was taken down in 2011, restoring the Elwha River, which originates in Olympic National Park. This river is important for salmon spawning and for Native Americans that subsist on that salmon.

Western lands account for 5.5 percent of oil and 13 percent of gas production in the United States, with these extractive industries taking a harsh toll on land, water, air, and habitats. Our grantmaking focuses on funding organizations that work to support reducing high-carbon fossil fuel development; making sure that water, land, and air are protected when fuels are extracted, processed, and distributed; and increasing energy efficiency and renewable energy sources. Renewable energy technologies provide hope for cleaner, more sustainable energy sources, developed with human and environmental health in mind. They currently account for 5 percent of U.S. electric energy production, more than doubling in the last decade. Efficiency can also play an important role in reducing energy consumption. By creating energy efficiency programs and by providing incentives for customers to use less energy during peak times, utilities will need to build fewer power plants and run fewer transmission lines through environmentally sensitive places.

Please note that some of our grantmaking related to clean energy is funded through our Energy and Climate strategy. Our western energy strategies and our broader climate and energy strategies are fully integrated. You may want to visit Energy and Climate and Energy and Climate strategies for more information.

Building broad support for western conservation
We realize our goals are shared by many and that the most effective way to make progress toward them is to work with as many stakeholders as possible. Through grantmaking to organizations, we support efforts to engage people and communities outside the traditional environmental movement. Our strategies call for grantmaking to organizations that work with a broad base of people and organizations, from doctors to day laborers, from tribal leaders to hunters and fishers, all with a stake in conserving the West for generations to come.

The Environment Program accepts Letters of Inquiry for its Western Conservation grantmaking. See Environment Program Grantseekers for information about our approach to grantmaking and Western Conservation grant guidelines for specific information about our priorities.

While the Foundation's grants may be used to support public education, nonpartisan research and analysis, and permissible policy-related activities, the Foundation does not earmark its funds for IRS-defined lobbying activities, which is prohibited by federal law.