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Here in California, we’re lucky enough to have some of the most spectacular natural landscapes in the world. I grew up on the East Coast, and while I will always have a soft spot for the Blue Ridge Mountains and Chesapeake Bay, the sheer beauty of California’s beaches, mountains, and deserts is pretty breathtaking. The millions of acres of parks in the state are a resource that all Californians can access and appreciate, and that is in large part thanks to conservation efforts and land trusts that ensure public land stays public.
Public land is important in many ways, but most notably it allows residents areas to be physically active and engage with their environment. Our parks are a public resource that needs to be protected, and there are many individuals and organizations across the state trying to do just that.
For today’s Tuesday Tidbits, we’re looking at a new report from the California Council of Land Trusts’ (CCLT) California Horizons Committee, Conservation Horizons: Keeping Conservation and Land Trusts Vital for the Next Age. As the culmination of 18 months of work, the report examines the current state of land trusts in California and offers recommendations for modernizing the conservation movement to coincide with the state’s changing demographics, politics, and funding.
The report focuses on four priority areas for conservation work: land, communities, people, and partners. Their goals range from the traditional protecting and conserving of the land, to new ideas like increasing access for those in low-income and “park-poor” areas and improving pathways into the conservation workforce for communities of color. There are also a number of recommendations for how land trusts can operate and work together in an era of diminishing revenues and resources to ensure that conservation efforts continue in the future.
They are also serious about emphasizing health in their work. Recently, CPEHN was asked to speak at the CCLT annual conference about the connection of open space to health. We shared data from our Landscape of Opportunity report, and some findings from our A Forecast for Equity convenings in the fall. Solange Gould of UC Berkeley also presented on the climate change and public health framework she co-developed with Dr. Linda Rudolph of the Public Health Institute’s Center for Climate Change and Public Health. We were given a warm welcome by land conservationists and hope to continue the dialogue in the future.
One of the most interesting aspects of the report is the local conservation success stories collected by the committee over the last 18 months. For example:
Palos Verdes Peninsula Land Conservancy has brought the beauty and knowledge of nature and cultural history to touch the lives of virtually every third grader in their local school system for nearly 20 years. Working today with 23 local schools, the Conservancy’s Third Grade Naturalist Program gives students a rich, multi-faceted experience they will carry with them into adulthood. The program begins with in-class sessions complete with touchable objects and visual aids, which is then followed by a nature walk to study plants and animals in their natural habitat.
There’s so much in this report it’s hard to do it justice in just a short blog post. If you’re interested in protecting California’s public lands, I recommend checking it out so you can know more about what’s being done across the state to ensure that Californians for generations to come will be able to marvel at what we’re able to marvel at today.