From 1995–2020, we invested more than $65 million and supported over 500 organizations working to protect the air, land, and water of our region.
We met remarkable people, witnessed inspiring achievements, and supported work that will continue long after we close. While this list of milestones is by no means complete, it is a snapshot of some of the accomplishments that made us proud.*
Launched in partnership with the Bullitt Foundation, Online Networking for the Environment/Northwest (later known as Groundwire) helped hundreds of organizations in our region learn how to use technology more effectively. Its services included hands-on training, technical assistance, coaching, and strategy support.
With renewed threats of oil and gas drilling and development in this national treasure, the foundation helped rally fellow grant-makers to its defense and supported a robust public awareness campaign. This led to an unprecedented level of collaboration among foundations and grantees that will continue beyond our close.
We tapped scientists to deepen our understanding of conservation biology and shared new tools with other foundations that led to a more strategic set of shared priorities. At the same time, we expanded investments in capacity-building tools, helping groups communicate more effectively, improve their fundraising, and better understand the changing economics of the region.
Strategic public education efforts led to a new Montana law outlawing open-pit, cyanideleach mining. Subsequent attempts to amend or repeal it were unsuccessful.
We provided seed funding when a respected natural resources communications team proposed opening an office on the west coast. The team that became Resource Media grew deep roots in the community and has become a trusted and invaluable advisor to groups throughout the Northwest.
The Montana Supreme Court reaffirmed unanimously that Montana's constitutional right to a clean and healthful environment is a fundamental right that is intended to be both anticipatory and preventative in nature.
Demonstrating a core belief in the power of unrestricted, multi-year funding, we awarded a series of large multi-year grants designed to bolster the capacity of key organizations in our region.
The designation of the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument created the first and only national monument established specifically to protect biological diversity. The monument, which has since more than doubled in size to nearly 115,000 acres, is home to more than 3,500 species of plants and animals, many endemic and rare.
Following years of policy discussions and advocacy, the Roadless Areas Protection Rule safeguarded 50 million acres of unroaded federal land from development; these areas represented some of the best remaining wildlife and fisheries habitat in the United States.
By a nearly 60 percent margin, voters in Boise approved a $10 million levy to protect open space and conserve natural resources. A broadly supported bi-partisan campaign, this partnership between nonprofits, elected representatives, and citizens established a model for Boise's future.
Organizations in Washington state agreed to coordinate their advocacy by working toward a small set of shared policy priorities. Now known as the Environmental Priorities Coalition, their model of collaboration was so effective it was adopted by other groups in our region and across the country.
In spite of a pro-resource extraction federal administration, grantees held the line on mining in Bristol Bay and the Taku River Watershed and logging in the Tongass National Forest. And they successfully fought to keep the Northwest Forest Plan intact, block the boundary reduction of the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument, and protect the Arctic from drilling.
Advocates for mining reform persuaded Tiffany & Company to play a leadership role in a campaign to educate consumers about the harmful impacts of gold mining, and the need for industry-wide reforms.
After a half-decade of ballot measure efforts in several western states that aimed to define environmental protections as illegal government regulatory takings, conservation leaders in Idaho ran a highly successful statewide "No Vote" campaign, prevailing by an astounding 76 percent. This was the highest margin of defeat for any taking measure in the country.
After a decade-long struggle, the British Columbia government and First Nations announced conservation agreements for the Great Bear Rainforest. A full 33 percent of the area's 15.5 million acres was set aside in protected areas (increased to 38 percent in 2016). The remaining two-thirds were subject to stringent logging restrictions.
Environmental coalitions working on shared priorities achieved all of their policy priorities. In Washington, this included the Clean Air–Clean Fuels, Save Our Sound, and Eliminating Toxic Flame Retardants priorities. In Oregon, coalition wins included renewable fuels, clean and renewable energy targets, and a statewide electronics recycling program.
The first new area to gain National Wilderness protections in more than twenty years in Washington State was signed into law.
In Idaho, conservation advocates successfully identified the Nation's largest source of mercury pollution: gold processing facilities in Nevada. This led to stricter rules in Nevada, Idaho and, ultimately, the entire country.
After a decades-long, collaborative effort, the Milltown Dam near Missoula was finally removed. The old reservoir that had held a century's worth of mine waste is now a restored floodplain, and the confluence of the Clark Fork and Blackfoot rivers is open for fish to migrate and people to enjoy.
The largest land protection package in 25 years designated more than two million acres of land as Wilderness and over 1,000 miles of Wild and Scenic Rivers and advanced conservation in nearly every state. In the Northwest, it protected the Owyhee Canyonlands of Idaho, the Badlands and Spring Basin areas of Central Oregon, and the Soda Mountain Wilderness in southwest Oregon.
A coalition of public and private entities achieved what may be the largest and most complicated conservation project in U.S. history, placing 310,000 acres of lands previously owned by Plum Creek Timber into public ownership and erasing a fractured pattern of ownership, thereby allowing management to better benefit wildlife, water, and rural landowners.
It is difficult for foundations to get honest, critical feedback from their grantees, so we hired the Center for Effective Philanthropy to conduct an independent confidential assessment of how well we were serving our grantee community. We included questions about how we could help our grantees as we prepared to spend out our endowment.
Major oil companies voluntarily retired more than 200,000 acres of oil and gas leases in the U.S. Flathead River Watershed, taking inspiration from an agreement of the previous year that prevented coal mining and oil and gas development on nearly 400,000 acres in British Columbia.
The Taku River Tlingit First Nation and British Columbia government established land protection measures for the Nation's ancestral lands in Northwest B.C., safeguarding more than seven million acres from commercial logging and fully protecting over two million acres as First Nation Conservancies. Fully implemented, the land use plan protected more than 26 percent of the plan area.
The U.S. Supreme Court denied Wyoming's request for review of the Roadless Rule, which protected 46 million acres of pristine national forest lands. This put to rest the more than ten-year campaign to defend this landmark conservation achievement.
Multi-year foundation investments paid big dividends when groups working in the Crown of the Continent received $50 million of federal funding for restoration of public forest land, and groups in the High Divide were awarded more than $100 million for private land restoration and conservation easements.
The first nine fellows entered this program aimed at increasing the quality and extent of their influence in our region. They represented the first of eight cohorts of fellows. The fellowship incorporated classroom and independent study, mentorships, field trips, and grantmaking.
A landmark legal victory led to a stronger interpretation of Canada's federal Species at Risk Act and produced what may be the strongest precedent ever won in the practice of environmental public interest law in Canada. Following this victory, every species at risk case that was fought ensured that the Act was interpreted as strongly as possible.
With the North Fork Protection Act, Montana saw its first new Wilderness in 31 years, comprising 575,000 acres in the Flathead River Watershed near Glacier National Park. In addition, the Rocky Mountain Front Heritage Act brought increased protection to 275,000 acres in Montana, while in Washington State, the Alpine Lakes Wilderness was expanded by 22,000 acres.
With significant new multi-year investments from several foundations, conservation leaders in Alaska built a mobilization center and an integrated campaign hub for coordinated work toward shared priorities, including preventing the proposed Pebble Mine in Bristol Bay, the Chuitna Coal Mine, and the Susitna Dam.
Legislators reauthorized the state's precedent-setting Clean Fuels Program, despite intense opposition from the oil industry. Over the life of the program, it is expected to reduce 8.4 million metric tons of climate pollution, the equivalent of removing 1.8 million cars from the road.
In Idaho, more than 270,000 acres of the Boulder–White Cloud Mountains were protected as Wilderness, demonstrating the importance of long-term, unrelenting strategies and broad community-based coalitions in land protection campaigns.
After advocates brought more voices to the table, Alaska's elected leaders abandoned efforts to put a mega hydroelectric dam on the wild Susitna River, the nation's fourth longest undammed river and home to five species of salmon. The dam would have flooded 40,000 acres of prime recreation and hunting lands near Denali National Park.
Two major U.S. coal-based power producers filed for bankruptcy as the outdated coal industry faced increased operating costs, cheaper competition, and campaigns to eliminate their carbon-spewing footprint. In Montana, advocates won an agreement to retire two out of four coal-burning power units at the second-largest coal-fired power plant west of the Mississippi.
Oregon's Automatic Voter Registration program went into effect, automatically registering eligible voters when they renew or apply for a driver's license or state ID.
After nearly a decade of dedicated advocacy by thousands of Alaskans in support of healthy fisheries, cultural preservation, and community sustainability, the company behind the proposed Chuitna mine suspended its efforts to permit the project. What would have been the largest strip mine in Alaska jeopardized wild salmon in exchange for low-grade coal.
Alaska took a massive step forward to ensure that all of its citizens have access to the ballot box. Over 65 percent of Alaska voters supported enfranchising all eligible voters when they approved a measure to implement automatic voter registration throughout the state.
Washington's governor rejected the Vancouver Energy project, the last remaining undecided oil terminal proposed for a Northwest port. In the course of a decade, coordinated community opposition defeated eight proposed oil terminals and seven proposed coal terminals in the Pacific Northwest, maintaining what has become known as The Thin Green Line.
Washington's governor signed a suite of bills to combat climate change, including legislation to rid Washington's electric grid of fossil-fuel-generated power by 2045, as well as bills requiring stronger conservation standards for energy use in large new buildings, new efficiency standards for appliances, a phase-out of "super pollutant" hydrofluorocarbons, and new measures to protect orca whales and salmon.
Idaho Power vowed to stop using coal energy and rely instead on clean sources by 2045. The utility also agreed to stop using two coal-fired power plants by 2025 and is planning to shut down its third and final coal plant at a yet-to-bedetermined date.
Early in 2019, Congress approved the John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act. This far-reaching conservation legislation designated more than 1.3 million acres of new wilderness, protected two national parks from nearby mining, protected 621 miles of Wild and Scenic Rivers, expanded eight national parks, and permanently reauthorized the Land and Water Conservation Fund.
In Canada's Yukon Territory, a new land use plan was approved, protecting the Peel Watershed, an area more than six times the size of Yellowstone National Park. (Our foundation supported work in the Yukon for several years and our early investments helped seed this effort.)
The Kaska Nation was granted initial federal funding to further protect nearly 10 million acres in and around the Muskwa-Kechika Special Management Area in northern B.C. The scale of the foundation's investment in the Muskwa-Kechika was significant and spanned more than two decades.
In southeastern British Columbia, the Ktunaxa Nation received federal funding to develop the Qat'muk Indigenous Protected and Conserved Area in the Purcell Mountains, which will be more than 2.5 times the size of New York City. As a result, development rights for a long-disputed, proposed ski resort in the Jumbo Valley were fully and permanently extinguished.
* Our grantmaking was given only for tax-exempt purposes; our grantees did not use any portion of our funding to participate in any electoral campaign or for any noncharitable purpose.