October 9, 2010
Bob Marshall was a hero for wilderness, especially Alaskan wilderness. As an early head of Recreation Management with the Forest Service in the 1930s, Marshall was one of the first to suggest that primitive and unconfined lands needed to be protected for the future. Along with other fathers of conservation like Aldo Leopold, he helped found the Wilderness Society, which worked to create the 1964 Wilderness Act.
The Bob Marshall Award for Champions of Wilderness is one of the Forest Service’s highest honors given to organizations and individuals who, like Marshall himself, make bold and creative moves to preserve our nation’s unique and vital wilderness resource. This year, ACF grantee Sitka Conservation Society (SCS) received the award. SCS was founded in 1967 to protect portions of the Tongass National Forest, the nation’s largest national forest containing nearly half of the world’s remaining intact coastal temperate rainforest.
Two of SCS’s founders, Chuck and Alice Johnstone, now in their 80s, attended the award ceremony to accept the prestigious award. “We’re thrilled. It is wonderful milestone in Sitka and within the Forest Service,” said Alice Johnstone. “Forty years ago when we started our work we never dreamed we’d see a day like this, when the Forest Service and our group would be standing together to celebrate the beauty and wilderness of the Tongass National Forest.”
The award is a very important benchmark for conservation on the Tongass National Forest and serves to demonstrate how the efforts of SCS are changing social values and norms around Wilderness conservation in Alaska. At the time that SCS was founded in the sixties, the Tongass was ruled by the politics of the pulp industry. Inspired by the recent passage of the 1964 Wilderness Act, a group of Sitkans made the unpopular decision to draft Alaska’s first citizen-initiated Wilderness Proposal to preserve the islands, muskegs and mountains they loved. They succeeded, despite vehement opposition by powerful interests, including the Forest Service. The result was the West Chichagof-Yakobi Wilderness Area.
Since the designation of West Chichag of Wilderness and near-by South Baranof Wilderness, SCS has focused on continuing the tradition of wilderness stewardship pioneered by our founders with projects like the Community Wilderness Stewardship Project, which connects citizens with their wilderness to collect baseline ecological and solitude data; Echoes of the Tongass, a wilderness focused film sponsored by SCS; and a City resolution recognizing the economic value of wilderness to Sitka.
Get more information about the Bob Marshall Award now.
September 29, 2010
When their wildlife, lands and waters were contaminated by military, mining and municipal waster, the indigenous nations of the Yukon River basin in Canada and Alaska joined forces to protect and heal the watershed. A team of filmmakers followed their journey, which resulted in a series of films including “We Live by the River,” the fourth in the series.
“We Live by the River” premieres in Toronto at the world’s largest environmental film festival, Planet in Focus, on Saturday, October 16, 2010 at 5:45 pm at the Al Green Theatre. Moviegoers are invited to join ACF Board member Faon O’Connor after the screening for a Q&A session. ACF grantee Yukon River Inter-Tribal Watershed Council as well as the EPA helped to fund the production.
Get film dates and locations here.
September 7, 2010
Do you know an outstanding female conservationist? The YWCA is calling for nominations for their annual Women of Achievement Awards. Each year they recognize women who are providing leadership and service to our community. Deadline: October 8, 2010.
Visit YWCA online to learn more.
September 7, 2010
As part of ACF’s Community Capacity initiative, ACF is sponsoring staff from the Alaska Youth for Environmental Action (AYEA) program to experience SOUL’s facilitator training that uses popular education and community organizing techniques.
Since 1996, the School of Unity & Liberation (SOUL) has trained more than 6,000 youth and community organizers, educators, and activists in radical political education and essential organizing skills. A great resource for organizations that frequently train staff as well as youth and adult volunteer activists in community organizing and civic engagement.
Learn more now.
August 31, 2010
Celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge through photography! Enter and get your image(s) published in a 2011 calendar that will celebrate 50 years of Arctic Refuge Wilderness as it looks forward to the next 50 – 500 years of protection as pristine special place as part of our national heritage.
The deadline to enter has been extended to September 15th. Get more information now!
August 25, 2010
ACF grantee REAP is bringing back free monthly forums at the Anchorage Museum! And they’re kicking off on September 8th from 6-8 p.m. by delving into the land of biodiesel, specifically taking a look at the new, large-scale biodiesel plant that opened off Dowling Road in Anchorage in June. The plant, run by Alaska Waste, is collecting used cooking oil from more than 200 restaurants and businesses like the Peanut Farm, Lucky Wishbone and McDonald’s and turning it into biodiesel to run its trucks. (So that means your fry grease is now powering the garbage trucks around town!)
Come find out more about the plant and how biodiesel is made with our presenter, Jeff Jessen of Alaska Green Waste Solutions. Jeff will discuss the plant’s operation, plans for using an estimated 200,000 plus gallons a year of biodiesel, and the benefits of biodiesel economically and environmentally. He’ll also discuss Alaska Waste’s ongoing composting program, which is turning more than 36,000 pounds a week of horse manure, wood chips and produce into compost. September 8, 2010 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Anchorage Museum. For more information or to sign up for the live podcast, contact Renewable Energy Alaska Project (REAP) at 929-7770 or email: s.nowers@REalaska.org.
August 17, 2010
Alaska Conservation Foundation awarded a record-breaking $4.1 million worth of grants in the year ending June 30, easily putting it among the state’s top 10 philanthropic institutions. The only public foundation in Alaska dedicated to protecting Alaska’s environment, ACF made a total of 159 grants to 62 groups across the state, from Anchorage to the village of Kwigillingok in the Bering Sea region.
“We’re proud of the vital conservation work performed by groups across the state, and that we were able to bring them record amounts of support,” says Nick Hardigg, executive director. “By taking care of our lands and waters, we can ensure that Alaskans can maintain the quality of life that we have enjoyed for generations.”
ACF grants helped win a preliminary key legal victory in the struggle to protect Bristol Bay, the world’s largest sockeye salmon fishery, from the proposed Pebble Mine. In a case pursued by grantee Trustees for Alaska, a court rejected the state’s claim that it can issue mine exploration permits without giving public notice or evaluating potential harm to the public interest.
Another area where ACF’s support played a key role is Alaska’s dramatic new commitment to expand renewable energy. By 2025, the state officially plans to get 50 percent of its electricity from renewable sources. Alaska’s comprehensive new energy policy also includes huge investments in energy efficiency programs. The state aims for 15 percent energy efficiency gains per capita by 2020.
“Bipartisan bills passed in the legislature this year make Alaska a leader in the nation’s transition to a clean energy economy,” says Hardigg. “That success was due to the hard work of many people including ACF grantees, and we’re proud to have played a key role in advancing solutions to long-standing problems.”
ACF also provides training for conservation groups and their leaders, to help them be more effective.
“Conservationists have great passion and expertise on issues, and they work incredibly hard,” says Vice-Chair Nancy Lord, “but many of them can use additional support to run a successful organization.”
To that end, this year ACF co-sponsored a week-long Environmental Leadership Institute. Thirty conservation leaders at the helm of critical conservation issues attended the rigorous training on strategic planning and campaign building.
ACF’s internship program, now in its 11th year, continues to attract emerging leaders. This summer, 26 enthusiastic and energetic interns, from Alaska and elsewhere, are gaining hands-on career experience in environmental protection while the extra staff power helps conservation groups stretch their limited budgets.
“ACF is a great partner—their support helps us to be a more effective organization and voice for Alaska conservation,” says Karen Max Kelly of the Northern Alaska Environmental Center. “They funded our national search for a new executive director, and enabled us to send our colleagues to a national conference on mining pollution. ACF is an important source of financial support.”
Individual philanthropists look to ACF to ensure their money is used effectively in Alaska. “I know that our contributions provide leverage to the conservation community where and when they are needed the most,” says Richard Monkman, a long-time supporter from Juneau, Alaska. “ACF is an effective catalyst for change across Alaska.”
“For 30 years ACF has played an important role supporting the Alaskans and the Alaska groups that are working at the front lines,” says ACF executive director Hardigg. “It’s their voice that is most important, and we work to empower it.”
Founded in 1980 by legendary Alaska conservationists Celia Hunter and Denny Wilcher, ACF is a public foundation dedicated to connecting philanthropists and foundations worldwide to Alaska’s grassroots conservation organizations. Over the past 30 years, ACF has made more than $33 million of grants to conservation causes in Alaska and has an endowment of $5 million.
July 30, 2010
Your next fly fishing trip to Bristol Bay may be guided by a local Alaska Native teenager! In August, 14 Native youth will attend the Bristol Bay Flyfishing and Guide Academy in Ekwok, a remote subsistence community located on the Nushagak River. Thanks in part to support from ACF, the students will learn the business of recreational fishing and guiding. The program also enlists Native elders, conservation organizations, and state and federal fisheries to incorporate traditional knowledge and fish ecology. Trout Unlimited along with the Nature Conservancy will make presentations on conservation and habitat protection. Today, most fishing guides come from the Lower 48. The program is designed to keep young people in the region by allowing them to earn a prosperous living while advocating for healthy watersheds and offering visitors an authentic fishing experience.
Read more about this program, or sponsor one of the youth.
July 26, 2010
Community Tool Box is sponsoring the 2010 Out of the Box Prize, which will honor promising initiatives that improve community health and development. The Grand Prize will be $5,000 in cash, plus a free customized Workstation designed specifically for your group. A second prize will be $2,000 in cash, with a free WorkStation. To learn more, click here.
The opening date for applications is August 1, with a closing date of October 31.
July 8, 2010
What are the places you love in your community? Are there efforts underway to protect these areas? How can we better support modern-day land and water conservation?
These are just a few of the questions the Obama administration is asking as part of the “America’s Great Outdoors” initiative. Congressional and agency representatives are currently hosting sessions around the country and are welcoming comments online. Find out if there is a meeting in your area, or submit your ideas online!