This week, the Board of Trustees of the Conservation Lands Foundation elected Mark Headley as our Chair, and Hilary Tompkins, Greg Moore, and Chris Killingsworth as Vice Chairs. Our Board of Trustees elected me as a Trustee Emeritus. These changes in leadership are the product of the deliberate, considered governance that has been the hallmark of the Conservation Lands Foundation since the very beginning.
Serving as Chair of the Conservation Lands Foundation has been the greatest blessing of my personal and professional life. As I step down as Chair, I resist the temptation to recite the achievements of the Conservation Lands Foundation's first 15 years because those successes are too numerous to list and because what we have accomplished has been entirely the product of the effort and dedication of our entire board and staff and the generosity of the foundations and individuals who have provided sustained financial support.
The Conservation Lands Foundation was founded on the simple proposition that places with natural, cultural, and historic value are best protected if there are individuals and groups who know and care for that place, who will stand as its advocate, who will be the necessary constant presence and the countervailing force against those who would harm those values and if those individuals and organizations are linked together and reinforce each as part of a larger movement. We looked at the map of the United States' federal public lands and saw that the 248 million acres managed by the Bureau of Land Management presented the most significant conservation opportunity and the opportunity to engage the participation and engagement of local communities - or what President Theodore Roosevelt called "the essential democracy" of our public lands. That founding proposition has proved out.
Today, the Bureau of Land Management's National Conservation Lands encompasses approximately 35 million acres of National Monuments, National Conservation Areas, Wilderness and Wilderness Study Areas, National Historic and Scenic Trails, Wild and Scenic Rivers, and Conservation Lands in the California Desert. The Conservation Lands Foundation works closely with and supports more than 80 local organizations in our Friends Grassroots Network. Moreover, and what really matters to me, we are poised and ready to add another 20 million acres in 23 landscapes to the National Conservation Lands.
Our country faces enormous challenges - loss of biodiversity, climate change, and deep political divisions. The Conservation Lands Foundation gives me daily optimism. We have a focused mission and strategy. Our staff stands unrivaled in their knowledge, skill, and dedication. The Friends Grassroots Network includes partnerships with Tribal and diverse communities. The Board of Trustees is actively engaged in the fiduciary responsibilities of good governance, keeping our organization true to its mission and our values.
Over the long course of conservation history in the United States, our public lands have proven to be a unifying force, providing us with a common sense of who we are as a people.
Thank you all,
Edward Norton, Sr.
To learn more about this announcement, read Conservation Lands Foundation press release here.