2021 was another transformative year at The Conservation Alliance. We experienced record growth in our business membership and awarded $2.2 million in funding. We launched new programs, including our first-ever multi-year grants and Confluence Program. We also grew our team, adding three new staff and four new board members.
Here’s a summary of our progress during this pivotal year:
In 2021, Conservation Alliance funding and advocacy helped 13 projects cross the finish line, resulting in permanent protection for 291,300 acres, 4 river miles, and one climbing area. Our grantees also removed one dam and created the first state park in Baja California, Mexico.
In addition to the successes delivered by our grantees, we celebrated restored protection for Bears Ears National Monument in Utah and Bristol Bay, Alaska. We were thrilled to see a restart to the efforts to permanently protect the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in Minnesota, Chaco Canyon in New Mexico, and Tongass National Forest in Alaska.
2021 was a year for firsts at The Conservation Alliance. We awarded our first multi-year grants—$150,000 to Alaska Wilderness League and Northeastern Minnesotans for Wilderness. In the fall, we launched our new Confluence Program and awarded $200,000 to four grantees in December. Altogether, we awarded a record $2.2 million in grant funding to 56 organizations.
At the outset of 2021, we identified three conservation campaigns as top priorities for The Conservation Alliance. We committed to adding additional support to the campaign to protect the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska, the campaign to protect the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in Minnesota, and the effort to restore protections for the Bears Ears region in Utah. We decided to focus on these three campaigns in part because protecting the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, the Boundary Waters, and Bears Ears means putting Indigenous rights over fossil fuel development, recreation and wildlife habitat over extraction, and intrinsic value over short-term gain.
We hosted our annual Washington, DC fly-in virtually in April 2021, where 40 Conservation Alliance business leaders spanning the outdoor, craft beverage, and renewable energy industries met via Zoom with 38 congressional offices, as well as the White House Council on Environmental Quality and the United States Department of Agriculture. We focused the meetings on our list of priorities and wrapped the four-day event feeling energized and inspired to keep the conversations going.
We welcomed 43 new members (another record!) to The Conservation Alliance in 2021, including Public Lands as our newest Pinnacle member. We added new business members from the outdoor industry, as well as the financial, renewable energy, and beverage sectors.
JUSTICE, EQUITY, DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION
We began our journey to make The Conservation Alliance a more just, equitable, diverse, and inclusive organization in 2020 by launching a task force to lead us and engaging with Marcelo Bonta of J.E.D.I. Heart to facilitate individual, organizational, and systemic change processes. In 2021, we made our commitments public on our website with our JEDI Statement. We focused our efforts on our grant program by launching the Confluence Program. The program’s goal is to intentionally connect to historically racially marginalized people for the protection of natural places.
We developed the Confluence Program because after 32 years, our network of grantee and business partners does not represent a coalition of everyone working to protect natural places. Great things happen when a diverse coalition of voices and perspectives comes together to champion solutions that balance the best interests of land and water, wildlife, and people. Yet, our network of partners includes few groups representing historically racially marginalized people. The Confluence Program is a first step in our efforts to help create new systems and structures that bring all of the groups, organizations, and businesses committed to this work closer together to protect our shared natural places.
We are grateful for the support of our member companies, Leading Edge members, and the other donors who supported our work to protect wild places in 2021.