Photo: Lynn Yeh/Shutterstock

8 Organizations Fighting to Conserve California's Land and Wildlife

by Hayley Goerisch Dec 14, 2016

1. Save the Redwoods League

The Save the Redwoods League works in conjunction with state and national parks to save the primeval redwood forests of California. Around since the beginning of the 20th century, the Save the Redwoods league has established redwood preserves and groves, supported reforestation and conservation of forest areas, and purchased redwood groves from private owners. Current projects include preserving 77 acres of land at the Elk River headwaters, a rare pygmy redwood forest, and the North Coast initiative, an interagency collaborative project that protects and restores thousands of acres of old-growth redwoods. Save the Redwoods encourages volunteering, donations, and seedling planting as ways to support their organization.

2. Center for Natural Lands Management

Founded in 1990, The Center for Natural Lands Management strives to conserve California native species and their habitats. They protect lands through science-based land stewardship, which is the use and protection of land through conservation and sustainable practices; this can include restoring native species to their habitat, protecting at-risk natives, and practicing sustainable grazing practices. Their protection covers more than 75 natural preserves all over California, and they also have a branch in Washington. Ways to get involved include volunteer opportunities at several preserves as well as donations.

3. Ventana Wilderness Alliance

The Ventana Wilderness Alliance has been around since 1998 and protects a significant portion of Central California’s coast from the northern Santa Lucia Mountains down the Big Sur Coast. Rugged and isolated, this area contains some of California’s most spectacular coastline. The Ventana Wilderness Alliance not only works to protect this area by expanding federal wilderness and river designations in the area, but they also maintain a trail network, preserve archaeological sites in the area, and work to clean up and restore illegal marijuana grow sites. You can get involved by donating, joining a trail maintenance meetup, or becoming a volunteer wilderness ranger.

4. Save the Bay

Save the Bay is the largest regional organization working to protect and restore the San Francisco Bay. Around since 1961, Save the Bay has continued their efforts to restore more than 100,000 acres of tidal marshes around the bay and protect the bay from further pollution and shore development. Their organization supports the ban of plastic bags and styrofoam, encourages cities to ban outdoor smoking to reduce cigarette butt litter, and organizes waterway clean up days. There are a number of ways for individuals and corporations to get involved with Save the Bay, including corporate sponsorship, shoreline cleanup and marsh plant restoration, and a fellowship program for those interested in becoming more involved with environmental non-profit agencies.

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5. American River Conservancy

The American River Conservancy is a non-profit organization located in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada. The American River Conservancy purchases or acquires land from private landowners and then transfers it over to the public domain. They preserve natural resources and promote habitat restoration in the Upper American River and Cosumnes River watersheds in order to safeguard riparian environments and ensure better water quality for the San Joaquin Valley and the rest of California. Land conserved through the American River Conservancy protects a number of rare and endangered native plant species. Additionally, many of the lands conserved are used for low impact recreational activities including hiking, mountain biking, and river rafting. There’s a number of ways to get involved with the American River Conservancy: volunteer workdays at the river headwaters, gardening at the Wakamatsu demonstration garden, or volunteering with the nature center if you prefer to be indoors.

6. California Native Plant Society

The California Native Plant Society protects California native plants and their habitats. They use their organization to increase understanding, appreciation, and horticulture of native plants. Conservation projects at the California Native Plant Society focus on regional conservation planning, native plant conservation in forest environments, control of invasives and exotics, and policies regarding native plant conservation. The education branch of the organization educates through their plant science training program, conferences, and grant programs; they provide a botanist certificate and a grade-school-aged curriculum on native plants. California Native Plant Society supports gardeners and homeowners with their native plant gardening program. To get involved, volunteers can assist with a range of activities from assisting at chapter plant sales to starting a school garden. Interested parties should contact their local chapter office.

7. Pinnacles Partnership

The Pinnacles Partnership is a friends-of-the park organization associated with Pinnacles National Park. The Pinnacles Partnership started as an informal organization in the late 1890’s. As an organization, they work in conjunction with the national park to support the park’s mission of education, resource management, and visitor experiences at the park.This organization, in particular, works to protect the previously endangered California condor which makes its home at Pinnacles National Park. Their current projects include the restoration of Bear Valley School, the Pinnacles Condor Fund, and the San Benito Working Landscapes Group. They support national park staff with trail clearance and informational programs for visitors and campers. To get involved, interested parties can volunteer with special events and information table staffing.

8. Mojave Desert Lands Trust

Mojave Desert Lands Trust conserves over 60,000 acres of desert habitat. They work in conjunction with desert community members, national and state park agencies, federal wilderness agencies, and partner organizations. Mojave Desert Lands Trust purchases private lands and sets up permanent land use monitoring, habitat restoration, and the removal of invasive species. The organization provides educational outreach by leading guided hikes and hosting lectures and workshops. Specific areas of conservation include lands within in the Death Valley Wilderness, the Mojave National Preserve, Joshua Tree National Park, and numerous wilderness areas in the Mojave Desert. If you want to help, the Mojave Desert Lands Trust is always looking for volunteers to assist with their land stewardship team, collecting and cleaning up desert lands after purchase, assisting with new and ongoing projects such as desert mapping and vegetation plots, and planting seedlings.

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