The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation in Palo Alto, California, has announced a three-year, $15 million three-to-one challenge grant to help fund five conservation organizations working to preserve and protect 80,000 acres of lands in coastal California over the next twenty years. In addition, the David and Lucille Packard Foundation in nearby Los Altos awarded $500,000 to the project, the Mercury News reports.
Through the Living Landscape Initiative, the five organizations — the Nature Conservancy, the Land Trust of Santa Cruz County, the Peninsula Open Space Trust, the Save the Redwoods League, and the Sempervirens Fund — will work together to develop detailed computer maps that highlight wildlife corridors for deer, elk, mountain lions, and other species and will focus their efforts on those areas most at risk for development. According to the Mercury News, the groups plan to purchase land that can be added to state parks from willing sellers and will look to purchase development rights to other parcels, particularly farmland, while leaving those properties in private hands.
Given the magnitude of California's financial problems, government funding for such an effort is increasingly hard to come by. Indeed, the California state parks department has announced that it will close dozens of parks as a result of the state's budget crisis.
Moore Foundation president Steve McCormick told the Mercury News that the audacious effort, which could cost as much as $600 million by 2031, has the potential to attract new donors, particularly younger technology executives, to land conservation.
"With the significant falloff in the real estate market and falloff in prices, there's an opportunity to act with some real strategic commitment rather than in a reactive way," said McCormick. "Let's secure these places forever, because things will rebound, and prices will go up. We have a rare opportunity."