It hasn’t been so very long since we took our relationship to a new level.
You were appointed our sole shareholder one year ago, which isn’t a lot of time on your geologic and cosmic timescales, something that’s easy to get existential about considering all you’ve done before we were even here. But let’s stay in the present. We see this as a moment of reflection and a moment for a greater human movement to rally on your behalf.
Days after we donated our company to you, we jumped wholeheartedly into the US midterm elections—it’s exciting for us to grant money in ways we couldn’t before. We supported campaigns in Nevada, Pennsylvania and Georgia in order to make progress on land and water conservation, as well as to defend our democracy, which we need to protect you and all the life you nurture. Catherine Cortez Masto, who won an important and very tight race in Nevada, has said, “Our democracy is precious, and we need to do everything we can to strengthen it,” an attitude that applies as much to votes as it does to conservation. There are many allies in this work, and now, under our new ownership arrangement, we can better support leaders like Cortez Masto.
It’s not just the most obvious threats of the climate crisis that need to be addressed. It’s also the protection of a toad that breeds at snowmelt in the Eastern Sierra; the carbon-capture potential of a New England forest; and the safe passage of species through human-impacted landscapes. This is why we were proud to help the Northeast Wilderness Trust in their successful bid to create a 1,400-acre wildlife corridor in upstate New York.
The value of “big little” wins is something our friends in South America have known for years, too. In 2023, the persistence of local and national advocacy groups in Chile and Argentina finally paid off. They won a 33-year-long fight to protect Peninsula Mitre at the continent’s southern tip.
In Alaska, the Dena’ina people led a successful effort to purchase conservation easements in Bristol Bay. These protect key salmon-spawning rivers and prohibit the building of access roads to the recently halted Pebble Mine project. You have to love that one—it protects the most vital salmon habitat left in what we call your Western Hemisphere.
The list of things to come reminds us of why we’re here, doing the work every day. We’re doing this work so that you can feel cool, clean, undammed rivers on your skin and listen to the sounds of millions of birds as they migrate around your circumference. So that you can watch seasons change in cyclical rhythms, rather than the chaos of too much change at once, and taste snowflakes on your tongue and feel the warmth of the sun on your hair. So that we can continue to experience awe at the things you continue to create, even under so much pressure.
There’s an election in 2024 that will have a huge impact on the political leanings of the US and, by extension, the climate policies we can enact. There’s a global biodiversity crisis we’re working to counter by advocating for marine protected areas and public lands, and by continuing our commitment to so many of the issues and fights we’ve been involved in for years—the Tongass, Bears Ears, the Vjosa River, the great forests of Australia.
Saving our home planet is still what we’re most invested in. But we also recognize that your forests and coral reefs and wild creatures will ultimately be fine without us. And that it isn’t finally about saving you at all, but about saving us. We need you. We need you to be OK. And we won’t stop working toward that.
Since the early days of our company, we’ve supported grassroots efforts to protect you. But our new way of doing things hopefully feels more like a partnership and serves to inspire others. We all have a role to play—join us.