NEEF and Toyota Award Grants to Improve Long-Term Sustainability of Public Lands
April 18, 2019

Grants totaling $100,000 will support nonprofit organizations working to bolster the resilience of public lands while engaging and educating local communities

In the wake of extreme weather events, many communities are still working to repair damages, restore and protect their public lands. To further these efforts, the National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF) and Toyota Motor North America, awarded $100,000 in mini-grants of up to $8,000 each. 

The grantees will lead service events that either restore public lands and/or make those lands more resilient to future natural disasters. Grant-funded activities will mobilize community volunteers and educate participants about their role in protecting the long-term sustainability of their local public lands.

Beacon Food Forest

“This set of grants continues the sustained effort to restore and fortify public lands,” said Meri-Margaret Deoudes, CEO and president of NEEF. “They focus on engaging and involving the local community, which is vital to ensuring the projects are successful and sustained.”

This is the second of two sets of grants that NEEF and Toyota have distributed for the restoration and resilience of public lands. The Restoration & Resilience grants, totaling $200,000 in grants of up to $20,000 each, were awarded last year. “Supporting community initiatives helps to scale up conservation efforts,” said Kevin Butt, general manager, Toyota Environmental Sustainability. “By preserving and restoring habitat and protecting vulnerable species, we can help build healthy ecosystems so that future generations may continue to enjoy the natural wonders of our world.” 

Grants were given to groups working in various ways to improve resilience of public lands in their communities:

Planting native trees and plant species

  • Mississippi Park Connection in St. Paul, Minnesota, will improve the ecological habitat through volunteer tree planting in the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area.
  • Palos Verdes Peninsula Land Conservancy in Rolling Hills Estate, California, will install 500 native plants that will function as erosion control, runoff capture and carbon sequestration in the White Point Nature Preserve.
  • Friends of the Chicago River in Chicago, Illinois, will be removing non-native species from the Cook County Forest Preserves to improve biodiversity.
  • Livable Buckhead in Atlanta, Georgia, will contribute to a larger project of transitioning the newly-formed City Park's vegetation from invasive species to a sustainable forest over a 10-year period.

Recovering wildlife habitat 

  • Nature in the City in San Francisco, California, has volunteers conducting plantings that will connect and enlarge the habitats of the once-threatened green hairstreak butterfly populations in the Green Hairstreak Corridor.
  • Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust in Seattle, Washington, will lead a coalition of non-profits to work towards creating a balance between outdoor recreation and ecological integrity in the popular Middle Fork Snoqualmie Valley.

Removing invasive plants

  • Institute for Environmental Solutions in Denver, Colorado, will design an educational planting program to improve native habitat resilience and teach about local ecology in the Wheat Ridge Greenbelt.
  • Greater Farallones Association in San Francisco, California, will enhance Kent Island's ability to protect Bolinas Lagoon, an internationally recognized estuary, by removing invasive plants.

Rain/flood water management

  • Food Forest Collective in Seattle, Washington will hold volunteer projects to install rain gardens and bioswales (landscape elements designed to concentrate or remove debris and pollution out of surface runoff water) in the Beacon Hill Reservoir.
  • Hermann Park Conservancy in Houston, Texas, will restore the education ponds in Bayou Parkland after being affected by excessive rain and flooding from Hurricane Harvey in 2017.

Education and community

  • Bolsa Chica Conservancy in Huntington Beach, California, is conducting an interactive STEM-based education and restoration program that combines the study of wetland ecology with hands-on restoration in the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve.
  • Rocky Mountain Wild in Denver, Colorado, will educate local community members through hands-on experience about the need for and importance of habitat connectivity (allowing limited-range species to shift habitats to adjacent areas if populations experience loss of habitat) for wildlife in the Forest Preserves of Cook County.
  • Maxwell Street Community Garden in Chicago, Illinois, will help relocate a community garden that will become a source of fresh organic food for a diverse, west-side Chicago neighborhood.

Find out more information on the NEEF grants.