Conservation Legacy 2022 Annual Report

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ANNUAL REPORT 2022

conservationlegacy.org


25 YEARS OF CONSERVATION Engaging future leaders who protect, restore, and enhance our nation’s lands through community-based service.

Conservation Legacy operates as a pillar of support for local conservation service programs. Our commitment to delivering top-tier programs in communities nationwide ensures a lasting impact through strategic and tailored efforts.

In 2022, Conservation Legacy actively engaged more than 2,200 individuals, encompassing youth, young adults, and veterans, in a range of conservation, restoration, preservation and community development projects. This collective effort resulted in an impressive contribution of 1.3 million service hours to public lands and local communities. Our programs intricately involve participants in a variety of conservation and community service initiatives. These projects not only serve as avenues for personal and professional growth but also address the critical needs identified by public land managers and community partners. Through close collaboration with

Conservation Legacy is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. Federal Tax ID (EIN): 84-1450808.

partners across the nation, Conservation Legacy is at the forefront of advancing goals related to increased opportunities in conservation, climate change, service, and workforce development. We express profound gratitude for the selfless commitment of young people who dedicate themselves to conservation and service. We acknowledge the unwavering dedication of our veterans, who find purpose and renewed service in improving public lands. Every crew member, crew leader, and individual placement exemplifies the true essence of service, and we are continually inspired by this dedication. The dedication of our staff, the resilience of our participants, and the collective impact achieved through our partnerships fuel our inspiration. As we celebrate the achievements of 2022, we eagerly anticipate the opportunities and challenges that 2023 will bring, confident in our ability to make a positive and lasting difference.



Including crew members, crew leaders, leadership development participants, field staff, individual placements, youth participants, and AmeriCorps VISTA placements.

Over 10,000 applications received for 855 jobs, crew and individual placement service opportunities across Conservation Legacy.

CREW ACCOMPLISHMENTS:

46,615 Acres Improved

996 Miles of Trail Maintained or Built 11,840 Acres of Invasives Removed 239 Miles of Firebreak Created INDIVIDUAL PLACEMENT ACCOMPLISHMENTS:

4,165,603 Acres of Land Mapped or Surveyed 112,196 Acres of Land Improved or Restored 126,405 Volunteers Coordinated or Supported 172,184 Hours Worked by Volunteers 679 Media Features 159 Grants Submitted 50 Grants Awarded Amounting to $940,655

PARTICIPANT DEMOGRAPHICS:

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LOCAL PROGRAMS COMMUNITY BASED LOCAL PROGRAMS Conservation Legacy is now in its 25th year of operation supporting local programs that provide conservation service opportunities for youth, young adults, and veterans to work on public lands and in their communities.

2022 FINANCIALS Total Revenue: $35,189,638

78% PROGRAM

16% GRANTS

OTHER

Total Expenses: $33,293,337

79% PROGRAM

18% MANAGEMENT/GENERAL

OTHER

*For a full financial statement, please visit www.conservationlegacy.org.

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IN JANUARY 2022, the Partnership

for the National Trails System (PNTS) launched the Native Lands, National Trails (NLNT) project to provide space for Indigenous voices. In collaboration with the Bureau of Land Management, Native Land Digital (NLD) and Ancestral Lands Conservation Corps, Indigenous nations, communities and organizations are being invited into the conversation to help steward, provide Indigenous ways of knowing, and histories/stories that have been excluded previously on public lands. The National Trails System was established in 1968 and now includes 30 National Scenic and Historic Trails. Many of these trails were first Indigenous sacred landscapes, and they still contain the stories of the ancient and historic trade routes of present-day Indigenous cultures. Through mapping analysis and outreach, this project highlights these traditional territories along National Trails and starts a dialogue with Indigenous communities that will help promote involvement in future conversations, projects and decisions made in regards to National Trails. Many of these trails were used previously by Indigenous cultures that continue to have ancestral ties to current landscapes. The intent of this map is to provide a broad perspective of just how many communities the NTS crosses and to start crucial conversations about impacts, engagement and inclusivity.

Ancestral Lands Conservation Corps Individual Placement Kiana Etsate-Gashytewa was selected as the Indigenous Mapping and Research Coordinator for a National Trails project launched by the Partnership for the National Trails System in partnership with Native Land Digital (Native-Land.ca), and Federal land management agencies. This project supported agency and partner organizations in advancing their knowledge of Ancestral Lands and increasing meaningful partnerships and collaboration with Indigenous Communities along National Scenic and National Historic Trails (NSHT). Etsate-Gashytewa is a recent graduate of Northern Arizona University’s Applied Indigenous Studies and Political Science programs. During her AmeriCorps tenure, she developed a public/interactive GIS map that integrates the National Trails System data collected and disseminated by Native Lands Digital, the creators of an online, interactive map showing Indigenous territories. A toolkit and educational resources accompany the map and are available for the public. Estate-Gashytewa is of Zuni and Hopi heritage and has developed an extensive policy and research resume that includes working on numerous programs related to Native youth enrichment. Native Lands, National Trails consists of an interactive GIS map and resource kit that will serve as a cultural awareness tool that shows the intersection and relationship between Indigenous lands and the National Trail System in a manner that respects Tribal sovereignty and achieves mutually

beneficial outcomes for Tribal and Indigenous communities. The interactive GIS map is hosted through ESRI, to make it accessible to the public, federal agencies, trail organizations, tribal nations and Indigenous communities. The map overlays an Indigenous Territories layer from NLD onto the National Trail System map and showcases the Indigenous communities that have inhabited these lands over time. The NLD data is a work in progress that relies on contributions from the community to create inclusive and accurate information. Autry Lomahongva is a Hopi and Navajo (Diné) artist with a background in Recreational Leadership who focuses his designs on outdoor landscapes and perspectives. "Any normal person would see a mountain or butte as being just that. But for an Indigenous person, we view those landscapes with respect, as relatives, and locations that have meaning, that tell stories passed down," says Autry Lomahongva Ancestral Lands alumni and the artist behind the Native Lands, National trails logo.

“This is not a

first step but a continuation of work that has been done for years and continues through this project.” -Kiana Etsate-Gashytewa

From https://pnts.org/new/native-lands-national-trails/

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Mental Health Resources for Youth Southwest Conservation Corps leads the way in support for youth and young adults in the field.

Your crew leader calls up the trail 'time to wrap up'. You didn’t even realize what

time it was—you were totally absorbed in a conversation with your crewmates—but now, your thoughts immediately switch to visualizing the stir fry the crew will be making for dinner tonight. Back at camp, everyone kicks back in hammocks or lay on your sleeping pads by the fire. Two crew members are making dinner. Someone’s playing guitar. You can hear the sounds you’ve now come to associate with this project site after having spent a week camped out in this valley: there’s the owl that lives nearby, the sounds of bats hunting overhead, a chorus of nighttime bugs. Water bubbling in the creek in the distance. Worries start to bubble up again about the next day of work, but you brush them aside. You feel a sense of confidence. You’re surrounded by your crewmates—once strangers at the beginning of the season, but now some of your closest friends. And you’re held by the earth—the trees looming above, the grass beneath you. The darkness just beginning to envelop the valley. The bright clusters of stars. The moon hasn’t risen yet but you know it will soon. You know everything will be okay. Good, even.

Southwest Conservation Corps is the oldest program under the Conservation Legacy umbrella, with the organization turning 25 next year. With their longevity comes a wealth of experience working with and supporting youth and young adults in the Rocky Mountain region. In 2019, as SCC staff reflected on their organization and the things they wanted to tackle moving forward, a leading priority was the mental health of the youth and young adults in their programs.

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Most people think of the Rocky Mountain region as a place of great beauty and outdoor adventure. While this is undoubtedly true, the region also reports the second highest suicide rate in the country. Eight of the ten states with the highest suicide rates in the U.S. all come from the mountain west, including Colorado. While the answer to why suicide rates are so much higher in the west is still up for debate, SCC felt they had to make a concerted effort to address the mental wellbeing of their participants within their programs.

Over the years, SCC staff have seen spikes in the number of mental health incidents occurring out in the field with their program participants. Some of these situations ranged from basic behavioral issues to situations beyond the scope of the staff and leaders in the organization. SCC also started seeing this reflected in the retention rates across the organization. They recognized that the reason many participants were leaving the program was because the organization did not have the capacity to properly take care of the youth and young adults enrolled. SCC staff wanted to address this with a more holistic support for their members and leaders. After searching, the staff began to apply for grants that could be used to support the youth programs. One came up through the Colorado Health Foundationthat specifically supported youth resiliency and mental wellness. It sounded like a fantastic fit for SCC’s goals. Both the Four Corners and Los Valles regions


applied and were awarded $150,000 for two years. This grant money gave the programs the funding needed to pay for a local Mental Health Consultant (MHC) that could support the youth in the field each summer. Youth Program Coordinator Jacob Mandell explains, “Prior to this, we had folks with pretty high needs who had therapists they were seeing and our program was interfering with them having those sessions. Having the mental health consultant was an opportunity to support them in a way that they really needed.” Now that SCC had the funds, their next hurdle to address was: What will this consulting position look like? Since this was a brand-new role, the idea was to be adaptable and flexible based on the experience of whoever was hired. SCC was able to find two very qualified Mental Health Consultants (MHC) to help them carve out the role of this position. The consultants had backgrounds in wilderness therapy, which ultimately gave them a better understanding of what the experience is really like for members and leaders out in the field. The MHCs started out the season building relationships with the leaders and gave them tools for handling certain situations in the field. Once the youth started their seasons, the consultant would check in with the crews based on their specific needs. It was never required of the crewmembers, but it was another resource offered to help them deal with whatever may be going on in their lives. Mandell was thrilled with the enthusiasm from the youth programs regarding the mental health consultant. He said, “It was cool because it was really flexible and some crews like really sought out her support. She showed up quite a bit and would check in with folks routinely.” Mandell continued, “I think the best thing was for the youth to have a person that was not their supervisor, totally unrelated to SCC, just go talk to them. Sometimes there’s friction going on and the mental health consultant was able to go talk to both parties and really get a sense of what was going on and where people were coming from. I think that the youth knew they could speak openly to her because she had no stake.”

The first season SCC employed mental health consultants, the program saw 100% retention of youth program members. They also noticed that many of their leaders from that year returned for another season. On top of this, the MHC has also been mentioned by numerous crew leader applicants as a reason they choose to work for SCC versus other similar organizations. SCC Adult Programs adopted a Mental Health Consultant in 2022, based on the model the Youth Programs ran in 2021. They were able to adjust the position to the needs of their program and the results have been clear. Crew leaders throughout the season found the MHC to be very beneficial. They shared that the MHC helped them to feel supported and heard in the midst of a draining job, and that they appreciated having the MHC as a resource for themselves and their crew. The MHC has also helped to identify trends and themes so that programmatic changes that aim to prevent mental health crises can be made.

In 2023, SCC youth programs hope to continue building on their success working with the same MHC, who is in their third season with SCC. The adult programs are excited to bring back the same mental health consultant for the second year as well! SCC staff are passionate about spreading the word of this pilot program and presented on the MHC process and success at the Colorado Open Space Alliance. Their presentation was very well received by other organizations, not just corps. Teresa DiTore, Youth Programs Manager, remarked that “Folks from municipalities, counties and other non-profits approached SCC staff throughout the conference to share their excitement about the initiative and recognize a need for it in their own organizations.” Southwest Conservation Corps is excited to remain in touch with these organizations and hope that through their own demonstrated success it will lead other corps to adopt similar positions based on local needs. 10


Youth Empowerment Stewards We say YES to accessibility in the Parks!

LAUNCHED IN THE SPRING of 2021, the Youth Empowerment Stewards (YES) Initiative, seeks to solidify a sustainable model for direct employment and talent development of people with disabilities in land management and conservation programming to ensure people of all abilities are included in the conversation and the solution. At Conservation Legacy, we recognize the health of our planet and our people depend on varied voices, ideas, and experiences working together to solve the complex problems we face. Unlike many Corps initiatives, the YES program was built to become obsolete; rather than creating a structured space where only those from the disability’s community could enter, the YES initiative strives to identify best practices, implement lasting change, and open up sustainable, adequate, and accessible service opportunities in any project or program Conservation Legacy supports. All 2022 YES AmeriCorps service positions have been placed at National Park Service sites, allowing interested participants to take on service tasks from virtual engagement to ADA compliance and Interpretive programming to park ground usability. Still others are able to make impacts on the land, structures, and trails of these public spaces.

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The common service duty thread amongst all of these opportunities lies in helping Conservation Legacy staff in shaping, innovating, and strengthening its processes to recruit, retain, engage, and continue to open up Corps spaces to all. In 2022, ten individual placements and twelve crew members served in California, Texas, Michigan, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, Tennessee, and Georgia as YES Initiative members. Nine of the YES members identify as disabled, with the remaining three engaged in supporting the service and accommodations of the others. In total these individuals completed 6,244 hours of national service, maintained nearly eleven miles of trail, engaged thousands of local and visiting stakeholders both disabled and abled, and improved the processes by which Conservation Legacy engages those who hope to be a part of conservation corps work.

All of these AmeriCorps service positions, placed within National Park Service sites, allowed interested participants to take on service tasks from virtual engagement to ADA compliance and Interpretive programming to park ground usability. Still others were able to make impacts on the land, structures, and trails of these public spaces. The common service duty thread amongst all of these opportunities lies in helping Conservation Legacy staff in shaping, innovating, and strengthening its processes to recruit, retain, engage, and continue to open up Corps spaces to all. The Youth Empowerment Stewards Initiative, unlike many conservation corps initiatives, was built to become obsolete; rather than creating a structured space where only those from the disability’s community could enter, the YES initiative strives to identify best practices, implement lasting change, and open up sustainable, adequate, and accessible service opportunities in any project or program Conservation Legacy supports.

“Huge thanks

to Conservation Legacy and to all the people who put together this program and for everyone who works on accessibility in our parks.” -Jessica Mummart, Project Partner

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Wood For Life Collective impact supports climate resiliency and social equity in the West.

The Hopi Fuel Wood Partnership is a collaboration amongst the National Forest Foundation, Ancestral Lands Conservation Corps (ALCC), US Forest Service, the Hopi Foundation and the Hopi Community. This partnership formed to help ensure access to fuel wood to the local Hopi and Navajo community who utilize the wood primarily for home heating. The project is part of a larger initiative known as the Wood for Life. Wood for Life currently seeks to sustainably deliver wood to Navajo and Hopi communities from forest restoration thinning on the Coconino and Kaibab National Forests. Ancestral Lands Conservation Corps worked on the Dairy Springs Project, located near Mormon Lake, which was identified by the US Forest Service for thinning, due to a high concentration of residential units as well as access roads for pickups/distributions. The trees were felled in the winter by contractors and ALCC crews were fielded to stage and process the fuel wood for pickup by the local Navajo and Hopi communities. The project was logistically challenging, requiring the coordinating removal of a large amount of jackknifed fuel wood with limited capacity located in both a residential area as well as a camp ground. The mating season for Mexican Spotted Owl as well as the fire season reduced our 15


overall operating capacity and we primarily utilized hand crews to complete the project. The project was also located in close proximity to residential units where crews supported large distribution days with a focus on safety and resource damage mitigation. ALCC prioritized pick-ups in both the spring and summer before the big fall firewood rush, which also gave time to develop partnerships with local organizations. This allowed crews to serve more households because these partners consisted of Villages, Chapters, and local organizations whose missions are to provide fuel wood to the community. Distributions were coordinated on a bi-weekly basis to target working hours as well as catch the weekend volunteers. ALCC still had plenty of material to distribute in the fall and moved to an individual distribution system where individuals could schedule a pick up via phone or email. Crews coordinated a first come first serve system where individuals could sign up for time slots. This was due to limitations of space in the parking area as well as getting

community members on/off the site within a one hour time frame. Each day crews were able to accommodate 90 trucks. The strategy was to provide as much information through the request form, over the phone, and on site to mitigate any safety or general concerns from the public. The tight control and relay of information was critical to implementing a successful longterm project of a valuable community resource. The Ancestral Lands Hopi Crews consist of local youth and young adults between the ages of 18-24. This project was made possible by the many hours of hard work by our members and leaders through, rain, heat, cold, and snow. We thank them for their hard work on this project and for taking care of their communities. ALCC crews served 227 households consisting of 874 individuals. A total of 189 cords of wood were picked up, 157 were delivered to households and 123 cords went to Navajo Chapters, for a total of around 500 cords going to the community free of charge.

The Wood for Life partnership was awarded the Volunteer and Service Citizen Stewardship and Partnerships Award by the United States Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service for its innovative work to bring warmth to indigenous homes. Each year, the Volunteer and Service Citizen and Partnership Award is awarded to the organization that serves on mission-critical projects on public lands and to acknowledge the collective of volunteers and service participants who were particularly impactful in Forest Service efforts. "It’s a win-win situation. One, we’re providing fuel to our community. Two, we’re actively engaging as stewards of the land on projects that are being initiated by organizations like the National Forest Foundation and the Forest Service. To me it’s a perfect example of how nonprofits and agency partners can work together," said Marshall Masayesva, Hopi Program Manager for Ancestral Lands Conservation Corps.

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CONSERVATION LEGACY 701 Camino del Rio, Suite 101 Durango, Colorado 81301 (970) 403-1149 www.conservationlegacy.org


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