Conservation Spotlight: The Alaska Conservation Foundation

In a time where conservation organizations seem to be constantly battling environmental issues with the government, it sometimes helps to know exactly who the players in the game are. One organization that is fighting for wildlife and ecosystems in Alaska is the Alaska Conservation Foundation (ACF).

The ACF was established in 1980 after Congress passed the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act, which protected over 100 million acres of Alaska’s environment. Since that time, the ACF has faced numerous challenges, many of which are still prevalent today.

One of the most common threats that the organization faces is that of oil drilling and encroachment on protected lands. The ACF also has to deal with questionable hunting regulations and logging concerns.

How does the Alaska Conservation Foundation tackle these issues?  One way is by awarding cash grants to various community organizations around the state. Last year, the ACF awarded $1.26 million to local environmental organizations. They truly help the citizens take a stand and ensure their voices are heard when it comes to important environmental issues.

Often, it’s the Native tribes in Alaska that are most heavily impacted by conservation concerns, and it’s these groups that the ACF works with. The Alaska Native Fund is maintained by the ACF and it’s designed to strengthen Native groups and their voices within the community.

The Alaska Conservation Foundation collaborates with many other organizations, too. Most notably, the ACF’s Sustainable Southeast Partnership combines the efforts of the ACF with groups like the Renewable Energy Alaska Project, the Nature Conservancy and Native tribes.

The ACF also works with the Landscape Conservation Cooperatives, which focuses on community conservation efforts and climate change. These cooperatives were formed six years ago and much like the Sustainable Southeast Partnership, it involves the combined efforts of the ACF and local governments, nonprofit organizations, First Nations and educational facilities.

The biggest challenge that groups like the ACF face is whether their work with small, local governments will be big enough to make a difference with issues that political entities at the federal level are opposing. However, countless organizations like the ACF are taking a stand across the country and with any luck, the federal organizations will listen.