Escalante, Utah (May 26, 2021) —
Local nonprofit, Grand Staircase Escalante Partners, landed one of the first-ever grants from the brand new 4Rivers Fund on the first of May. The fund is administered by the Grand Junction-based Forever Our Rivers Foundation and was generously seeded with $1 million by The Walton Family Foundation earlier this year. It will supply annual grants to protect four Southwestern waterways, forever.
“Our top priority is to ensure the health of these four watersheds for generations to come,” says Forever Our Rivers Executive Director, Joe Neuhof. “We’re administering $150,000 in grants from the fund this year, and that is just the beginning. We’re already busy building the 4Rivers Fund and will continue to do so over the next five years.”
Forever Our Rivers plans to grow the fund to nearly 6 million dollars over the next 5 years by recruiting new business partners and individual member donors. The 4Rivers fund will support Arizona’s Verde and Gila Rivers, Colorado’s Dolores River, and Utah’s own Escalante River in perpetuity.
The Escalante, which runs through the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument to Lake Powell, has benefited mightily from the efforts of the Grand Staircase Escalante Partners over the last 12 years. Grand Staircase Escalante Partners has directed the Escalante River Watershed Partnership with a group of important stakeholders, including the BLM, Park Service, US Forest Service, multiple Utah state agencies, conservation groups, local landowners, and more. Together, these organizations have worked to reduce the prevalence of invasive species like Russian olive and Russian knapweed and increase healthy native habitat along the iconic western river. They’ve planted cottonwoods and willows, wood’s rose, and three-leaf sumac.
“The Grand Staircase Escalante Partners has ambitious plans to maintain the hard-won restoration progress on the Escalante, and we’re proud to be able to support their work,” says Neuhof. If you’ve been lucky enough to take a trip along the Escalante in the last decade, you may have noticed the improved health of the ecosystem due to the invasive control efforts, creating better accessibility for all accessing the Monument.
The 4Rivers Fund is a collective effort by Forever Our Rivers Foundation, the Walton Family Foundation, and other partners to protect that investment. It will help Grand Staircase Escalante Partners maintain habitat restoration gains and monitor for new ecological threats. This year’s $37,000 4Rivers grant will help Grand Staircase Escalante Partners in their conservation efforts through a desperately needed improved work truck fleet, and provide program management support for their field restoration work and monitoring.
Three other nonprofits – Friends of the Verde River, Gila Watershed Partnership, and RiversEdge West – have made similar restoration gains. They also received grants to protect habitat gains in the inaugural round of funding, totaling $150,000.
Forever Our Rivers works with business partners and individuals to raise funds for rivers. The businesses gain access to the Foundation’s logo, network, and river health stories for marketing purposes. Market research increasingly shows that businesses and brands gain new customers and retain customer loyalty by supporting the environment. Forever Our Rivers helps them give back.
Contact Joe Neuhof, Executive Director of Forever Our Rivers Foundation at email@example.com, and Jonathan Paklaian, Conservation Programs Manager of Grand Staircase Escalante Partners at firstname.lastname@example.org.