BOZEMAN, MT – The LOR Foundation announced $7.35 million in grants to foster a community-based approach to land and water conservation and community development in the Intermountain West. The grants will support the launch of a collaborative pilot program that will assist communities in identifying conservation priorities, with a specific focus on watersheds.

“The water crisis in Flint, Michigan, underscores the critical importance of protecting our drinking water supplies,” said Deb Love, executive director of the LOR Foundation. “Unfortunately, most of us have no idea where our water comes from when we turn on the tap. At LOR, we believe community engagement is a critical first step to addressing our most pressing challenges. We are pleased to support the collaboration between two of the country’s leading community-based conservation organizations, The Trust for Public Land and the Land Trust Alliance, in fostering a community-driven solutions model that we believe can activate civic engagement, build strong local economies and attract more funding to the region.”

With a $6,750,000 grant, The Trust for Public Land is leading the Community Land and Water Intermountain West Pilot Program, a five-year effort that will engage small towns in defining and implementing their priorities to create healthier, more livable and more equitable communities. Modeled after its award-winning Greenprint community engagement tool, TPL will lead an inclusive planning process to help each community make informed decisions about protecting local water supplies, enhancing trails and other forms of recreation and creating sustainable economies.

With a $250,000 grant, the Land Trust Alliance will work in parallel to train, strengthen and broaden the reach of land trusts in Intermountain West communities. By focusing on community-driven solutions, land trusts will engage new stakeholders on a range of issues that extend beyond traditional conservation issues.

“The LOR Foundation recognizes that communities in the Intermountain West depend upon the clean water and open spaces that make them attractive places to live and invest in,” Deb Love notes. “But they also face other pressing challenges, like crumbling infrastructure, lack of planning and outmoded transportation. Through these grants, we are collectively creating a planning framework to identify community needs, which we hope will help inform our foundation’s priorities moving forward.”

The LOR Foundation board of directors approved the grants to TPL and LTA at its March board meeting, including a $350,000 grant to the Trust for Public Land to acquire a 6-acre parcel in Ponderay, ID, that will one day serve as the gateway to Ponderay, catalyzing economic development and improving access to Lake Pend Oreille.

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About The LOR Foundation:

The LOR Foundation is dedicated to enhancing livability and quality of life in the Intermountain West through community-driven solutions. The Foundation partners with rural communities in Colorado, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico and Wyoming. For more information, please visit http://lorfoundation.org/.