Los Padres ForestWatch: We want people to appreciate public lands

BY Jon Bell Author & Outdoor Enthusiast

Apr 8th 2021

Jeff Kuyper learned to love the land from his earliest days.

When he was just three years old, his parents took him on his first camping trip to Yosemite National Park. Then came the Grand Canyon, followed by road trips to Colorado, Utah, and other places across the American West.

Experiencing the wonder of such wild beauty shaped Jeff’s worldview.

It gave me a unique perspective of how important these lands are, and also how fragile they are.

This is a big reason why Jeff and a group of forest advocates founded Los Padres ForestWatch in 2004. Headquartered in Santa Barbara, the nonprofit provides legal advocacy, scientific collaboration, and community outreach to help protect the forests, rivers, grasslands, and wildlife along California’s Central Coast, which includes Los Padres National Forest.

In addition to its environmental protection work, Los Padres ForestWatch has in recent years expanded to include programs that help get youth from underserved communities into the wild so that they, too, learn to become stewards of the land.

Since its founding, Los Padres ForestWatch has:

  • Protected 52,075 acres of forest land from oil drilling
  • Organized more than 1,700 volunteers who’ve removed 30,000 pounds of trash from the forest
  • Connected more than 200 individuals and families from underserved communities to the outdoors
  • Encouraged more than 23,000 people to communicate with decision-makers about the importance of protecting public lands

Bank of the West’s involvement with the Conservation Alliance and 1% for the Planet initially led Los Padres ForestWatch to the bank.

“It’s really important as an environmental organization for us to have a banking partner that shares our commitment to protecting the planet,” Jeff says. “It’s not every day you see a bank making bold statements about the climate crisis and what they’re doing to help reverse that. You don’t hear banks talking about protecting the planet and ensuring that dollars are invested sustainably and ethically. Those are things that really resonated with us.”

Learn more about Bank of the West’s actions on sustainability here.

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