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  • Jim Bonesteel

RPA announces Forests Forever Campaign for climate resilience, wildlife movement, clean air & water

Updated: Feb 17, 2022

September 14, 2021

Jim Bonesteel, Executive Director

You may have already heard last week at our annual Gala, in a meeting, or on social media. If so, bear with me. I am just so excited to share this good news.

Over dinner at the Gala, we announced our first major capital campaign.

Led by a fantastic volunteer and staff leadership team, the Forests Forever Campaign will raise $2 million over three years for land conservation and stewardship.

Simply put, it will allow us to conserve and care for more land on the Rensselaer Plateau—and build stronger communities in the process.

Why Forests Forever? There are so many reasons. Here's one: As the climate warms, plants and animals need pathways to move to suitable habitat. Above, Molly and Fred show a map of connected forest corridors up and down the East Coast. The Rensselaer Plateau is an invaluable part of this larger forest system, and the Forests Forever Campaign will make sure it continues to be. photo by Kim Clune

Bobcats depend on large forests like those on the Rensselaer Plateau. Connected forest blocks will allow them to move to find food and shelter as needed in an uncertain future.

For a resilient region

Our vision is to create a connected network of conserved lands. Large, connected forests help slow climate change by sequestering carbon. They also reduce the effects of an unstable climate, such as major storms.

Forests and wetlands absorb and slow floodwaters and protect us from the worst of what could happen during storms like the one we had in Rensselaer County in July.

They also offer uniquely soothing spaces for our mental and physical health.

This campaign is a way for us to give back—and to make sure these places are here for future generations, too.

Before I say anything more, I ask that you take six minutes to watch this short film. It won't feel like six minutes. I promise.

Some of the people who speak in this film are part of the campaign leadership team. Others are the kids, families, volunteers, and stewards—the people for whom this work matters most.

I am humbled that before even going public with this campaign, we were able to raise $1.5 million—a large portion of our goal—in just a few months.

At the Gala, the campaign's Honorary co-chairs Kathy Jimino and Chet Opalka

shared their passion for nature and thanked our leadership donors. They talked about how together we can leave a legacy for generations to come.

Jim Slavin, our campaign chair, called a toast and raised a glass in appreciation of our entire conservation community—that's you, me, and all of RPA's awesome staff, members, volunteers, and friends. We each play our part.

In the coming months, you'll hear more of this story from me, Jim Slavin, and Bay Habshey, Forests Forever Campaign Manager. We will share about the beautiful lands conserved, the people who have made it happen, and those who benefit from this work.

For now, I invite you to join me in celebration of collective action and a shared vision for the world we all wish to pass on to future generations.


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