Forging Authentic Partnerships

Children from environmental education class planting
Credit: Tahlia Bear

Shared Values and Common Goals

The Federation’s impact and success in conservation and advocacy efforts emerge from its commitment to building authentic relationships that make our communities stronger. These connections are based on collaboration, innovative ideas, cultural respect, understanding, and trust with many different partners.

An example of the unique and mutually beneficial relationships we have built is the program and partnership developed with HECHO (Hispanics Enjoying Camping, Hunting, and the Outdoors). Our efforts have strengthened each organization as we united to accomplish common goals and shared the same values of inclusion and equity.

This collaboration illustrates our deep commitment to elevating the perspectives of underrepresented communities in public lands and conservation issues.

Camilla Simon

For a year, the Federation and HECHO collaborated on an assessment of the Upper Rio Grande Basin, from its headwaters in southern Colorado to Cochiti Pueblo in New Mexico. Different threats endanger the future of this watershed that plays a pivotal role in ecological, agricultural, recreational, and ceremonial needs within the Indigenous and Hispanic communities of Southern Colorado and Northern New Mexico.

During this joint project, HECHO interviewed Hispanic community leaders, Pueblo tribal members, and landowners who have lived and worked along this watershed for many generations. Their compelling stories, their knowledge of the water and the land, and their perspectives are highlighted in the short film “Nuestra Agua, Nuestro Futuro” (“Our Water, Our Future”), capturing the social, historical, and cultural connections of these local communities to the river.

24kacres secured to
benefit wildlife in
the Blackfeet
Yellowstone Grizzly in snow
Credit: Sam Parks
Boy fishing, from the film, "Nuestra Agua, Nuestro Futuro"
Credit: Courtesy of HECHO
Wildlife to Watts Program —#IfIWasWild Music Challenge

We continued to deepen our commitment to the residents of Watts in the Los Angeles area. Along with growing our annual Wildlife 2 Watts event, as part of our #SaveLACougars campaign, we partnered with Warren Dickson from 3rd Rock Hip-Hop and Big Picture Anthems to launch the #IfIwasWildChallenge. Artists from all over the country submitted hip-hop musical pieces about their individual life experiences and how these events connect to the challenges that wildlife face as human development reduces their habitats and threatens their survival. The winner, Kidd da Great, was awarded a $1,000 prize and featured in a music video directed by Ben Gilbarg from Big Picture Anthems. The video delivers a powerful message on how both wildlife and people are engaged in a struggle against displacement and systemic oppression. The #SaveLACougars program is dedicated to engaging with communities across Los Angeles and beyond.

Photo Credit:

“Nuestra Agua, Nuestro Futuro” Film

What is it like to live in a watershed area? In partnership with our Upper Rio Grande Riparian Corridor project, HECHO conducted a series of interviews with Hispanic and Indigenous people who have lived and worked in the Upper Rio Grande watershed for many generations. Their stories and knowledge of the watershed are highlighted in the short film, “Nuestra Agua, Nuestro Futuro.” The Federation with HECHO hosted two community screenings, which brought together Hispanic local elected officials and community leaders to discuss issues related to water and watershed health. The film is a result of our four-part assessment of the Upper Rio Grande that looks at the watershed through the lenses of policy, institution, ecology, and the social aspects of the area.

Photo Credit: Courtesy of HECHO

Bighorn sheep rest under a tree, from the film, "Nuestra Agua, Nuestro Futuro"
Grazing Agreement on the Blackfeet Reservation

Grazing disputes between livestock and wildlife on public lands have been ongoing for several decades. Under our Wildlife Conflict Resolution program, currently celebrating our 20th year, the Federation works with federal land managers to negotiate with livestock producers to retire grazing allotments on public lands that experience chronic conflict. Our approach recognizes the economic value of livestock grazing permits and fairly compensates producers for retiring their leases. In 2022, we adapted our unique conservation strategy in partnership with several NGOs and Blackfeet Fish and Wildlife to achieve a grazing agreement (non-use) on the Blackfeet Reservation in northern Montana. The agreement will benefit wildlife including grizzlies and wolves. The six tribal grazing leases cover some 24,000 acres that border Glacier National Park in an area called Ninnaastakoo (Chief Mountain). Ninnaastakoo is of special cultural significance to the Blackfeet and preserving and protecting this region has been a priority of the tribe for years. This area is one of the most ecologically diverse ecosystems in the Rockies and is critical for wildlife that move in and out of Glacier National Park. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Two Grey wolf (mostly white/tan colored) share a tender moment together for portrait in Yellowstone National Park (USA).
Sacred Grounds Detroit Program

The Federation and two local partners, Friends of the Rouge, and Sierra Club of Michigan supported the installation of a native plant, wildlife habitat project within the city of Detroit. On June 4, 2022, 18 volunteers dug ground to create two 200-square foot rain gardens at Detroit Hope Community of Christ Church. This project is providing a safe, peaceful green space for the community as well as reducing local flooding, providing green drainage credits to the church, and creating a native habitat for wildlife and pollinators. We hope this project will serve as a demonstration site for others, providing the tools for surrounding communities to feel empowered to create their own usable green spaces.

Photo Credit: Elayne Elliott

A group of volunteers working on a rain garden installation in Detroit.