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Our History, Results

  • Sustainable Conservation

    Challenging conventional wisdom in 1993, Sustainable Conservation's founders posed a simple, but bold, question ...

    "What if protecting the environment could also be good for business?"

    Not your typical environmentalists, our visionary founders hailed from the corporate world. Concerned by the time, money, and goodwill lost to avoidable courtroom and political battles, they considered the private sector an untapped ally in solving California's pressing environmental challenges. Working with business – not against it – they knew California could achieve true sustainability, balancing both environmental and economic needs.

    As each new initiative brought tangible results, Sustainable Conservation earned the trust and respect of a diverse set of stakeholders – from industry and scientists, to government and other environmental leaders. More than 15 years later, we've turned a simple question into a unique brand of environmental problem-solving, and a powerful model for the rest of the world to follow.

  • 1993

    Co-founders Frank Boren, Laura Hattendorf and Tina Quinn establish Sustainable Conservation under the auspices of the Tides Foundation. Their pioneering vision of engaging the private sector to promote innovative environmental solutions that are good for business receives initial funding.

  • 1994

    Sustainable Conservation purchases 37 acres adjacent to a Nature Conservancy preserve in Monterey County to benefit water quality and wildlife in the ecologically rich Elkhorn Slough. In partnership with Moss Landing Marine Laboratories and The Conservation Fund, developed a plan to protect sensitive ecological areas while allowing for limited development. Process becomes the template for Sustainable Conservation's Partners in Restoration program.

  • 1995

    First-of-its-kind retrofit of a 110,000-square-foot office building in Los Angeles completed in partnership with a private developer, the Natural Resources Defense Council and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Building energy use is reduced by 70% through the use of best practices designed and vetted by partners using sound science.

  • 1996

    Brake Pad Partnership launched. A first-of-its-kind cooperative effort among brake manufacturers, storm water agencies and environmental groups agrees to study how copper from automobile brake pads affects water quality.

  • 1997

    Partners in Restoration program established, streamlining the permitting process for farmers and ranchers who want to improve wildlife habitat on their properties. Program has been used by nearly 50 landowners along the Elkhorn Slough alone to prevent 57,000 tons of polluting sediment from entering waterways.

  • 2000

    Dairies project begins with testing new technologies and processes to reduce the harmful impact of the 90,000 tons of manure California's nearly 2 million cows produce daily.

  • 2001

    Auto Recycling project, a collaborative of the State of California Auto Dismantlers Association, regulatory agencies and environmentalists, initiated to reduce the environmental impacts of recycled cars and trucks in California. Project goes on to win the 2006 Governor's Environmental and Economic Leadership award for voluntary reduction of polluted runoff at auto recycling facilities throughout the state.

  • 2002

    Led the adoption of methane-capture systems on California dairies through a $15 million state grant program, the largest of its kind in the U.S. Spurred the adoption of Assembly Bill 2228, legislation that enables farmers to use excess power generated by their systems on their farms.

    Through our Dairies project, established a nationally recognized demonstration project to evaluate the composting of dairy manure with municipal green waste (e.g., grass clippings) to be used as fertilizer on California farms .

    Partners In Restoration expands to Morro Bay, the Salinas River valley and Navarro River watershed. Sustainable Conservation trains officials across California on developing similar programs.

  • 2003

    Conservation tillage effort begins to reduce air pollution from traditional crop cultivation in the Central Valley, which relies on intensive soil disturbance and diesel-burning machinery.

    Sustainable Conservation is awarded the 2003 Edmund G. "Pat" Brown Award for accomplishments that exemplify the spirit of environmental and economic balance.

  • 2004

    Sustainable Conservation is awarded the Governor's Environmental and Economic Leadership award, California's highest environmental honor for Partners in Restoration water-quality initiatives.

    PlantRight campaign created to stop the sale of invasive plants and their impact on California's irreplaceable biodiversity. Sustainable Conservation organizes a multi-stakeholder steering committee to develop and foster strategies to shift the horticultural community away from invasive varieties and toward economically viable alternatives that are safe for California's native ecosystems.

  • 2005

    Pioneering "cow power" report published on innovative technologies to convert cow manure into clean, renewable electricity and vehicle fuel by employing methane-capture systems on California dairy farms. As of 2005, 12 methane digesters are built to convert the waste from 38,000 cows to electricity - valued at $1.6 million.

  • 2006

    Groundbreaking safe harbor agreement signed with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to protect the endangered Valley elderberry long horn beetle, followed by a regional agreement for the California red-legged frog.

    Partners in Restoration expands to 285,000 acres in Santa Cruz County.

  • 2007

    Executive Director Ashley Boren awarded a James Irvine Foundation Leadership Award for Sustainable Conservation's collaborative approach to solving California's environmental problems.

    Conservation tillage acreage reaches 80,000 acres across Central Valley, reducing dust and diesel emissions by 70% and 40% respectively in impacted areas, while saving famers $2 million in fuel and labor costs.

    The imperiled Tricolor blackbird gets help from a Sustainable Conservation-led alliance of environmental, agricultural, academic and government organizations. Among the group's achievements is a groundbreaking conservation plan to boost populations through coordinated habitat conservation, research and public education.

    Brake Pad Partnership study finds that up to 50% of all copper discharged into Bay Area waterways comes from automobile brake pads. Study wins the California Stormwater Quality Association's Outstanding Research Award.

  • 2008

    PlantRight initiates campaign to educate California gardeners and horticultural industry about the threats of harmful invasive plants, and to trim the more than $85 million California spends each year on eradication.

  • 2009

    Best Management Practices Challenge launched with American Farmland Trust to reward farmers for adopting practices that protect natural resources, reimbursing them for potential loses to their crops and income.

    Helped develop the nation's first "cow powered" commercial trucks, which were converted to run on biogas produced from cow manure. Because it produces no greenhouse gases, using biogas to fuel America's cars and trucks would offset the emissions of 16 million automobiles each year.

    Sustainable Conservation-led Brake Pad Partnership sponsors state legislation to virtually eliminate copper in brakes sold in California while meeting safety and performance standards. The bill is supported by brake manufacturers, stormwater agencies and environmental groups alike.

  • 2010

    Sustainable Conservation and Brake Pad Partnership sponsors celebrate the passage of landmark clean-water legislation, Senate Bill 346. The bill will virtually eliminate copper in brake pads sold in California and throughout North America and ensure that new brake materials are safe for salmon, other aquatic wildlife and drivers.

    The California Council for Environmental and Economic Balance awards Sustainable Conservation and the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers the prestigious 2011 Edmund G. "Pat" Brown Award for phasing out copper in brake pads in a way that benefits both the environment and business.

  • 2011

    Conservation tillage acres in California grow to more than 800,000 acres throughout the Central Valley since 2004, dramatically cutting farm-generated air pollution while lowering farmers' costs. The acreage represents more than 1,200 square miles. Nearly half of all row crops in the San Joaquin Valley are now farmed using conservation tillage.

    Ecosystem Services initiative launches to reward farmers, ranchers and other landowners for providing measurable benefits to the natural resources under their care. Sustainable Conservation works with landowners to plant native vegetation along the Mokelumne River, preventing soil runoff, improving water quality and habitat for aquatic species.

    Annual PlantRight survey of California's horticultural industry shows our efforts have helped reduce the number of plant growers and retailers statewide selling invasives by 70%. The survey also shows invasive varieties for sale have plummeted by 75%.

  • 2012

    Sustainable Conservation launches a bold statewide effort to help farmers better manage water on a regional basis. Pilot project begins, developing incentives that motivate farmers to conserve water and reduce groundwater pumping. The program ensures farmers have sufficient water to grow their crops, communities have clean drinking water and nature has enough clean water to support California's incredible wildlife.

    Under our dairies initiative, we launch a pilot project to demonstrate the effectiveness of an innovative biological treatment system to clean up lagoon water on a commercial dairy in the Central Valley. 50 nutrient-management projects are implemented, covering nearly 2,400 acres to reduce nitrate leaching into water sources.