An aerial view of the Mississippi River, which is one of four major areas in North America and Europe being targeted for restoration work by this new grant program.
The Nature Conservancy is kicking off a five-year project to improve rivers and regional watersheds across North America and Europe.
The project, which is funded by a $30 million donation from the Enterprise Rent-A-Car Foundation, helps support the conservancy in their efforts to manage water resources and could benefit up to 150 million people.
There are four main parts to this new project, which is known as the “Routes & Roots: Enterprise Healthy Rivers Project.” It is targeting rivers in Mississippi, Colorado, Canada, and Europe.
Within the Mississippi River’s watershed, the Nature Conservancy will partner with farmers, ranchers, and communities to reduce nutrient runoff that flows into the river and creates a dead zone for marine life in the Gulf of Mexico. The conservancy will partner with water users throughout the Colorado River Basin to restore watersheds by conserving water use from the Colorado River, which supports tens of millions of people, to weather drought conditions while also meeting an increased demand for water in the area.
In Canada, the conservancy plans to partner with several First Nations in Manitoba to help them have a voice in how their traditional lands are used. And in Europe, the conservancy will help support hydroelectric power projects stemming from the Balkan Peninsula, connecting them to development models that focus on conservation planning.
Kacky Andrews, the Nature Conservancy’s director of conservation for North America, said that Enterprise’s gift aligns well with where the conservancy thinks the field of conservation needs to go in the future.
“Part of the evolution of the Nature Conservancy is figuring out how to do conservation to achieve our mission of protecting our lands and waters, but also doing it in such a way that incorporates the needs of the people and communities who are involved,” Andrews said. “To go in with a foundation and think big thoughts and dream big dreams, and to connect that to our evolution of people and nature, has been fun.”
The Enterprise Rent-A-Car Foundation provided the funds for these projects in an effort to give back to the communities where Enterprise’s car-rental services operate. The foundation was created by the company to support a number of causes that extend beyond the company’s day-to-day purpose. Doing good in the world was a goal of Jack Taylor, who founded Enterprise 60 years ago.
“Our philanthropic focus ... reaches beyond to make a difference and improve the quality of life wherever our employees and customers live and work,” noted Carolyn Kindle Betz, Taylor’s granddaughter and the senior vice president and executive director of the foundation. “We’re thrilled to support and partner with a world-class organization like the Nature Conservancy in this effort to help ensure that healthy rivers continue to enrich our lives for generations to come.”