About Us

Our Mission

CalWild protects and restores the state’s wildest natural landscapes and watersheds on public lands. These important wild places provide clean air and water, refuges and habitat connections for plants and wildlife, immense cultural values, outstanding opportunities for recreation and spiritual renewal, and are important tools in addressing climate change. CalWild is the only statewide organization dedicated solely to protecting and restoring the wild places and native biodiversity of California’s public lands.

Our Theory of Change

CalWild believes in and is committed to the democratic process. Our success comes through availing ourselves of democracy’s most fundamental concept: responding to the wishes and desires of the people. Our theory of change is that through the direct engagement and empowerment of local public land advocates of all stripes, we can effect change at the local, regional, state and federal levels. CalWild’s role is to help identify where public lands advocates’ tools and capacity aligns with an immediate or medium-term political opportunity. It is our belief that local people and local elected officials are the best advocates for protecting lands and waters in their area. Our job is to provide the knowledge, technical support, and connections to make that a reality. We are committed to respectful, authentic, equitable, and proactive engagement and empowerment of all groups and individuals, specifically those that have been historically marginalized in the public lands decision-making, management, and use process. Read more on our Equity and Inclusion statement.

Our History

In January 1976, five twenty-somethings, Jim Eaton, Don Morrill, Bob Schneider, Phil Farrell, and Jeff Barnick who shared a passion and a mission got together to sign Articles of Incorporation for their new startup, the California Wilderness Coalition. Their plan: disrupt the status quo of conservation activity to achieve a breakthrough in wilderness preservation. Instead of succumbing to the bureaucratic-industrial complex that divided and defeated conservation plans, they proposed a new paradigm of “unify and succeed.” Unify information, unify people, unify action – and succeed in a radical paradigm shift that stopped seeing exploitation as the normal fate of wildness, and instead promoted a big new idea:  wild areas – all of them – should and will remain wild. Since then, the organization (officially renamed CalWild in 2023) has helped to permanently preserve in perpetuity 13 million acres of wilderness, 1,500 miles of wild and scenic rivers, and successfully defended other special places from over-use, encroachment, logging, mining, and road-building. Read more.

Our Board of Directors

Our Staff

Assistant Policy Director
Linda Castro
Senior Policy Director
Ryan Henson
Community Engagement & Conservation Policy Manager
André Sanchez
Development Director
Dup Crosson
Riverside County Public Lands Fellow
Andrea Iniguez
Wild Rivers Director
Steve Evans
Executive Director
Chris Morrill
Engagement Manager
Hayley Paronish

Our members provide the backbone for our wild places advocacy. Your financial support allows us to protect the resilient places you love in California.