Skip links
Chris Morrill

Parting words from Chris Morrill, our Executive Director: ED Report December 2023

After over six years of work at CalWild, I’ll be stepping down at the end of December.

 

A lot has happened, both internally and externally, since I started. The effects of climate change are more apparent. The threat of wildfire has increased. The extent of the biodiversity crisis couldn’t be clearer.

 

Despite those worrying trends, I’ve also seen, on the positive side, the launch of the 30 by 30 initiative, a real mobilization to reintroduce beneficial fire, and an increasing emphasis on the role of native species and connected landscapes. CalWild has been a major driver of all of these initiatives.

Despite those worrying trends, I've also seen, on the positive side, the launch of the 30 by 30 initiative, a real mobilization to reintroduce beneficial fire, and an increasing emphasis on the role of native species and connected landscapes. CalWild has been a major driver on all of these initiatives.

I’ve also seen CalWild and other organizations place greater emphasis on including and elevating historically marginalized communities in the conservation space. All of this has led to a better understanding of the essential role of fire, what accessibility to public lands means and looks like, and who benefits from conservation initiatives as they have traditionally been structured. This knowledge will lead to a more diverse and effective conservation movement in the future.

 

This is all in addition to seeing three new national monuments (and more on the way), fewer trespass grows on public lands, and greater protections for the Inyo, Sierra, and Sequoia National Forests as well as pending wins for BLM lands in northern California.

 

But mostly, as I depart, I wanted to say thank you. Thank you for allowing me the privilege of serving the state of California, and its remaining wild places, and collaborating with such an amazing group of people at CalWild.

 

Many of you were supporters of ours before we launched our first major donor program in 2018. I even heard from one supporter who said, “I thought you guys folded.” While we are bigger and more public than we were, there is still plenty of work we could do with more capacity. Knowing this makes it hard to leave. But I am departing with the knowledge that the team here will make great strides in continuing to protect wild places.

 

I’m excited to let you know that Mark Green, our Development Director, will step in as the Interim Executive Director providing the stability we need at a crucial time. Our board is also as strong as it’s ever been during my tenure with a diversity of experiences that have shown their value.

 

As talented and capable as they are, CalWild will not be able to continue its essential work without your continued support and engagement. We’re rarely able to truly communicate how important all of our supporters are, both individually and in the aggregate. Know that no matter how many times I say thank you, it will never be enough.