GIS philanthropists gift $165 Million to save Californian coastline

Jan 18, 2018

Californian co-founders of geospatial technology giant Esri, Jack and Laura Dangermond have made a record private donation of $165 million to The Nature Conservancy to purchase and preserve thousands of acres of environmentally sensitive land at Point Conception, California.

This marks the largest philanthropic gift in The Nature Conservancy’s history, to permanently protect and preserve the nearly 25,000-acre coastal habitat in Santa Barbara County.

The iconic land named The Jack and Laura Dangermond Preserve, is home to at least 39 species of threatened or special status, and holds significant ecological, historical, and cultural values across Native American, Spanish and American histories.

The Nature Conservancy said the coastal habitat is a beacon for education and scientific research.

“Jack and Laura Dangermond’s gift was, in a word, transformative,” said Michael Bell, Director of Marine and Coastal Program, The Nature Conservancy California.

“It would not have otherwise been possible to secure and preserve forever this ecologically important piece of California. Their leadership has already inspired other donors across California to give their own major philanthropic gifts to support ongoing preservation of this amazing natural area.”

The Esri co-founders have a history of providing thousands of trees and parklands to the Redlands, their home community. In 2016 Jack and Laura Dangermond signed the Giving Pledge, created by Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett, pledging to acquire land for open space conservation and parks, and make contributions to their local community.

The Dangermonds’ commitment to The Giving Pledge includes providing software, training, and technical assistance to support conservation, humanitarian activities, and STEM education - particularly geography education. This follows a recent donation of $100 million in software supporting a GIS for Schools education initiative to give primary and secondary students free access to cutting-edge smart mapping technology in classrooms across the United States, Europe, Africa, and Australia.

“The Nature Conservancy has a deep understanding of the issues in acquiring and managing a complex piece of land full of history and ecological value,” said Jack Dangermond.

“We look forward to the leading-edge scientific research that will be enabled through this acquisition.”

Over the next eighteen months, The Nature Conservancy will undertake a thorough catalogue of the ecological, historical, and cultural aspects of the land to inform a thorough management plan focused on preservation, research, and education.

Technology and tools, including GIS, will be used to implement approaches like building a digital twin of the landscape, green infrastructure, and smart conservation planning, creating an opportunity for everyone to better understand the issues facing environmental conservation today.

To view the Jack and Laura Dangermond Preserve click here.