California Wildlands Rapid Response Fund

“The idea of wilderness needs no defense.

It only needs more defenders.” — Edward Abbey


To provide immediate support for the defense of California’s federal public lands and national marine sanctuaries against unprecedented threats to weaken, if not completely eliminate, America’s bedrock environmental laws and policies. Examples include, but are not limited to, efforts to repeal or weaken the Antiquities Act; attempts to roll back federal wilderness protections; efforts to decrease the size of existing national monuments in California or eliminate them altogether; potential weakening of critical regulations and policies governing management of National Forest, National Park, National Wildlife Refuge, and Bureau of Land Management lands; draconian budget cuts that undermine natural resource protection, stewardship, and public access; efforts to weaken the protection of endangered species habitat; attempts to privatize public lands; efforts to censor and penalize land management agencies and staff; release of Wilderness Study Areas from protection; and threats to BLM’s National Conservation Lands system. The defense of California Marine Protected Areas faced with similar types of immediate threats from Federal actions is also eligible for funding consideration.

This fund was created to provide near-term funding for urgent projects and efforts facing a limited window of opportunity. To qualify for funding, organizations must demonstrate the urgency of the threat to federal public lands or marine sanctuaries in California (or California Marine Protected Areas), and clearly articulate why their project requires immediate funding.

*The goal of the Rapid Response Fund is to make a decision on your grant proposal within 2-3 weeks. However, it is possible that the process will take slightly longer than this if your application requires additional follow-up questions. 


Applications are accepted on a rolling basis.


To be eligible to apply to the California Wildlands Rapid Response Fund, the applicant organization must be able to answer YES to all of the following eligibility requirements/questions:

  • Does the proposed project have a strong focus towards protecting federally owned public lands or marine sanctuaries in California, or California Marine Protected Areas?
  • Does the applicant organization have a track record protecting and preserving public lands or marine sanctuaries in California?
  • Is the applicant organization based in California? If not, do you have a strong presence, including paid staff or a robust volunteer contingent, based in California, or otherwise have the ability to generate the necessary capacity?
  • Does your organization have a 501(c)(3) status from the Internal Revenue Service, or is it a sponsored project of a 501(c)(3) organization?
  • Is your funding request $25,000 or less? If the project requires more than $25,000, can you clearly identify a funding commitment for the balance, or can you identify other sources for the remaining funds?
  • Does the proposed workplan focus on important near-term activities in response to an imminent threat, and does the grant period for your project reflect these near-term activities and the urgent, rapid response nature of this Fund?

If you answer NO to any of these questions, you will not qualify for a grant from the California Wildlands Rapid Response Fund.


Funding Priorities:

Applicants do not need to meet all of these priorities to earn a grant award. However, a successful applicant must be able to show how their proposal addresses at least some of these priorities:

  • Projects involving precedent-setting threats to federal public lands, marine sanctuaries, and/or the authority of federal land management agencies
  • Projects with grant periods of longer than 6-8 months may be viewed as annual support proposals which do not fit the Fund’s rapid response criteria and are therefore discouraged.
  • Projects involving at-risk wildlands
  • Projects in regions of the state where local political power has been less than supportive of sound conservation policy and law
  • Projects with easily identifiable goals, clear targets, effective strategies, and a means for measuring success
  • Projects leveraging partnerships with other nonprofits and tie-ins with coordinated campaigns and initiatives
  • Projects engaging non-traditional stakeholders and interest groups, especially those who have increased potential to influence the outcome of the effort
  • Projects involving immediate threats to Marine Protected Areas

Eligible Organizations:

501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations working to preserve the integrity of federally managed public lands in California.

Eligible Activities (include, but are not limited to):

  • Public outreach or organizing including phone banks, mailings, paid advertising or special events.
  • Advocacy, research, or other activities conducted by experts or other consultants including but not limited to media, communications, economics, outreach, or legal work. Any activities conducted by consultants, attorneys or lobbyists must be allowable under IRS 510(c)(3).
  • Travel funds to allow organizational staff, experts or members of the public to attend key administrative or legislative hearings or sessions, or otherwise personally reach targeted decision-makers.

Non-Eligible Activities:

  • Capital expenses, including equipment purchase.
  • General organizational expenses. This is a fund designed to support discrete projects and urgent campaigns that are a response to immediate threats that have arisen, and will continue to arise, because of the new political climate.
  • Long-range programs. While your project may be part of a longer-range conservation strategy, it must center around responding to an immediate threat or opportunity.


Please check all eligibility requirements before starting the online application. To complete the online application Click Here

*The goal of the Rapid Response Fund is to make a decision on your grant proposal within 2-3 weeks. However, it is possible that the process will take slightly longer than this if your application requires additional follow-up questions. 


If your organization is awarded a grant, you must submit a grant report. Please refer to your Grant Agreement for the date on which your report is due.

Please log into our online portal to begin filling out your assigned grant report.

You are free to include other documents in your report, such as pamphlets, photos, and news clippings. However, these are to be supplementary and should tie into your more general narrative.

Grant Report forms (also listed as “Follow-Up Forms” in the online portal) are automatically assigned to the user account that originally completed/submitted the application. Follow-up forms can only be assigned to and accessed by one user account at a time. If you are not the original applicant contact but you are completing the grant report, please contact us at We will create a user account for you and then re-assign the report form to you.

Current and past Grantees

Click here to review descriptions of all grantees.

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