Conserving Our Lands Through Local Innovation

The following was presented as part of a session at Philanthropy Roundtable’s Annual Meeting in October 2023.  

Fires that consume more than 100,000 acres are becoming commonplace in America, with 72 million acres affected in the last decade. That’s according to Brian Yablonski, CEO of the Property and Environment Research Center (PERC), an organization that pursues innovative market solutions to the nation’s most pressing conservation problems. 

“The biggest culprit here is 100 years of misguided government policy,” Yablonski said during his Big Idea talk at the Roundtable’s Annual Meeting.  

PERC, located in Bozeman, Montana, pushes back on the idea that more government regulations are the answer to conserving America’s natural lands.   

“Conservation needs to be about speeding up not slowing down,” said Yablonski. “We need to replace slow down regulation with speed up policies that enable us to get in and restore quickly. … And that’s going to take revisiting environmental laws that have been on the books for more than 50 years.”  

Yablonski says conservation is in desperate need of innovation, entrepreneurship and technology, driven by local individuals who are open to exploring new ideas.  

One example Yablonski cites is the Crazy Mountain Virtual Fence Project, which will improve wildlife habitat on America’s cattle land by enabling the removal of miles of internal barbed-wire fence. Ranchers will be able to remotely map and manage livestock through a series of signal towers and GPS collars worn by cows.  

“Conservation needs to be done with, not to landowners,” said Yablonski. “Local individual knowledge needs to drive conservation, not bureaucrats.”  

For more information on this organization or others, please contact Program Director, Clarice Smith. 

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