Discover how WRV has fostered a community spirit of shared responsibility for the stewardship and restoration of public, protected, and ecologically important lands each year.
In June 2023, an op-ed by Dr. Rick Knight (with a shout-out to WRV) appeared in 25+ publications, including the Denver Post.
WRV sent the following letter to the editor to the same publications:
To the Editor:
I loved reading Dr. Rick Knight’s recent article suggesting that ecological restoration could be a new form of outdoor recreation. As the Executive Director of Wildlands Restoration Volunteers (WRV) – a CO nonprofit that engages volunteers in land restoration – I am obviously biased, but I would endorse the idea that this work can be a lot of fun! At WRV, we say we have a dual mission. It’s succinctly described by our tagline: Healing the Land, Building Community. While Dr. Knight focused on the first part of that (thanks to Dr. Knight for acknowledging our work), I’d like to emphasize the importance of the second. As social creatures, humans need community for plenty of reasons. In fact, recent research concludes that social connections are as basic as our need for food, water and shelter. But social connections also give life meaning and make it fun. Volunteers on WRV projects build relationships with the land, with themselves, and with one another. It’s this last example that makes ecological restoration fun – you don’t do it alone but with others who care about the land. If you care about the land and like to have fun outdoors, join a WRV project this summer!
We trust you’ll have a good time!
Katherine Postelli, Executive Director
Wildlands Restoration Volunteers
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Several years ago, Wildlands Restoration Volunteers (WRV) made a public commitment to reject racism and other forms of oppression while holding ourselves accountable for concrete actions to increase the diversity, equity, and inclusiveness of our organization and field. We recognized then that the environmental field has not always been an inclusive and equitable one and that those injustices continue to this day.
Last week, members of our own community experienced harm while attending a conference that aimed to be a safe and empowering space for diverse voices. We stand in solidarity with those impacted by the incidents at the Partners in the Outdoors Conference. It is essential that their experiences are heard and that they have a role in identifying and implementing the appropriate response.
As a leading environmental stewardship organization and a partner of many local, state, and federal land management agencies including Colorado Parks and Wildlife, we urge our leaders to listen to the experiences of those directly impacted by these incidents and prioritize their voices in developing solutions and processes moving forward. We know that CPW brings immense value and care to the stewardship of our public lands; we also know that the work of combating racism and injustice is hard and ongoing, but it is necessary to ensure that our outdoor spaces – and the organizations and agencies that operate within them – are safe and inclusive for all.
Today is Juneteenth, which should be a day of national celebration commemorating the end of slavery. Instead, much suffering is apparent, particularly for Black Americans, due to a long history of undeniable racism, injustice and lack of equity in our country.
In the past few weeks, WRV has joined many outdoor and environmental organizations in committing to ensure that outdoor spaces are safe, accessible, and open to all. At the same time, we recognize that outdoor spaces will never be equitable until all spaces are equitable.
Conservation, environmental, and outdoor organizations, including WRV, have not done enough to combat systemic racism against Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC). While WRV has sought to provide a welcoming and inclusive environment for all, we recognize that we have not always been successful. We therefore acknowledge that WRV must do more to combat systemic racism. We recognize that inaction on our part will contribute to the perpetuation of oppression.
WRV must step up. Going forward, we will challenge ourselves to answer hard questions about our choices as an organization and as individuals:
To truly begin to tackle the long-term, systemic, and pervasive effects of institutional racism, we commit to embracing inclusivity and confronting and addressing oppression wherever it exists, including within our own community and organization. Building community is an important part of WRV’s mission. To build a diverse and inclusive community, we cannot ignore injustice or inequity. Indeed, failing to join in the fight against oppression simply affirms the status quo.
We therefore resolve publicly to reject racism and all that perpetuates the systemic oppression that has harmed BIPOC for so long. We further resolve to hold ourselves accountable for direct steps that create a more open, accessible, and inclusive WRV organization, equitable spaces for all, and tangible results that reflect our embrace of anti-racism. We have posted WRV’s detailed inclusiveness plan on our website, in which we commit to concrete actions to increase the diversity, equity and inclusiveness of our organization. WRV staff and Board are united in our commitment to action. With utmost respect we ask our greater community of volunteers, agency partners and donors to join with us to actively support these efforts.
Katherine Thompson William McMullan
Executive Director Board Chair