Environmental projects get grants from Fresno group

The Fresno BeeDecember 18, 2013 

Smart growth projects focused on avoiding urban sprawl -- along with several river restoration projects -- have received a $155,000 boost from the Fresno Regional Foundation.

Six organizations received grants Tuesday from the nonprofit founded in 1966, which covers six counties from Merced to Kings.

Foundation leaders said the grants are aimed at promoting "public health, social equity, environmental sustainability and economic growth" for the region.

The foundation awards quarterly grants in four areas: Art and culture, youth, human services and the environment.

This year's environmental grant recipients are:

-- Fresno Metro Ministry: $35,000 for "The Healthy-People/Healthy-Places Network: Civic Infrastructure Development for Smart Growth," a project to support grass-roots lobbying efforts for smart growth that strengthens neighborhoods.

-- Leadership Council for Justice and Accountability: $30,000 for "Smart Growth in the San Joaquin Valley; Confronting Challenges, Creating Opportunities," a project to increase investments and opportunities.

-- Fresno City College -- Child Development Center: $21,000 for "Children's Garden Project," enabling a mini-grant competition to encourage child care centers to create or expand gardens, along with promoting nutrition-related activities that decrease childhood obesity and related illnesses tied to poor health.

-- Tulare Basin Wildlife Partners: $19,000 for "Land Use and Natural Resource Integration," a project focused on increasing outreach to land-use decision makers in the Tulare Basin.

-- Revive the San Joaquin: $26,000 for "Restoration Alive!" to engage the community in ongoing programs to protect and restore the San Joaquin River.

-- Fresno State's Biology Department: $24,000 for "San Joaquin River Salmon Restoration" to reduce the negative impacts of non-native fish on juvenile Chinook salmon, to ensure a successful reintroduction of salmon into the river.

The foundation's eight-member environmental committee, advised by experts, chose the recipients from applications, and a 15-member board made the final decision.

"It's very rewarding when we see organizations coming together -- along with environmentalists, farmers and water advocates and the agriculture industry and various industries -- recognizing they are at the most advantage when they work together to find common ground they can both support, instead of fighting each other," said Dan DeSantis, chief executive officer for the foundation. "And we at the foundation are doing just that."

The river restoration grants are made possible by the late Ted Martin, who gave the foundation $2 million to improve Valley rivers, DeSantis said. Martin was a lifelong Fresnan who fished local rivers throughout his life. His career was in the oil industry.

Funding for the environmental grants came from the Edward K. Martin Family Endowment Fund, Louis Gundelfinger Memorial Fund, Bee Endowment Fund and the Fresno Regional Foundation Board Discretionary Fund.

The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6386, cgeorge@fresnobee.com or @CarmenGeorge on Twitter.

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