Affiliate of the Week: Planning and Conservation League

In honor of our 80th Anniversary celebration throughout 2016, the National Wildlife Federation is recognizing each of our Affiliate Partners in a special “Affiliate of the Week” blog series that showcases the dedicated conservation efforts taking place across the country each day. This week we celebrate our California affiliate, Planning and Conservation League, and their commitment to wildlife.

PCL logo

Who We Are

In 1965, a group of concerned citizens formed the Planning and Conservation League (PCL) to protect California from the destruction caused by fast-paced and poorly planned developments. For over 50 years, PCL has been working in the halls of California’s Capitol to promote cutting-edge policies that safeguard our lands, air, waters, and communities, while building strong coalitions and empowering the public. PCL has been recognized by an official resolution of the state’s legislature, which states that “participation on every key environmental issue before the State Legislature has demonstrated PCL’s effectiveness in preserving the quality of life for all Californians.”

Pelicans. Photo from PCL

What We Do

Over the last few years, PCL has worked with the legislature to pass major environmental legislation regulating groundwater extraction, establishing renewable energy standards for 2030, and funding environmentally sound sources of new water. A major recent success was the removal of a dam on the Carmel River in Monterey County, which, after more than a decade of work, has already led to sightings of endangered steelhead heading upriver! Important victories like this will improve California’s environmental health and the quality of life over the next decades.

Poppies. Photo from PCL
Poppies. Photo from PCL

PCL is also working hard to make constructive reforms to the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) environmental review process. The current proposal, SB 122 (Jackson and Hill) would put environmental impact report (EIR) documents and notices online for easier access to all interested parties. In the internet age, this just makes common sense, but it still faces strong opposition.

Coal transport puts communities and wildlife living near rail lines at increased risks, and sound environmental review is needed to minimize health and environmental damage. PCL is working to support SB 1278 & 1280 (Hancock) —against well-funded opposition—to improve the environmental review of coal shipments through the Port of Oakland to points all over the western United States.

Over the past several years, PCL has begun to tackle the monumental task of addressing statewide land use policies, which, in light of California’s housing crisis, is sorely needed. The team is focusing on open spaces; conservation and preservation of public and private lands; and the need to balance housing, jobs, and economic growth with responsible and sustainable land use planning.

Photo from PCL
Photo from PCL

Remaining pragmatic and strategic about the issues they face, PCL knows that the last 50 years will not be the same as the next 50.  They plan to use the strong statewide coalitions they’ve built over the decades to be their strength and rudder.

Making a National Impact

The 1960s were a turning point in California’s history. After decades of exploding growth, the environmental impacts of oil-intensive, low-density development became apparent. Smog, traffic congestion, habitat destruction, oil spills, toxic pollution of wildlife and ground water, and shortsighted urban planning decisions all reduced the quality of life. The public mood shifted, and California began the long process of undoing their mistakes and preventing new ones. Since its start 50 years ago, PCL has been instrumental in how California thrives today.

In just five decades, PCL has helped shape the thinking of California legislation for conservation priorities, seeing successes that include:

  • Ducks. Photo from PCL

    Passing the Coastal Act and required Environmental Impact Reports to create smarter ways to grow.

  • Stopping forest clear-cutting, protecting Lake Tahoe’s clear water and establishing wild rivers for wildlife.
  • Purchasing parks, wetlands and other critical habitats to protect them and the wildlife living there from development.
  • Implementing air quality standards to reduce smog, and improve mass transit options to reduce both pollution and congestion.
  • Acknowledging the realities of climate change and beginning the decades-long process of moving to a renewable energy future.
  • Working with partners like the National Wildlife Federation to further environmental conservation that will benefit the state and nation.

Get Involved

In San Francisco this November 11, PCL will be celebrating their first 50 years of successes. They will be honoring the California Environmental Heroes of the Last Half Century, including the people, organizations, government agencies, and community groups who made significant contributions to the quality of life in California today.

Submit your nominations for this honor now — be it a person, a ballot initiative, a legislative act, a government agency, a nonprofit or for-profit organization, or anything else that celebrates the conservation progress of the Golden State. Ultimately, PCL will create multiple categories to honor the many people that made such an important difference.

Photo from PCL
Photo from PCL

As always, PCL appreciates your support. Without your help, they wouldn’t exist. In many ways, the PCL supporters are the unsung heroes of the last 50 years. Help them keep making California a great place to live.

You can contact them through their newly redesigned website, partially funded by NWF’s state affiliates’ micro-grant program, at or by email or by phone: (916) 822-5631.

Contact PCL

Connect with the Planning and Conservation League to get their latest news and keep up with their conservation efforts through Facebook, Twitter, or by visiting their website.