Kresge Foundation awards $135,000 to The Freshwater Trust to showcase ‘quantified conservation’

January 12, 2016

The Freshwater Trust has received a $135,000 grant from the Kresge Foundation to showcase the value and practical applications of “quantified conservation.”

Quantified conservation is a term coined and used by The Freshwater Trust to describe the measurement and tracking environmental outcomes and impact. The nonprofit uses its principles to carry out freshwater conservation projects across the Pacific Northwest.

“Right now, the environmental sector is not making decisions based on impact and outcomes nor is it adequately measuring progress toward its goals,” said Joe Whitworth, president of The Freshwater Trust. “It’s like driving a car without a dashboard. We don’t know where we’re going or how fast we are traveling. With the data and technology we now have at hand, that’s not acceptable.”

The emerging field of data science, combined with the growing capacity to analyze, track and document on-the-ground conditions in near real-time, provides the opportunity to understand the current conditions of a watershed, define goals for improvement, and quantify the exact outcomes of restoration actions.

By analyzing data and modeling outcomes, the nonprofit evaluates where river restoration projects will have the greatest impact and quantifies what that exact impact will be. The organization has also developed a toolkit for better assessing watersheds, calculating outcomes, and monitoring benefits over time that can be used by other practitioners.

With funds from the Kresge Foundation, The Freshwater Trust will share the idea and principles of quantified conservation with wider audiences in the Pacific Northwest and nationwide, conduct workshops and webinars on how to use quantification tools, and author and submit case studies for inclusion in peer-reviewed journals.

“By sharing quantified conservation, we’re hopefully opening the door to a new era of conservation,” said Whitworth. “An era of conservation that better lines up with the 21st century and ensures the work we’re all doing as an environmental community will result in a future with cleaner, healthier water.”

Kresge Foundation

The Kresge Foundation is a $3.5 billion private, national foundation based in Detroit that works to expand opportunities in America’s cities through grantmaking and social investing in arts and culture, education, environment, health, human services and community development.

The Freshwater Trust

Founded in 1983, The Freshwater Trust accelerates the pace and scale of freshwater restoration through the use of science, technology and incentive-based solutions to restore rivers on a timeline that matters. The nonprofit uses quantified conservation to fix more rivers faster and in 2013, received the U.S. Water Prize for its innovation. For more information, please visit



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