​​“People are looking for places that retain a sense of character.”

See what inspires Buford Crites to speak up for nature.

Buford Crites
Former Mayor of Palm Desert, California - Palm Valley, California

In 1986, the Conservancy helped broker a compromise regarding protection of the Coachella Valley’s endangered fringe-toed lizard. Funding from the federal Cooperative Endangered Species Conservation Fund enabled economic development to continue alongside conservation efforts. Budget woes have now put that funding at risk.

In the Land of the Vertical Spring

Like many Californians, Buford Crites came from back East more than 35 years ago. Most transplants might not adjust well to the difference between the Missouri Ozarks and California’s Coachella Valley, but Buford fell in love with the desert.

“I call it the land of the vertical spring,” he says, “and it is one of the more remarkable landscapes in North America.” Less than 150 miles from Los Angeles or San Diego, the California desert is also one of the fastest-growing places in the Land of Opportunity.

During his time as mayor of Palm Desert, Buford used his Outside Voice to help the city prepare for the future by respecting and preserving the character of the land. “California and many other parts of the U.S. and the world are filled with places that people say, ‘that used to be a special place.’ But the key to economic prosperity in 21st Century is going to be being a place that people still choose to go to for recreation, or to build a business, or retire or vacation or have children here. [People are looking for] places that retain a sense of character.”

“I know the reason we have these spaces is not because they have to be conserved, but because people made a choice to do that.”


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