About

Launched on Earth Day, 2019, and based in Ventura, California, Runners for Public Lands is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit environmental organization committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion.

OUR VISION

To build inclusive running communities dedicated to protecting the environment.

OUR MISSION

Runners for Public Lands is dedicated to protecting the people and places we love by organizing runners for climate action, sustainability practices, the protection of public lands, and equitable access to nature.

Board of Directors

Jess Rogers

Jess Rogers

President

Santa Barbara, CA

Kamilah Journét

Kamilah Journét

Vice President

Portland, OR

François Appéré

François Appéré

Vice President

Ventura, CA

Bryant Baker

Bryant Baker

Goleta, CA

Kathleen Baker

Kathleen Baker

Ventura, CA

Stephen Efner

Stephen Efner

RPL Secretary

Ventura, CA

John Meadows

John Meadows

Goleta, CA

Lizette Nuñez

Lizette Nuñez

Santa Barbara, CA

Preston Ryan

Preston Ryan

Santa Barbara, CA

Dr. Leigh Scarber

Dr. Leigh Scarber

Ojai, CA

Stacy Swanson

Stacy Swanson

Thousand Oaks, CA

Marcos Vargas

Marcos Vargas

Ventura, CA

Staff

Mollie Ganser

Mollie Ganser

Digital Content Creator

San Luis Obispo, CA

Vic Thasiah

Vic Thasiah

Founding Executive Director

Ventura, CA

National Advisory Council

Zoë Rom

Zoë Rom

Council Chair

Carbondale, CO

Alison Désir

Alison Désir

Seattle, WA

Rickey Gates

Rickey Gates

Santa Fe, NM

David Roche

David Roche

Boulder, CO

Laura Cortez

Laura Cortez

Denver, CO

Mike Foote

Mike Foote

Missoula, MT

Dustin Quinn Martin

Dustin Quinn Martin

Albuquerque, NM

Peyton Thomas

Peyton Thomas

Wilmington, NC

Jordan Marie Daniel

Jordan Marie Daniel

Los Angeles, CA

Clare Gallagher

Clare Gallagher

Boulder, CO

Tina Muir

Tina Muir

Louisville, KY

Backstory

On September 24, 2018, a local runner named Vic presented the concept of Runners for Public Lands (RPL) to regional runners and other friends at a local event hosted by Ventura Land Trust at Topa Topa Brewing Company in Ventura, CA. Six months later, RPL launched as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit environmental organization on Earth Day, April 20, 2019, with a community trail run and habitat restoration event at Harmon Canyon in Ventura.

 
The following inspired the concept of RPL and its founding: 
  • The 2016 Water Protectors Movement at Standing Rock, specifically the Oceti Sakowin youth, running with their people’s prayers and petitions over 2000 miles in resistance to the Dakota Access Pipeline.
  • Mike Foote’s 2017 Trail Runner magazine article “No Free Lunch: Trail Running and the Public Lands Debate,” which called trail runners to step up and join the fight against corporate and government threats to native and public lands.
  • The fact that runners are the largest outdoor recreational group in the United States, numbering over 60 million, and don’t have an organized, collective, national platform promoting the protection of the environment
  • The night of December 4, 2017, when the Thomas Fire burned through Ventura, California, and the surrounding area, scorching nearly 300,000 acres and destroying more than 1000 structures; and the next few weeks as the air remained unbreathable and the region unrunnable.
  • The rains, floods, and mudslides that came after the Thomas Fire, killing 23 people and destroying 130 more homes in the Ventura area.
  • The 2018 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report setting out the fact that an average temperature increase of just a half-degree Celsius (nearly one degree Fahrenheit) makes in human suffering, ecosystem degradation, biodiversity loss, and mass extinction.
  • The December 5, 2019, Washington Post article reporting that with an average temperature rise of 4.7 degrees Fahrenheit above pre-industrial levels, Ventura County is the fastest warming county in the Lower 48, heating up at double the rate of the rest of the nation.
  • The Indigenous prayer runners (organized by the Bears Ears Prayer Run Alliance, including Wings of America, Utah Diné Bikéyah, and the Seventh Generation Fund) running nearly 800 miles to Bears Ears National Monument in resistance to corporate and government threats to native and public lands.

Milestones & Highlights

From its beginnings in 2019, Runners for Public Lands has built community around educating runners on environmental issues and working with them to protect the environment. We couldn’t have done it without you—our community of members, volunteers, and supporters—who have been with us every step of the way.

Join us as we look back at what we’ve accomplished together.

2021

  • Named beneficiary for Trail Runner Magazine’s #MatchTheirMiles Earth Day event; April 22, 2021.
  • Joined Ventura’s Westside Clean Air Coalition to stop the poorly planned, toxic soil removal and the expansion of a dangerous compressor station across the street from a local elementary school and after-school club; participated in March for Our Kids’ Health: on April 24, 2021.
  • Fourteen Hundreds Club Challenge Fundraiser: hosted a local trail running challenge spanning across the Santa Barbara, Ventura, Ojai, Carpinteria, and Thousand Oaks areas in an effort to educate the community about these outdoor spaces while fundraising, May 14-June 14, 2021.
  • Released a Statement in Support of Transgender Youth: May 15, 2021; with Running Diversity Industry Coalition.
  • Named beneficiary for 2021 Run for the Planet Cleanup + Fundraiser by Dirtbag Runners; RPL received a $500 donation on World & National Clean-Up Day: September 18, 2021.
  • Named beneficiary for 2021 Women Run the Vote presented by Oiselle and Run for All Women; the 900+ mile relay event focused on the relationship between environmental justice and Indigenous sovereignty; RPL received a $37,000 donation September 20-26, 2021.
  • Love the Land Event, RPL celebrates National Public Lands Day with Los Padres ForestWatch by hosting an event to clean up and advocate for change in Santa Paula Canyon; September 25, 2021.
  • Montaña de Oro Camp + Run Event, RPL celebrates National Public Lands Day with a weekend of trail running, camping, music, environmental education, stargazing, and community; October 15-17, 2021; with Los Padres ForestWatch, naturalist Bryant Baker, and UCSB astrophysicist Jamie Burke.
  • Patagonia ‘Run To’ Film Screening: Patagonia ‘Run To’ Film Screening: Corriendo para salvar una Cuenca (Run to Save a Watershed) featuring Patagonia trail runner and activist, Felipe Cancino; November 2, 2021.
  • Formed the National Advisory Council in December 2021.

 

2020

  • Co-hosted the Australian Wildfire Relief Run: January 18, 2020; with Inside Track in Ventura, CA; 120 participants raise over $6000 AUD for the Australian Red Cross relief and recovery efforts.
  • Designated 2020 AllWeDoIsRun Conservation Partner: December 2019.
  • Designated 2020 Spartan Trail Conservation Partner: January 2020.
  • Earth Week Composting Presentation, “Where Do Your Food Scraps Go?” with the Queen of Compost: April 20, 2020.
  • Earth Week Sustainability Presentation, “State of Recycling and Food Waste in Ventura,” with the City of Ventura Environmental Sustainability Program: April 22, 2020.
  • Publishes Statement on Racial Violence and Injustice: June 3, 2020.
  • Virtual Trail Run and This Land Film Screening Event: July 9, 2020; with Just Add Water; This Land is a story about land access told through a journey of inclusion and empowerment.
  • Forty for the Forest Event: Executive Director, Vic Thasiah, Co-President, Mike Scarber, and Board Member, François Appéré ran 40 miles across the Sespe Wilderness to help raise awareness about a logging project in Pine Mountain; RPL then hosted a virtual event where runners were invited to run the 40 miles over the span of three weeks; all proceeds went to Los Padres ForestWatch’s Pine Mountain Defense Fund: July 25th – August 14th, 2020.
  • Fundraised for the SAGE Trail Academy: a regional training program that builds stewardship skills within the trail-user community, August 2020.

 

2019

  • Earth Day Harmon Canyon Trail Run and Habitat Restoration: April 20, 2019; with Ventura Land Trust.
  • Designated 1% for the Planet Beneficiary: July 10, 2019.
  • Run Wild Event: a gathering of both runners and the stewardship and conservation directors of the lands we run, July 18, 2019; with Ventura Land Trust, Ojai Valley Land Conservancy, Los Padres ForestWatch, Patagonia, and Topa Topa Brewing Company.
  • Environmental Scavenger Run Event: RPL builds runner ecological knowledge through a scavenger hunt at the Ventura River Preserve, July 21, 2019; with Ventura Land Trust and Los Padres ForestWatch.
  • Started Community Gel Packet Recycle Program: November 23, 2019; with Terracycle; designated a Terracycle beneficiary.
  • Annual Ventura River to the Sea Cleanup Event: December 14, 2019; with Ventura Land Trust.
  • Pine Mountain Camp + Run Event: RPL celebrates National Public Lands Day with a weekend of trail running, camping, music, environmental education, stargazing, and community; September 27-29, 2019; with Los Padres ForestWatch, naturalist Bryant Baker, geologist Tim Garvey, and UCSB astrophysicist Jamie Burke.
  • Co-hosted coalition and supported the county wildlife corridor ordinance: March 20, 2019.
  • Informed and mobilized runners to submit public comments on oil and gas leases on regional public lands: Spring/Summer 2019.
  • Joined a coalition and signed a letter to the U.S. Forest Service/U.S. Department of Agriculture on the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and proposed rulemaking: August 25, 2019.
  • Joined the 805 Youth Climate Strike in Ventura, CA: September 20, 2019.

Hey, let’s talk!

Runners for Public Lands is a 100% volunteer organization, and a member of the 1% for the Planet nonprofit network. You can financially support our work here. If you’d like to do something like what RPL does in your community, we’d love to hear from you.