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Walton Family Foundation Awards Grant to LightHawk Conservation Flying

February 6, 2020
Inspiring Environmental Conservation in the Colorado River Basin

DENVER – The Walton Family Foundation’s Colorado River initiative today announced a $100,000 grant to LightHawk, the largest environmental flying organization in the country that uses aviation to support conservation solutions. The grant will support LightHawk’s work to provide an important big-picture perspective throughout the Colorado River Basin to educate decision-makers about the challenges facing the river and the importance of safeguarding the river and the communities, environments and economies that rely on it.

“Seeing is believing. LightHawk’s volunteer pilots actually bring scientists, elected officials, journalists and other leaders up to get a bird's eye view of the Colorado River, so they can see firsthand how the basin is changing, and where we need conservation efforts,” said Jill Ozarski, program officer for the Walton Family Foundation’s Colorado River initiative.

The Colorado River provides water to 40 million people, irrigates 5.5 million acres of farmland in seven U.S. states and two states in Mexico, and serves as the lifeblood for native tribes, seven National Wildlife Refuges and 11 National Parks. With climate change expected to further reduce the river’s flow by as much as 30 percent by 2050, LightHawk flights use aviation to illustrate the need for forward-looking conservation solutions to protect the river.

“At LightHawk, we’re committed to accelerating conservation throughout the Colorado River Basin through the powerful perspective of flight,” said Ryan Boggs, Chief Program Officer of LightHawk. “We’re grateful for the Walton Family Foundation’s support and are excited to be able to sustain our work in the Colorado River Basin and continue to protect one of the world’s hardest-working and most-loved rivers.”

“Flying can be rigorous at times, but there’s always plenty of encouragement and rewarding moments along the way. I get to see firsthand how LightHawk flights can open hearts and minds to the incredible role the Colorado River plays across the West. We’re making life-changing views of the river more accessible – and helping to safeguard its future in the process,” said Stephanie Wells, volunteer LightHawk pilot and retired NASA pilot, who’s an expert in difficult mountain flying.

About the Walton Family Foundation
The Walton Family Foundation is, at its core, a family-led foundation. Three generations of the descendants of our founders, Sam and Helen Walton, and their spouses, work together to lead the foundation and create access to opportunity for people and communities. We work in three areas: improving K-12 education, protecting rivers and oceans and the communities they support, and investing in our home region of Northwest Arkansas and the Arkansas-Mississippi Delta. In 2018, the foundation awarded more than $595 million in grants in support of these initiatives. To learn more, visit and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

About LightHawk
Founded in 1979, LightHawk is the largest environmental flying organization in the country, engaging a network of over 300 volunteer pilots to provide more than 400 flights each year. LightHawk works with more than 100 conservation partners to help solve pressing river, ocean, land and wildlife issues. LightHawk provides the best aerial perspectives of the earth’s most significant environmental challenges, providing important data and inspiring images that help bring about important changes on the ground.