Contributions send $1M to Nature Fund | SierraSun.com

Contributions send $1M to Nature Fund

Greyson Howard
Sierra Sun

Matching funds of $500,000 each from residents Fred and Barbara Ilfeld and the Tahoe Mountain Resorts Foundation have brought a local environmental fund up to nearly $1.5 million.

The Truckee Tahoe Community Foundation’s Nature Fund is an endowment for local environmental and conservation projects established in 2003.

“Dr. Ilfeld and Barbara put up $500,000 as a match challenge, and then it was our job to get somebody to match that,” said Lisa Dobey, chief executive officer of the community foundation. “We met with Tahoe Mountain Resorts and they were delighted to make that match.”

The Nature Fund, as an endowment, awards grants off of the earnings and interest of the money, so the money will always be there, Dobey said.

“As an endowment even if no more money is raised, the earnings from the endowment last forever,” said Phebe Bell, program officer for the community foundation.

The earnings currently allow for about $60,000 in grants per year. Three grants were given out in 2007 and another three in 2008, Bell said.

“Nonprofits are excited about the greater flexibility our grant funds allow them compared to government grants,” Bell said.

The Tahoe Mountain Resorts Foundation’s contribution came from its environmental fund, which is filled by transfer fees on real estate in Old Greenwood, Gray’s Crossing, and Northstar, said Neil Cunningham, executive director of the foundation.

“Whenever East West Partners comes into an area one of our main objectives is to give back to the community,” Cunningham said.

Taking between 1.5 and 1.75 percent off of properties at point of sale, the Tahoe Mountain Resorts Foundation has accrued almost $800,000 over the last four years, Cunningham said, with different amounts earmarked for the environmental and community funds.

“Up until last year real estate was selling pretty well, one $2 million home would contribute $35,000 by itself,” Cunningham said.

He said the Tahoe Mountain Resorts Foundation picked the Truckee Tahoe Community Foundation’s Nature Fund because of the Ilfeld’s matching funds, which in effect doubled their efforts.

Other contributions from the Tahoe Mountain Resorts Foundation have included scholarships, Tahoe Women’s Services, and Senior Services, Cunningham said.