Director of External Affairs, Idaho
Raised in Idaho, Kari Kostka joined The Nature Conservancy in Idaho in 2019 to lead TNC’s policy and advocacy efforts aimed at building partnerships for conservation policy and public funding. She serves as the government relations point at both the federal and state levels and oversees the management of the chapter’s Climate Program.
Prior to joining TNC, Kari spent several years facilitating strategic planning, policy development, legislation and rulemaking as the strategic planning manager for the Idaho Department of Lands. She also held similar duties as policy analyst for the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality between 2011 and 2016.
Kari holds a bachelor’s degree in environmental science and politics from Willamette University and a master’s degree in public administration in environmental and natural resources policy from Boise State University.
March 15, 2022
Policy and advocacy work can be difficult to put a finger on. The impact is not always immediately visible—especially compared to TNC’s work on the ground—but our policy work is the bedrock for much of this success. Federal conservation programs and public funding sources allow us to be more ambitious and work at a scale not possible through private funding alone.
Passage of the Great American Outdoors Act in 2020, for example, provided full and permanent funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), or $900 million annually—for the first time in the fund’s more than 50-year history. LWCF funds a host of programs, including the Forest Legacy Program, which has accounted for the conservation of more than 100,000 acres in northern Idaho. These projects keep working lands working, support local timber economies, and help keep migration corridors intact, among many other benefits.
New federal funding through vehicles like the recent Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) will be instrumental in scaling up other areas of TNC’s work, such as our prescribed fire pilot program featured in this newsletter. There is tremendous interest for TNC to greatly expand this model across the state and the IIJA will likely provide much of the funding needed to do so.
We need solutions that address local challenges and fit the needs of Idahoans. It’s why we’re talking about policies to address drought and wildfire, and policies to leverage the carbon storage potential of our agricultural and forested lands. And, above all, we need durable policy that will outlast swings in political leadership to ensure we’re on a path for long-term change.
Whether it is our work making a difference on the ground, in the policy realm, or through partnerships, we couldn’t do it without you.
Director of External Affairs