Wild Rivers Project, also known as Wild Rivers Coast Alliance (WRCA), is a grantmaking group that spends money to improve coastlines and river ecosystems. Founded in 2010, it is a project of the New Venture Fund, a nonprofit controlled by the for-profit consulting firm Arabella Advisors. 1 Grants are funded by the proceeds of Bandon Preserve, a 13-hole par-3 golf course at the Bandon Dunes Golf Resort in Bandon, Oregon. 2 While WRCA grants are funded specifically through the Bandon Reserve course, staffing and other expenses of WRCA are funded by the resort. 3
Marie Simonds became the executive director in December 2019. 4 Her predecessor, Jim Seeley, resigned after working as executive director for the past eight years. Seeley passed away in January 2020 after a nine-month battle with pancreatic cancer. 5
The founder of WRCA is Mike Keiser, who also founded Bandon Dunes Golf Resort in 1999 with his sons Mike, Jr. and Chris. 6 Keiser has established golf resorts across the world after making his fortune creating gift cards made from recycled materials in the 70s. His greeting card company, Recycled Paper Greetings, was started with a $5,000 seed capital grant from his father. 7 The company grew to a multi-million-dollar success until Keiser and his business partner Phil Friedman sold the company to American Greetings in 2009. 8 Keiser is planning a Scotland-based golf resort that is facing strong opposition from environmental groups. 9 10
Keiser hired Arabella Advisors to assist with the development of WRCA. Arabella Advisors is a consulting firm that has largely advised the strategies of left-leaning customers such as the Sixteen Thirty Fund, and is ran by Eric Kessler, a left-leaning former Clinton administration staffer. 11
In 2018, WRCA launched a Small Grants Program that provided up to $5,000 in general support for grantees. 14 This program was used to fund tripods and spotting scopes installed by Shoreline Education for Awareness (SEA) on the Bandon and Charleston coasts and were estimated to be used by nearly 20,000 tourists. 15 16
In 2017, WRCA sponsored the Southern Oregon Gorse Project. 17 The purpose of this project was to mitigate the uncontrolled growth of the gorse plant, which has been classified as a “class b noxious” plant. The flammable nature of the gorse plant is credited with the intense and quickly spreading flames of the Bandon Fire in 1936, which devastated a major portion of the city. Bandon’s founder, George Bennet, brought the gorse plant from Ireland and planted it throughout the city, which only aided in the spread of the fire. 18
- New Venture Fund. Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax (Form 990). Schedule O. https://projects.propublica.org/nonprofits/organizations/205806345/201843169349302864/IRS990ScheduleO
- Staff, News. “Wild Rivers Coast Alliance Finds New Home at Resort.” KCBY. KCBY, April 22, 2015. https://kcby.com/news/local/wild-rivers-coast-alliance-finds-new-home-at-resort.
- Swangard, Paul, and Dennis Howard. “Revisiting the Bandon Impact,” November 2015. https://romewi.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/BANDON-IMPACT-STATEMENT.pdf.
- “Marie Simonds to Head Wild Rivers Coast Alliance as Jim Seeley Steps Down.” Coos Bay World, December 24, 2019. https://theworldlink.com/community/bandon/news/marie-simonds-to-head-wild-rivers-coast-alliance-as-jim/article_7148055f-96b9-50a1-930c-a74947637330.html.
- Dany. “Jim Seeley 2020, Death Notice, USA.” United States Obituary Notice | 2020 January, January 31, 2020. https://usobit.com/obituaries-2020/01/jim-seeley-2020/.
- “Resort Info .” Resort Info | Bandon Dunes Golf. Accessed February 9, 2020. https://www.bandondunesgolf.com/resort-info.
- Hullett, Louise, and Matt Ward. “2017 US Open / Erin Hills: MIKE KEISER: GOLF VISIONARY.” Golf Content Network, October 22, 2018. https://www.golfcontentnetwork.com/interviews/mike-keiser-interview/.
- Kelly House. “Mike Keiser Looks to Expand Golf Portfolio with Oregon State Park Deal.” oregonlive, May 23, 2015. https://www.oregonlive.com/environment/2015/05/post_44.html.
- Croley, Michael. “A Stunning St. Lucia Golf Resort Is Really Out of the Way. That’s by Design.” The New York Times. The New York Times, February 7, 2020. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/07/todaysinyt/saint-lucia-golf-resort-design.html.
- McKenna, Kevin. “Highland Fury as Trump Rival Drives Golf Course Plan Forward.” The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, June 23, 2018. https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/jun/23/highland-fury-trump-rival-drives-golf-course-plan.
- “Economy and Ecology.” The Ford Family Foundation. Accessed February 11, 2020. https://www.tfff.org/community-vitality/spring-2012-issue-1/economy-and-ecology.
- “Oregon Community Foundation Announces $500,000 Investment to Improve Access to Child Care in Oregon’s South Coast ” Oregon Community Foundation.” Oregon Community Foundation. Accessed February 8, 2020. https://oregoncf.org/news/oregon-community-foundation-announces-500000-investment-to-improve-access-to-child-care-in-oregon-south-coast/.
- “Wild Rivers Coast Alliance.” Facebook. Accessed February 8, 2020. https://www.facebook.com/pg/wildriverscoastalliance/posts/.
- “Wild Rivers Coast Alliance Announces Small Grants Program.” Coos Bay World, October 2, 2018. https://theworldlink.com/bandon/news/wild-rivers-coast-alliance-announces-small-grants-program/article_1c9b6b5e-c5eb-5f06-aae3-9f6fd64e4c82.html.
- Stenberg, Bill. “SEAScope.” Shoreline Education for Awareness, 2018. https://seaedu.files.wordpress.com/2018/06/summer-2018-final.pdf.
- “2018 Annual Report.” Wild Rivers Coast Alliance. WRCA Staff, 2018. https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5df872aca4001534bca3d512/t/5e0bcc732af054347fdf0f8f/1577831547305/WRCA-AR_2018.pdf.
- “Southern Oregon Gorse Project.” Oregon Solutions. Accessed February 8, 2020. https://orsolutions.org/osproject/southern-oregon-gorse-project.
- Oregon History Project. Accessed February 8, 2020. https://oregonhistoryproject.org/articles/historical-records/bandon-fire-1936/#.Xj7LkxNKh24.