Cordelia Scaife May’s Colcom Foundation Supports Scenic America’s Mission To Fight Billboard Blight

Billboards, those towering structures with flashy advertisements, have long been a ubiquitous feature of the American landscape.

However, their proliferation has led to what Scenic America and Colcom Foundation term as “billboard blight” – the encroachment of these unsightly structures into our natural surroundings, diminishing the beauty of our neighborhoods and impeding efforts at community beautification.

The definition of billboard blight manifests in many forms, varying based on the type of signage and its location. In this regard, Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart’s remark on pornography in 1964, “I know it when I see it,” serves as a fitting analogy, according to the Billboard America website.

While the definition may be elusive, the reality of billboard blight is undeniable, and its presence is often brought to light through citizen complaints. In some areas, even the billboard companies themselves acknowledge the existence of this blight, albeit reluctantly.

One of the main causes of billboard blight in cities like Los Angeles is the lax enforcement of sign regulations by government officials. Over the years, this negligence has allowed billboard companies to erect signs without proper permits or in noncompliance with existing regulations.

Additionally, the influence of campaign contributions from billboard companies has swayed elected officials to soften their stances on billboard blight, perpetuating the cycle of visual pollution.

Enter Scenic America, whose tireless efforts aim to combat this blight and restore the scenic integrity of our communities. Through advocacy, education, and grassroots activism, they work to raise awareness about the detrimental effects of billboards on our landscapes and mobilize support for stronger regulations.

Recently, Scenic America received a significant boost in its fight against billboard blight with a generous donation of $170,000 from Colcom Foundation. Founded by the late Mellon heiress Cordelia Scaife May, Colcom Foundation is known for its commitment to conservation and sustainability.

 The substantial contribution from Colcom Foundation is earmarked for mapping billboard blight — a cause that aligns perfectly with the mission of Colcom Foundation founder Cordelia Scaife May.

By supporting initiatives like Scenic America’s billboard mapping project, Colcom Foundation aims to contribute to the broader effort of safeguarding our natural and built environments from the encroachment of visual pollution.

As more than 50 percent of the world’s population now resides in urban areas, and this figure is projected to reach nearly 70 percent by 2050, Colcom Foundation, driven by Cordelia Scaife May’s commitment to sustainability is dedicated to ensuring that access to nature does not become a luxury for the privileged few.

To achieve this mission, the organization supports a multifaceted approach rooted in its founder’s conservation ethos.

Firstly, the Foundation advocates for land conservation efforts, preserving natural habitats and ecosystems that are increasingly being displaced by human activities such as urbanization and agriculture.

Secondly, it promotes urban forestry initiatives, encouraging the growth and maintenance of trees and green spaces within cities to provide urban dwellers with accessible pockets of nature, echoing Cordelia Scaife May’s belief that every individual deserves to experience the beauty and serenity of the natural world.

Additionally, Colcom Foundation, guided by its founder’s environmental stewardship principles, champions responsible management and protection of natural resources and ecosystems from ecological overshoot.

Scenic America was founded in 1982 by a group of visionary individuals concerned about the deteriorating state of America’s visual character, particularly the unsightly proliferation of billboards along the nation’s roadsides.

Today, Scenic America is the only national nonprofit solely dedicated to safeguarding the scenic qualities of America’s roadways, countryside, and communities. Headquartered in Washington, DC, the organization boasts an extensive network of 46 state and local chapters and affiliates, along with over 80,000 members and supporters nationwide.

Mapping billboard blight may seem like a minor concern, but it serves crucial purposes in the battle against visual pollution.

The project provides crucial data on the extent and geographic distribution of billboard blight, allowing policymakers and community advocates to pinpoint problem areas and concentrate enforcement efforts more strategically.

Moreover, mapping billboard blight raises public awareness about this pervasive issue, empowering communities to rally for stricter regulations and fortify their neighborhoods against the encroachment of obtrusive billboard advertising.

While the absence of unsightly billboards or visual clutter may not be something you may notice as you drive across our beautiful country, your uncluttered view may just be the behind-the-scenes efforts of Scenic America and Cordelia Scaife May’s Colcom Foundation.

Their endeavors ensure that future generations can continue to experience the awe-inspiring sceneries and landscapes that define America’s natural heritage, free from the encroachment of visual blight.

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