Wrapping up a spectacular year, Conservation Alliance grantees scored two major victories in December, protecting 558,000 acres of federal land in Eastern Nevada and closing Montana’s spectacular Rocky Mountain Front to new oil and gas leasing.

Grantee Nevada Wilderness Project ( led the effort to secure Wilderness designation for lands in Nevada’s White Pine County, including areas adjacent to Great Basin National Park. The Conservation Alliance supported the Nevada effort with a $30,000 grant in 2005, which helped NWP build local support for the Wilderness designations. Congress passed the White Pine County Public Conservation, Recreation, and Economic Development Act in the final hours of the session on December 8.

Also in the waning hours of the session, Congress passed legislation that permanently closes at least 350,000 acres of Montana’s Rocky Mountain Front to new oil and gas leases. The Montana Wilderness Association ( played a key role in moving the legislation. The Conservation Alliance supported MWA with a $60,000 grant in March, 2006.

The Nevada and Montana conclude a year in which Conservation Alliance funding helped seven organizations win significant and permanent victories that: protected more than 1 million acres of land in the US; established a 4.4-million-acre Provincial Park in British Columbia; removed one dam in Colorado; and permanently prohibited oil and gas drilling on at least 350,000 acres in Montana.

“These two wins close out a year of unprecedented success for The Conservation Alliance,” said Executive Director John Sterling. “Our members have done a terrific job placing our funding into the hands of organizations that get the job done.”

Following is a summary of the good news The Conservation Alliance has reported in 2006:

  • Cedar Mountains Wilderness (January 2006): 100,000 acres protected in Utah’s West Desert (Grantee: Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance)
  • Great Bear Rainforest (January 2006): 4.4-million-acre Provincial Park established in British Columbia (Grantee: Raincoast Conservation Society)
  • Chipeta Dam Removal (February 2006): Obsolete dam removed on Colorado’s North Fork Gunnison River (Grantee: North Fork River Improvement Assn.)
  • California North Coast Wilderness (October 2006): 275,000 acres protected on California’s North Coast  (Grantee: Calif. Wild Heritage Campaign)
  • New England Wilderness (December 2006): 76,000 acres protected in Vermont and New Hampshire (Grantees: Appalachian Mtn. Club, ForestWatch)
  • Nevada Wilderness (December 2006): 558,000 acres protected in White Pine County Nevada (Grantee: Nevada Wilderness Project)
  • Rocky Mountain Front (December 2006): 350,000 acres in Montana permanently closed to oil and gas drilling (Grantee: Montana Wilderness Assn.)


Mountain Hardwear raised $3,930 for The Conservation Alliance at its parking lot sale in November. The company gave a 10 percent discount to any customer that made a $10 donation to The Conservation Alliance. The contribution will help the organization in its ongoing efforts to protect wild places where outdoor customers recreate.

“We are fortunate to work with Mountain Hardwear because they always look for creative ways to support The Conservation Alliance,” said John Sterling, Executive Director of the Alliance.

The November event supplements a similar effort in May, which raised $2,655 for the Alliance. Together, the two initiatives generated $6,585 for the group’s conservation efforts.

“We’re excited that our customers responded so positively to the fundraising effort,” said Mountain Hardwear’s Paige Boucher. “It has always been important to us that we support efforts to protect the wild places for our customers and for wildlife.”

Mountain Hardwear is a long-time Conservation Alliance member with a strong commitment to conservation. In addition to contributing annual dues the Alliance’s grant fund, the company has helped promote environmental causes important to them. Mountain Hardwear regularly features information about conservation efforts in catalogs, and encourages employees to be active in these campaigns.

“We couldn’t ask for a better partner in conservation,” said Sterling, whose group is celebrating several significant conservation successes this year. “Mountain Hardwear has been an important part of everything we’ve accomplished in 2006.”


Adding to a string of conservation success stories this year, Conservation Alliance grantees secured permanent protection for 76,000 acres of federal land in New Hampshire and Vermont. This victory is the fifth significant accomplishment for Alliance grantees in 2006.

President Bush signed today the New England Wilderness Act. The bill protects 42,000 acres in Vermont’s Green Mountain National Forest, and 34,000 acres in New Hampshire’s White Mountain National Forest.

“We are honored to have played a role in protecting these special lands in the Northeastern US,” said John Sterling, Conservation Alliance Executive Director. “We have many member companies based in New England who will benefit from these designations. Outdoor customers in the region now have more Wilderness to enjoy.”

In 2003, The Conservation Alliance contributed $28,000 to the Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC) for the group’s work to identify lands in New Hampshire worthy of Wilderness designation, and secure recommendations from the Forest Service that those lands be protected.

“Thanks to support from The Conservation Alliance, AMC was able to involve thousands of concerned citizens in 2004 to advocate for wilderness protection,” said AMC Executive Director Andrew Falender. The 2004 public comment period determined which lands in New Hampshire would be included for protection in the 2006 legislation.

Our $20,000 grant to Forest Watch in March 2006 helped build support for the Green Mountain National Forest protections.

“The Conservation Alliance’s investment in and support of Forest Watch’s work enabled this to happen,” said Jim Northup, Forest Watch’s Executive Director. “Raise a toast for wild Nature today, and give thanks.”

The New England success is the latest in a flurry of victories supported by Conservation Alliance funding, summarized below:

  • Cedar Mountains Wilderness: 100,000 acres protected in Utah’s West Desert (January 2006)
  • Great Bear Rainforest: 4.4-million-acre Provincial Park established in British Columbia (January 2006)
  • Chipeta Dam Removal: Obsolete dam removed on Colorado’s North Fork Gunnison River (February 2006)
  • California North Coast Wilderness: 275,000 acres protected on California’s North Coast (October 2006)
  • New England Wilderness: 76,000 acres protected in Vermont and New Hampshire (December 2006)

“As indicated by these successes, The Conservation Alliance is good at identifying projects that can succeed given the necessary financial support,” said Sterling. “It is important that we show our member companies a solid return on their investment. This has been a banner year.”

As the year winds down, The Conservation Alliance could yet celebrate conservation victories on Oregon’s Mount Hood, Idaho’s Boulder-White Clouds Mountains, and wildlands in Nevada’s White Pine County.


A Conservation Alliance grantee, the California Wild Heritage Campaign (, has scored a major conservation victory in California. The Alliance and individual member companies played an active role in the Campaign’s effort to secure Wilderness designation for 273,000 acres of federal land on the state’s North Coast.

Congress passed the Northern California Coastal Wild Heritage Wilderness Act, and President Bush is expected to sign the bill into law any day. Four years in the making, the bill will permanently protect special places including the Lost Coast, the King Range, and additions to existing Wilderness areas in the region. It also designates 21 miles of the Black Butte River as Wild and Scenic.

“We are thrilled that Congress acted to save these very special lands for their habitat and recreational values,” said John Sterling, Conservation Alliance Executive Director. “Our member companies, many of which are based in California, benefit when lands are added to the Wilderness Preservation System.”

Conservation Alliance members played an active role in the effort to protect Wilderness on the North Coast. Several companies – including Mountain Hardwear, Wilderness Press, Patagonia, and Adventure 16 — featured information about the campaign in their catalogs and retail stores.

The Conservation Alliance also organized three trips to Washington DC on which business representatives spoke to Congressional offices about the economic value of Wilderness in California. Companies that participated in DC trips are Patagonia, prAna, Wilderness Press, Mountain Hardwear, The North Face, Atlas Snow-Shoe, and Marmot.

“Conservation Alliance members were among the most effective voices that advocated for new Wilderness on the North Coast,” said Traci Sheehan, Campaign Director for the California Wild Heritage Campaign. “Our elected officials were truly impressed that so many businesses cared so deeply about conserving our wild places.”

“Wilderness is an important part of our business, and of the California landscape,” said Devaki Murch, Marketing Coordinator for prAna, who participated in two trips to Washington in support of the legislation. “It’s encouraging to see that outdoor businesses can have a positive impact on the effort to save Wilderness.”


A group of four Conservation Alliance members traveled to Washington DC to talk to members of Congress about the importance of securing new Wilderness designations in Idaho’s Boulder-White Clouds Mountains.

Representatives from Cascade Designs, Chaco, Outdoor Industry Association, and The Conservation Alliance spent two days in meetings with 12 Congressional offices to show support for legislation that would protect 319,000 acres of federal land as Wilderness. The bill would also cap motorized recreation on another 500,000 acres of land surrounding the Wilderness.

The Conservation Alliance organized the trip in conjunction with the Idaho Conservation League (ICL) ( a recent Conservation Alliance grant recipient.

“When possible, we like to supplement our financial support with on-the-ground advocacy,” said John Sterling, Conservation Alliance Executive Director. “Our member companies recognize the value of protecting wild places for non-motorized use.”

Conservationists in Idaho have been working for roughly 25 years to protect the Boulder-White Clouds Mountains. During that time, off-road vehicle registrations have skyrocketed from 750 in 1980 to 104,000 today.

“Motorized recreation in Idaho is on the rise, making it urgently important that we preserve some areas for non-motorized use,” said Sterling.

It has been 26 years since Congress last designated new Wilderness areas in Idaho, a trend that ICL hopes to change by showing broad support for protected public lands.
“The strength of this endeavor comes from the diversity of allies, and Conservation Alliance members broadened that even more at a very important time,” said Johnson.

Trip participants included Tami Fairweather (Cascade Designs), Brian Scranton (Chaco), Amy Roberts (Outdoor Industry Association), and Sterling.


The Conservation Alliance sent checks totaling $250,000 to ten organizations working to protect wild places throughout North America. The donations marked the Alliance’s final disbursal of funding for 2006, and brought the year’s contributions to a new high of $530,000.

By a vote of the group’s 120 member companies, The Conservation Alliance made donations to ten grassroots conservation organizations as follows:

 Organization (Location)    Amount
Alaska Wilderness League (Washington, DC)  $30,000
Greater Yellowstone Coalition (Bozeman, MT)  $30,000
Carolina Climber’s Coalition (Spartanburg, SC)  $30,000
Northeast Wilderness Trust (Boston, MA)     $30,000
Colorado Environmental Coaltion (Denver, CO)   $25,000
American Whitewater (Cullowhee, NC)    $20,000
Deschutes Basin Land Trust (Bend, OR)   $25,000
Nevada Wilderness Project (Reno, NV)  $20,000
Forest Guardians (Santa FE, NM)   $20,000
Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (Ottawa, ON)   $20,000
 Total   $250,000

“Through The Conservation Alliance, our member companies are supporting the most effective conservation organizations in the US,” said Conservation Alliance Executive Director John Sterling. “We’ve already celebrated several significant conservation victories this year, and look forward to more good news from this round of grantees.”

This round of grant recipients reflects the geographic distribution of Conservation Alliance members. Conservation Alliance funds will support efforts to: purchase a popular climbing area in North Carolina; secure new Wilderness designations for federal lands in Nevada, Colorado, and Alaska; protect a private land wilderness in New Hampshire; improve federal land management in Wyoming and New Mexico; restore rivers in the Carolinas; save a 9.6-million-acre watershed in Canada’s Northwest Territories; and protect a 30,000-acre forest in Central Oregon.

“We work hard to identify great projects throughout North America,” said Sterling. “It’s important to our members that we support a diverse range of organizations.”

With the conclusion of this funding cycle, the Conservation Alliance has contributed more than $5.3 million since its founding in 1989. The Alliance has budgeted to make $500,000 in grants in 2006, a 38 percent increase in just two years.

“The buzz around The Conservation Alliance continues to grow. We’ve added more than 25 new members this year, which increases our budget to support more conservation efforts,” said Sterling. “The outdoor industry is really stepping up in its support for wildland protection.”

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