Hope for NW Salmon Recovery

The Idaho Statesman — the paper of record for the state's largest city — just published an upbeat editorial that offers a vision of hope for salmon recovery in the Columbia/Snake river systems of Idaho and Oregon. It's a good read, and shows how new leadership in Washington, with a commitment to salmon, new energy developments, and fixing aging infrastructure could finally break the impasse over whether to breach the four lower Snake River dams to save the once legendary salmon populations. Check it out.

Congress Pushes Big Public Lands Package to 2009


Congress will not vote this year on a package of legislation that includes more than 15 provisions to protect Wilderness and wild rivers on public lands in the US. Conservation Alliance grantees worked hard to build public support to protect places including Mount Hood in Oregon, Idaho's Owyhee Canyonlands, California's White Mountains, and rivers in the Snake Headwaters of Wyoming. Those campaigns eventually took legislative form, and are now included in the Omnibus Public Lands Management Act of 2008, which might have passed during the current "lame duck" session of Congress. Unfortunately, Congressional leaders decided to focus their limited time on the economic crisis, and not schedule a vote on the lands package.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid claims that the Senate will consider the package in January 2009, and we have reason to be hopeful it will pass the entire Congress and be signed into law before Spring.

If it passes in its current form, the bill would protect two million acres of wilderness, 1000 miles of rivers, and prohibit new oil and gas development on 1.2 million acres in the Wyoming Range. We look forward to keeping everyone posted on this historic initiative as it moves in 2009.

The End of Euphoria

Monday, November 10, 2008

The End of Euphoria


On November 4, 2008 the world witnessed a great day in history. Barack Obama was elected the 44th president of the United States. In a victory that can only be described as a landslide, the nation's first African-American head of state elect ushers in a new era that finally fulfills the promise of the American dream. In the collective voice of citizens casting ballots in record numbers, the people of this country have set aside old notions of race and ethnicity to elect a leader without the pedigree of a privileged few.  But rather these citizens have chosen one of their own, a man who has made his way from the least enfranchised corners of our society. Through his depth of character and the heights of his aspirations President elect Obama has demonstrated once and for all that the United States of America is indeed a great land of opportunity where anyone can achieve their dreams.

But now at the end of a bitter election the nation must be quick to cast aside the giddy euphoria of this great accomplishment. As we celebrate having passed this milestone in our history we must sober our thinking to realize that we are still a country in crisis. The so-called war on terror still rages with American soldiers fighting on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan. Our economy is in shambles, teetering on the brink of collapse. Tens of millions of our citizens lack even basic health care. And the natural environment, which sustains our human lives is in peril of irreparable harm.

So it's important for the American people to realize that there is much work to do in the coming months and years as we rebuild our nation. And as a new administration prepares its platform to lead we must also realize that the damage inflicted in recent years continues and will go on right up to the day President elect Obama is inaugurated.

In a report issued by the elect committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, Massachusetts Congressman and chairman Edward Markey laid out the details of what the American people can expect in the weeks to come. Entitled Past Is Prologue: The Bush Administration's Last 100 days Markey brings to light several efforts to deregulate environmental policies that protect air, land and water throughout the United States.

The Environmental Protection Agency aims to lower emission standards for power plants and other facilities that emit pollutants adjacent to national parks. By changing the emission standards the EPA is giving a green light to the construction of new plants near Class-1 environmentally protected sites.

In a similar policy shift the EPA will also loosen restrictions on requirements to plug leaks in pipeline fittings at petroleum refineries. Called fugitive emissions these pipe leaks will continue uncheck adding to the pollution of nearby communities and the natural areas that surround them.

The Department of the Interior has plans to make major changes to the Endangered Species Act. Allowing only 10 days for public comment the DOI will attempt to have expert scientific review taken out of the species selection process and exempt the impact of climate change as a cause of habitat recession.

Despite the historic events of the previous week America is not out the woods, not by a long shot. In fact we are only just embarking upon a very long journey toward the fulfillment of our nation's potential to be a force of good for the planet and future generations. Fortunately as president Obama can act to reverse many of these 11th hour policy changes enacted by the outgoing Bush Administration. But that will take time and will distract from other more pressing issues. As citizens it will be our responsibility to be informed and to speak out whenever the interest of a few subvert the needs of the many. And as environmental policy will likely run a distant 4th behind the economy, national security and health care in the early days of the Obama Administration we must remain vigilant to acts of corporate greed and political expediency that threaten our precious natural resources of air, land and water.


-James Mills

The Oudoor Professional

How Does The NEXT Generation Perceive Conservation

Check out this great article at Orion Magazine sharing how people all over the world are using the internet to promote environmental not-for-profits that they support. Last year hundreds of individuals uploaded homemade videos to YouTube discussing environmental and humanitarian issues they cared about and the not-for-profit organizations that were working toward solutions. YouTube has become a new way for people to express what they care about and help each other find solutions to the problem. It has this to say about the NEXT generation: “it’s upbeat, team-oriented, and tech-savvy; it makes broad connections among social, economic, and environmental concerns; it focuses on small, practical changes and makes them fun.”  Enjoy the read!



Steve Casimiro speaks out about Omnibus Public Lands Management Act of 2008

Check out the November 7 article on the National Geographic Adventure blog.  Conservation Alliance has funded a large number of the projects included in this bill.  If the Omnibus passes we will have a lot to celebrate!

"Vote the Environment" doesn't stop with the culmination of the presidential election: Congress is set to protect 3 million acres of land across the United States and add safeguards to 1,000 miles of rivers-but it needs encouragement to get its lame-duck butt back to D.C. to approve it."

read more at:

Slacktivism: Antidote to Apathy

Are you a slacktivist????

 We at ConservationNEXT are working to reverse this growing trend…  check out the transcript below from a recent NPR Perspective that gets to the heart of what we are trying to do and who were are hoping to reach with

Slacktivism: Antidote to Apathy
September 11, 2008 from Day to Day
ALEX CHADWICK, host: Back now with Day to Day and What's the New What?

MADELEINE BRAND, host:  We have one of these stories for you every week from Youth Radio. We're tracking trends among the young people. Hope is the new rebellion, inner city the new in-crowd.

CHADWICK: And with the latest fad, here's Nico Savidge.

NICO SAVIDGE: What's the new what? I say slacktivism is the new apathy. Everyone knows the old stereotypes about the so-called apathetic teenagers of Generations X and Y. We couldn't care less about politics. We'd rather rock out on "Guitar Hero" than learn about issues affecting our community. We're apathetic. We're tuned out. We're uninformed. But now, my peers are finding a new way to get involved in politics, slacktivism.

Mr. MIKE DICENZO (Assistant Editor, The Onion): (Reading) For years, government-backed Arab forces known as the Janjaweed militia had attempted to wipe out black farmers in Sudan's western Darfur region.

SAVIDGE: That's Mike DiCenzo, senior writer at The Onion, reading from the satirical atlas, "Our Dumb World."

Mr. DICENZO: (Reading) However, just as they were about to set fire to another village, word reached them that an American teenager thought that what was happening in Sudan, quote, "sucked." After learning that all her friends agreed, they immediately called off the whole genocide.

SAVIDGE: DiCenzo was mocking slacktivism, the hybrid of slackers and activists.

CAITLIN GREY: I get at least five emails a day asking me to either sign a petition, send a letter, call a congressman…

SAVIDGE: Sixteen-year-old Caitlin Grey is a classic slacktivist.

GREY: Would be that I always type in my name and email address when they ask me to sign a petition. When they ask me to call a congressman? Never done it once.

SAVIDGE: You won't see slacktivists marching the street for their beliefs, but you will see their passive forms of protest on blogs and Facebook pages. Here, Caitlin reads off some of the causes she supports online.

GREY: End the Seal Hunt, Stop Global Warming, Rebirth the Earth, Trees for Tomorrow – didn't even know I was on that one – PETA…

SAVIDGE: While Caitlin is realistic that her Facebook support doesn't affect those causes, some people think that these symbolic acts create real change. Slacktivism may have replaced out right apathy, but often the only thing it changes is how active people think they are. However, organizations like Product Red have turned slacktivism into action. So far, proceeds from Red-branded MP3 players, t-shirts and laptops have raised more than 110 million dollars for HIV/AIDS treatment and education in Africa. Although examples of effective slacktivism are rare, it's great that my peers have found a way to educate themselves about major issues in the world. Even if our political dedication stops when we leave the Internet, awareness is often the first step in creating real change. It is just like those old GI Joe PSAs.

(Soundbite of GI Joe Public Service Announcement)

Unidentified Child: Now I know.

Unidentified Man: And knowing is half the battle.

Unidentified Man and SAVIDGE: (Singing) GI Joe.

SAVIDGE: Oh, that's embarrassing.

(Soundbite of song "Slacker") Mr. TECH N9NE: (Singing) (I'm a slacker) Never did I have a lotta dough. (I'm a slacker) Smoking pot and watching videos. (I'm a slacker) Go whichever way the wind blows…

BRAND: Nico Savidge on slacktivism. What's the New What? is Youth Radio and Day to Day's weekly series on cultural trends.

Copyright ©1990-2005 National Public Radio®. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to National Public Radio. This transcript may not be reproduced in whole or in part without prior written permission. For further information, please contact NPR's Rights and Reuse Associate at (202) 513-2030.

Drill, Baby, Drill! Part 2: Bush’s Parting Shot Targets Utah Wildlands

On election day, when the media and most Americans were focusing on other things, the Bush Administration announced plans to sell new oil and gas leases on thousands of acres of public land on or near the boundaries of Arches and Canyonlands National Parks and Dinosaur National Monument. These new leases will go up for sale on December 19, just a few days before Christmas, when most people will, again, be distracted by the holidays.

The new leases took the National Park Service by surprise according to a Salt Lake Tribune article. Also surprised was the incoming Obama Administration. Demonstrating that change is coming to the White House, Obama transition team leader John Podesta said on Fox News Sunday:

"You see the Bush administration even today moving aggressively to do things that I think are probably not in the interest of the country. They want to have oil and gas drilling in some of the most sensitive, fragile lands in Utah that they're going to try to do right as they are walking out the door. I think that's a mistake." 

Conservation Alliance grantee Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance encourages you to thank President-elect Obama for his concern over oil and gas drilling in Utah.

The New York Times published a good editorial about this bad idea on Friday.

What Does the Election Mean for Conservation?


Tuesday's election was historic on many levels. Aside from the obvious – our first African American President, a record voter turnout – in the quieter corners of the election results lie some great news for conservation in the US. The Conservation Alliance has invested heavily in grassroots efforts to build support at the local level for the protection of wild lands and rivers managed by the federal government. Many of those local efforts have taken, or will soon take, legislative form to be considered by the US Congress. Following is a rundown of states where our grantees are working on projects, and how the election has changed the political dynamics for those projects.

Jeff Merkley has defeated Senator Gordon Smith in one of the tightest Senate races in the country. Smith was the last Republican Senator on the west coast, and has been inconsistent on conservation. He strongly supports the proposal for new wilderness designations on Mount Hood, and over time came to support similar designations for two desert wildlands, the Badlands and Spring Basin. But, he has refused to support a popular effort to protect the tributaries of the Rogue River. To call Smith a conservation leader would be a stretch, as he usually follows the lead of Oregon's other Senator, Ron Wyden. Most in the conservation community think Merkley will be much stronger on conservation.

Efforts to protect wild places in Colorado got a huge boost from the election of Congressman Mark Udall to the Senate seat vacated by Wayne Allard. Udall is a champion of conservation, and led the effort in the House of Representatives to move legislation to protect 250,000 acres of wilderness in Rocky Mountain National Park. Colorado now has two Senators who are committed to protecting wildlands and rivers. Allard was often an obstacle to conservation in the state, so Udall's victory is a good sign for the future of the Rocky Mountain National Park effort, and for the campaigns to protect Dominguez Canyon, Browns Canyon, and public lands in the San Juan Mountains.

New Mexico
Tom Udall (Mark's cousin) won the Senate seat vacated by long-time opponent of conservation Pete Domenici. Udall is a strong advocate for conservation, and is likely to help efforts to protect wilderness areas throughout New Mexico. On the House side, Martin Heinrich, a strong conservationist, won the seat that represents Albuquerque and surrounding areas. Heinrich once served on the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance board of directors.

Idaho remains a challenging state for conservation, but the election brought two major changes. First, former governor Jim Risch won the Senate seat vacated by Larry Craig, who spent his entire career in the Senate fighting conservation efforts. Risch supports Idaho Conservation League's (ICL) proposal for Wilderness designations in the Boulder-White Clouds Mountains. In other great news, ICL board member Walt Minnick beat incumbent Bill Sali in the race for one of Idaho's two House seats. Minnick will join Congressman Mike Simpson – the champion of legislation for the Boulder-White Clouds – in representing Idaho. 

There were no major changes in Montana. Pro-conservation Senator Max Baucus easily won re-election, and now has a long six years before his next campaign. With that breathing room, it seems likely that Baucus will join with Senator Jon Tester in his effort to champion legislation to protect 500,000 acres of wilderness in the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest, which Tester has indicated he will introduce in 2009.

There were no changes in California that will significantly impact conservation efforts there. Several California Wilderness and Wild and Scenic Rivers bills are pending in Congress, and their champions all won re-election.

Each year, the League of Conservation Voters publishes a scorecard to gauge how members of Congress voted on key energy and environmental issues. The higher the score, the more frequently a member voted for the environment. Following is a summary the new members of Congress from key states, the people they are replacing, and their respective LCV Scorecard ratings. Most of the newly elected do not have voting records to rate, hence the n/a.

State  New Member(LCV Score)   Replacing (LCV Score)
CO  Sen. Mark Udall (92%)     Sen. Wayne Allard (18%)
NM  Sen. Tom Udall (92%)     Sen. Pete Domenici (18%)
NM  Rep. Martin Heinrich (n/a)    Rep. Heather Wilson (23%)
OR  Sen. Jeff Merkley (n/a)     Sen. Gordon Smith (38%)
ID  Rep. Walt Minnick (n/a)    Rep. Bill Sali (8%)
ID  Sen. Jim Risch (n/a)     Sen. Larry Craig (9%)
NC  Sen. Kay Hagan (n/a)     Sen. Elizabeth Dole (12%)
NH  Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (n/a)    Sen. John Sununu (35%)

On larger issues, yesterday's election indicates that the US is likely to take greater leadership on the worldwide effort to combat global warming and encourage new advancements in alternative energy. President-elect Barack Obama made investing in new energy technologies a key campaign issue. He has also made strong statements about curbing carbon dioxide emissions. We can also expect Obama to appoint pro-environment people to fill important positions at EPA, and the Interior and Agriculture departments, which manage our public lands.
That's the quick overview. All in all, the conservation movement has endured a difficult eight years, but the next four should be very productive ones for conservation.

Rick Ridgeway and Lucas Reynolds featured in Timex Return to the Outdoors campaign

Timex has produced the final two videos in their Return to the Outdoors promotion. You can view both Rick Ridgeway's and Lucas Reynold's pieces on the youtube links below.  Each film starts with a nice PSA about The Conservation Alliance and shares each person's story about their special place.  I also recommend checking out to see all of the videos in this series and to learn more about this inspirational campaign.

Rick Ridgeway:

Lucas Reynolds:

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