News

Interior Department Restores Wilderness Rules

 

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced yesterday that the Obama Administration will reverse a Bush-era policy and make millions of acres of pristine BLM lands eligible for Wilderness designation. The order directs the BLM to identify and maintain an updated inventory of lands with wilderness characteristics. This is important because, though only Congress can designate Wilderness, the order directs the BLM to plan for potential future Wilderness designations by ensuring that certain lands maintain Wilderness qualities until Congress can act. The order overturns a Bush-era policy that stripped the BLM of its authority to administratively protect wild places that meet the definition of Wilderness.

Click here for the full story from the Associated Press.

Click here for an Interior Department Q&A about the new policy.

Conservation Alliance Well Represented at Cyclocross National Championships

The 2010 Cyclocross National Championships were held in our hometown of Bend, Oregon last week. Several Conservation Alliance member companies — Yakima, Pearl Izumi, Clif Bar — were on hand as sponsors. It was a wild scene with more than 10,000 spectators cheering on the riders who cranked their way through a course sloppy with mud, snow and spongy grass.

Conservation Alliance Program Associate Serena Bishop Gordon (pictured above) kicked butt in both the Women's Masters 30-35 race (placing 8th overall) and in the Women's Elite race (placing 27th overall). Michael Carroll, who works for the Wilderness Support Center, a Conservation Alliance grantee, also completed the Men's Masters 35-39 race.

Meanwhile, Conservation Alliance Executive Director John Sterling was on hand to cheer on both Serena and Michael, and to expose his two children (pictured below) to the wonders of cyclocross fans.

Condit Dam Removal Means Restoration Of White Salmon River is Set

 

Exciting news on the free-flowing river front. The prospect of removing Condit Dam on the White Salmon River moved closer to reality last week when the Federal Energy Regulatory Commissioning formally ordered the removal of the dam.

The decision means that dam removal is now official for October 2011.

"We conclude, based on the record of this case, that the benefits of dam removal to anadromous fish, wildlife, and whitewater recreation outweigh the costs associated with the loss of Condit dam and Northwestern Lake," project surrender order Commissioners of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission stated.

Many partners have been working on this project, and with the reality of dam removal around the corner, excitement is mounting. "The rivers of the Columbia River Gorge represent some of the nation's most outstanding whitewater resources, and at the heart of the Gorge the White Salmon River is known worldwide for its scenic beauty and high quality whitewater", noted Thomas O'Keefe, American Whitewater's Pacific Northwest Stewardship Director.

"Condit Dam was originally constructed a century ago for hydropower and at the time met a local community need. Now we recognize other values of the river and while the dam itself is big, the hydropower project is relatively small especially in light of its major environmental impacts–its time has passed."

At 125 feet, the dam will be one of the largest dams ever removed. You can read more about the anticipated dam removal on the American Whitewater site. A big congrats to everyone that was involved on this project; we love celebrating free-flowing rivers!

Conservation Stories: The North Face Canada Runs Holiday Facebook Campaign to Support David Suzuki Foundation

 

The work at Conservation Alliance wouldn't be possible without all of our outdoor industry brand members. But a lot of them aren't only involved with Conservation Alliance; many of our member brands are committed to a diverse variety of environmental causes. Today we're highlighting The North Face Canada, who launched a Facebook campaign Wednesday December 15, 2010 to support David Suzuki Foundation, which works toward environmental conservation through education, advocacy and policy work.

***

From The North Face blog

If you don’t already “like” The North Face on Facebook, now’s the time to do so for a great cause! Between now and December 31st, The North Face Canada will be donating $1 for each new user that “likes” our Facebook page to the David Suzuki Foundation, which works toward environmental conservation through education, advocacy and policy work. The donation, up to $20,000, will be announced on December 31st.

Visit our Facebook page to participate and to find daily tips on how to be environmentally friendly this holiday season. 

 “As the world’s leading outdoor apparel and equipment brand, The North Face continuously strives to implement more sustainable business practices and reduce our carbon footprint,” states Corey Stecker, Marketing Manager of The North Face Canada. “We are excited to work with the David Suzuki Foundation to show Canada just how easy it is to be eco-friendly this holiday season.”

 “We are grateful to The North Face for this support and we applaud Canadians who are making environmentally friendly choices during the holiday season,” said Dr. Faisal Moola, Director of Science the David Suzuki Foundation. “It is a time to share your deepest values and remember what matters most – family, friends and our precious planet.”

Grantee Weekly Grind: Update on Hydro-Fracking in New York

fracking photo
Daniel Foster via flickr

In September, we wrote about how Conservation Alliance grantee Adirondack Mountain Club is working to protect Allegheny State Park from proposed hydro-fracking mining.

Yesterday, New York Gov. David Paterson signed an executive order halting the controversial natural gas drilling process until July 1, 2011, but it's only sort of good news.

via Treehugger:

Governor Paterson ordered a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking, that will last until July. But it's only on certain kinds of drilling—horizontal wells as opposed to vertical wellsSo while a moratorium is better than nothing at all, it's certainly no guarantee of a well-protected environment.

Read the rest of the story…

Alliance Members Urge Senate to Consider a Package of Public Lands Bills

 

The work at Conservation Alliance wouldn't be possible without all of our outdoor industry brand members. But a lot of them aren't only involved with Conservation Alliance; many of our member brands are committed to a diverse variety of environmental causes. Today we're thanking all of the companies that recently signed our letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, urging him to make time to consider a package of public lands bills during the lame duck session of Congress.

***

Conservation Alliance Executive Director John Sterling hand-delivered the letter, signed by over 35 member companies, to key Senate offices last week while he was in DC.

From John:

"It is still hard to tell whether the bills will come up, but there was certainly a lot of discussion in each office we visited about the possibility. Given the many issues Congress wants to tackle before Christmas, a lands package faces a steep uphill battle with a very tight timeline. But there are some powerful and motivated members of Congress pushing hard for it. I will keep you all posted as the effort progresses. Regardless, thank you for helping us make a strong case for these important conservation measures."

Leaders of the House Natural Resources Committee are currently discussing a list of possible bills they would like to see included in a more massive public lands, wildlife and waterways bill.

From The PEW Environment Group:

"On the list are a committee-passed proposal to turn the Devil's Staircase in Oregon into federally protected wilderness where logging and road development would be banned, and a House-passed bill to expand the Alpine Lakes Wilderness in Washington state and extend the Middle Fork Snoqualmie River and Pratt River's wild and scenic river protections.

More controversial bills include the "America's Red Rocks Wilderness Act," a bill that would designate more than 9 million acres as protected wilderness in Utah — including Desolation Canyon, the Grand Staircase-Escalante area and Glen Canyon — but has yet to be passed by the committee and lacks support from the Utah delegation."

More here

Don’t Drill, Baby! Obama Admin Should Designate the Arctic as a National Monument

 

In 2010, the Conservation Alliance awarded Alaska Wilderness League a grant to encourage President Obama to designate the Coastal Plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge a National Monument. Yesterday, was the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge's 50th anniversary. Take action HERE to urge President Obama to designate the Arctic as a National Monument.

via The LA Times on November 24, 2010:

Right about now in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, dozens of pregnant female polar bears are preparing to give birth in dens they dug into the snowdrifts last month, unaware that the fate of their home, and possibly their species, hinges on the price of gasoline. The Obama administration can and should change that.

Big Oil and its congressional allies have been mounting attempts to open the refuge to oil and gas development since the 1970s. There is no immediate danger that they'll succeed. Although the GOP electoral landslide this month ended Democratic control of the House and produced an incoming class of congressional freshman who are ardently pro-drilling, the Senate is still controlled by Democrats who oppose opening the refuge. More important, gas prices have been stable for more than a year. But should they spike — which is likely to happen if the economy significantly improves — the false perception that we could drill our way out of the problem would increase public support for opening the refuge, pressuring centrist Democrats to change their stance.

This is why half the members of the Senate (all of them Democrats except Independent Sen. Joe Liebermanletter of Connecticut) sent a letter to President Obama last week urging him to grant the "strongest possible" federal protection to the refuge, thus ending the perennial battles over drilling. Several environmental groups have joined in, urging Obama to designate the land as a national monument, which would prohibit most forms of development.

Read the rest of the storyAnd Take Action HERE!

Photo via

Love the Outdoors? Give Back this Holiday Season to Protect Wild Places!

 

The Conservation Alliance invites you to join in our efforts to protect North America's last wild places. We all believe in conservation, but don't always know which organizations are doing the most effective work. By supporting The Conservation Alliance, you will invest in an array of the most compelling conservation projects in North America. Our rigorous screening process ensures that our funds go to organizations with the ability to succeed.
 
Love the outdoors? Debating on a good place to put your money this holiday season? Consider making an individual donation to the Alliance. 100% of your donation to the Alliance will go directly into our grant fund to support organizations working to protect special wild lands and waterways throughout North America.  
 
Donate here to protect our wild places!

Grantee Weekly Grind: Colorado’s Summit County Commissioners Support the Polis Wilderness Plan

 

In 2010, the Conservation Alliance awarded Colorado Environmental Coalition (CEC) a grant to protect wilderness quality lands in Colorado for the benefit of their wildlife populations, scenery, backcountry recreation opportunities, importance to Colorado's long-term economic prosperity, the many important environmental services they provide, and future generations. Last week, the CEC recognized the Summit County commissioners for their support of Congressman Jared Polis' wilderness bill.

Via Bob Berwyn at Summit County Citizens Voice:

SUMMIT COUNTY — Colorado conservation advocates are hopeful that their plan to expand and add wilderness areas in the state may still have a chance before the current session of Congress winds up in in a couple of months. And earlier this month, the Summit County commissioners sent a letter of support to Congressman Jared Polis, recognizing the important legacy of wilderness in Summit County.

There has been some talk of trying to move major omnibus lands act through the lame duck Congress — a measure that could include a San Juan wilderness measure, as well as the Eagle and Summit County Wilderness Preservation Act, which is a scaled-back version of the Hidden Gems wilderness proposal

Polis introduced the wilderness bill just before the November election. The measure would add about 88,000 acres of new wilderness and provide a more uncertain level of protection for another 78,000 acres under so-called companion designations on Forest Service lands in Summit and Eagle counties.

The Hidden Gems proposal, which formed the basis for Polis’s bill, originally identified about 300,000 acres on the White River National Forest as suitable for wilderness designation. After a thorough vetting process and an ongoing dialogue with stakeholders like mountain bike and motorized user groups, several areas were sliced out of the proposal, while others would be protected as recreation or conservation areas.

In early November, the Summit County commissioners sent a letter to Polis expressing measured support for his wilderness bill, specifically praising Polis for addressing the concerns of the wildfire council and the local mountain biking community.

County Commissioner Karn Stiegelmeier said there are still a few lingering concerns about impacts to mountain bike trails, but that the Polis bill is a move in the right direction.

The letter from the commissioners also addressed specific wording the Polis measure that is related to the ability of the Forest Service to pre- and post-fire mitigation. The letter also addresses the issue of funding for public land management.

The Pitkin County Commissioners have voted to support the Polis wilderness bill, according the Colorado Independent.

photo by Zach Dischner

Conservation Stories: Timberland Plants Virtual Trees for Real Change

The work at Conservation Alliance wouldn't be possible without all of our outdoor industry brand members. But a lot of them aren't only involved with Conservation Alliance; many of our member brands are committed to a diverse variety of environmental causes. Every Thursday we'll be featuring a cross-post from one of our member companies to highlight the causes that they're active in. Today we're celebrating member company Timberland for the Earthkeepers Virtual Forest, a Facebook application that invites users to plant virtual trees to make a real difference.

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Are you excited about planting trees? We certainly are. So much so that in addition to the real trees we're planting around the world, we've launched a new Timberland Earthkeepers Virtual Forest application on Facebook.  By creating their own individual virtual forests and inviting friends to plant trees in them, members of the Facebook  community are helping to get real trees planted in Haiti. So far, as a result of the Facebook community's adoption of the application, which was launched in October, 1,762 real trees will be planted in Haiti

If you haven't checked it out already, go ahead and do so. By either planting trees in already existing virtual forests or by creating your own forest, you can help Timberland plant an additional 1 million real trees in Haiti.  It's that simple. The more virtual trees and virtual forests, the more real trees we'll plant in Haiti (up to 1 million) – above and beyond the ones we're already planting there. Create a forest and invite your friends to do the same and then plant trees in each other's forests too. Nature will thank you. Haiti will thank you and Timberland will thank you by planting more trees. And while you're there, check out the videos that chronicle our projects in Haiti and share them with your friends. Then, share your ideas with other virtual tree planters from all around the world on the CONVERSATION tab.

We're also working on some updates to the Virtual Forest, so stay tuned for those changes at the beginning of December.

Photo by Zach Stern

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