Utah Senator Fights Proposed National Monuments


Utah Senator Robert Bennett introduced legislation yesterday that would prevent any President — now or in the future — from designating new National Monuments in Utah without the consent of Congress. The move came just days after a leaked Department of Interior memo showed that the agency is eyeing 14 potential new Monuments, including two in Utah. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar explained that the memo was just a draft. Click here for the full story.

Hostility to protected public lands in Utah is nothing new, but this is an unusual step. Since 1906, the American Antiquities Act has given US Presidents the authority to designate National Monuments from any sites "situated upon the lands owned or controlled by the Government of the United States." Even George W. Bush used the Antiquities Act to designate a National Monument. Senator Bennett's legislation does not stand much of a chance of passing in this Congress, but it demonstrates how adamantly opposed Utah's elected officials are to protecting spectacular wild places like the San Rafael Swell and Cedar Mesa.

It's amazing that the state that benefits economically from the outdoor industry's trade show — held twice yearly in Salt Lake — works so hard to obstruct protections for its special wild places.

Before And After: Dillsboro Dam Removed On The Tuckaseegee

Last week, American Whitewater, a Conservation Alliance grantee, celebrated the removal of Dillsboro Dam on the Tuckaseegee River in North Carolina. For the first time in more than 100 years, this portion of river will run free! Check out the before and after photos below.

Congratulations to American Whitewater and all of the folks who worked so hard on this conservation victory! 

It's a free-flowing Tuckaseegee!


Pacts Signed to Restore Klamath River, Recover Salmon

Yesterday, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski and U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar signed agreements for the nation's largest-ever dam-removal project. In an effort to recover endangered salmon populations, the agreements will remove four dams on the Klamath River and revise how water is shared in the basin in southern Oregon and Northern California.

Channeling his former movie star persona, Gov. Schwarzenegger addressed the crowd who gathered to watch the historic agreement take place.

From the Salem Statesman Journal: "It was 15 months ago that we were all promising each other we are going to do everything we can to get through our differences and finalize an agreement to tear down those dams — to say 'hasta la vista' to the dams and restore the majesty of the Klamath River," he said… "I can see the salmon fishery screaming, 'I'll be back.' "

In all seriousness, he did say California would do its part to raise the $250 million to carry out its share of the agreement. The expected cost of dam removal and basin restoration is about $1.5 billion. Oregon has already committed about $200 million; the federal government will contribute the other $1 billion.
Thursday's agreement is a critical step, but it's been a long battle, and it's far from over.
From the New York Times: "The dams, which have provided hydroelectric power and water for farm irrigation for decades, have caused severe depletions in salmon populations in the 250-mile river, hurting Indian tribes in the area and helping force shutdowns of some West Coast commercial fishing. 

"In 2001, farmers were angered when irrigation was cut off to provide more water for salmon migrating up the river to spawn. The next year, irrigation was restored, only to have tens of thousands of fish die. The roller coaster increased tension but eventually led to talks. The basic outlines of the agreements became final in November 2008 under the Bush administration.

"The agreements would remove the four dams by 2020 if a series of federal studies and Congressional approval and appropriations follow suit; the interior secretary is to make a final decision on removal by March 2012.

Gov. Kulongoski added: "The two agreements we are signing do not completely put to rest this decades-old conflict. Everyone who has been involved with the agreements knows that there is much work still to be done."
The Conservation Alliance has twice funded California Trout for its work on restoring the Klamath River and recovering salmon. Chuck Bonham, CA Director for Trout Unlimited added, “We all recognize that we must work as partners with the agricultural community and private landowners to make fisheries recovery possible.  We want the fish welcomed home.”


The Conservation Alliance Gets A Shout-out In The Season

The Season combines the outdoors, adventure, conservation and how a few incredible people are making their way through the course of a single season in the Pacific Northwest.

In the most recent episode, released today, Jonaven Moore, a pro snowboarder, searches for a way to return to the roots of his sport. His story is inspiring to say the least and he shreds in some of the Northwest's most beautiful mountains, so take a moment and enjoy. Be sure to stay tuned until the very end because the Conservation Alliance gets a major shout-out as this episode wraps up! Thanks to Fitz Cahall, lead man of the The Dirtbag Diaries and one of the masterminds behind the Season, for supporting the Conservation Alliance's work!

And thanks to Conservation Alliance member company Outdoor Research for supporting this great project.

Dam Removal Restores A Free-Flowing Tuckasegee River in NC


After nearly a decade of negotiations and involvement by American Whitewater, Dillsboro Dam on the Tuckasegee River in North Carolina is finally being removed! February 4, 2010 saw the first steps of a multi-week process to remove the 100+ year old dam from blocking this great river from flowing freely.

American Whitewater, a Conservation Alliance grantee, is looking foward to celebrating the removal of Dillsboro Dam with the paddling community. Taking the dam out will provide a great river access area in Dillsboro and allow paddlers (and fish) to pass through the area for the first time in over a century. 

We would like to thank the many paddlers that have supported this river restoration initiative over the past nine years, including a special thanks to the Carolina Canoe Club and Western Carolina Paddlers. Conservation Alliance member company, KEEN, also supported this project. 

Dillsboro Dam removal with AW's Jeff Paine from Lunch Video Magazine on Vimeo.

Salmon Win On The Columbia-Snake, Judge Tells Federal Agencies To Comply With ESA


On Wednesday, U.S. District Court Judge James Redden, who is hearing the long-running legal challenge to the Columbia-Snake River Basin salmon plan, rejected the Obama administration's eleventh-hour bid to salvage the Bush-era plan.

In his letter, Redden said, "federal defendents must comply with the [Endangered Species Act]."

Redden has twice before rejected federal salmon plans for Columbia Basin salmon, but he has given the government multiple opportunities to correct the one currently before his court. The judge gave the administration until February 19 to decide whether it will take steps to issue an amended plan that considers all new and pertinent scientific informations and contains measures necessary to protect salmon and steelhead.

Salmon and fishing advocates, as well as the Nez Perce Tribe of Idaho, the Spokane Tribe of Washington, and the State of Oregon, are greatly encouraged by the judge's action.

"We sure hope they take him up on the idea to fix this plan, and we hope they take the opportunity to truly engage us and the other plaintiffs to find a long-term solution to this long-standing issue in the region," said Nicole Cordan, attorney for the group Save Our Wild Salmon, a grantee of the Conservation Alliance.

To learn more about Columbia-Snake River salmon, and to take action, visit:

PHOTO  © Brandon Cole

Canadian Conservation Win! British Columbia Government Bans Mining in the Flathead


Big conservation news came out of Canada this week as the British Columbia government announced a ban on oil and gas development in the Flathead River Basin. The Flathead River Basin is home to one of North America’s wildest valleys, with pristine waterways and diverse wildlife.

The British Columbia government is promising to partner with Montana to “sustain the environmental values … in a manner consistent with current forestry, recreation, guide outfitting and trapping uses.”

Located in the southeast corner of British Columbia, the Flathead River Basin adjoins the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Back in 2008 conservation groups petitioned the United Nations to investigate proposed mining and drilling projects in the headwaters of the Flathead River and the effect they would have on the area’s ecological health. This time, conservation efforts won over those of the energy industry, giving another breath of fresh air to our movement.

The Conservation Alliance funded the Sierra Club of BC for their Flathead Valley Campaign. Although this ban is an important win, the ultimate goal adds two additional pieces: establishing a new National Park and a Wildlife Management Area for the valley, ensuring that it has the same level of protection as its neighbor to the south, Waterton-Glacier International Park. We’re happy to have supported this effort!

Want to see just what we're working to protect? Check out the trailer to Flathead Wild, a film produced by Epicocity Project as they follow the International League of Conservation Photographers in a Rapid Assessment Visual Expedition documenting the area with compelling photography to support conservation efforts.

Flathead Wild Trailer from Epicocity Project on Vimeo.

Heaven In The High Desert

Oregon needs more wilderness, according to the Eugene Register-Guard and Senators Merkley and Wyden. And we couldn't agree more! Conservation Alliance grantee the Oregon Natural Desert Association has been working hard to secure the Horse Heaven and Cathedral Rock Wilderness, and now we're one step closer.

From the Eugene Register-Guard:

"The proposed Cathedral Rock and Horse Heaven federal wilderness areas make up for their lack of size with the uniqueness of Oregon’s incomparable high desert, with its basalt cliffs and rolling hills of juniper, sagebrush and bluebunch wheatgrass. And a horizon that drifts into eternity.

Oregon Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley have proposed adding to the state’s wilderness inventory 16,000 acres of high desert near the John Day River in Central Oregon. A land swap between private landholders and the federal Bureau of Land Management would clear the way for congressional approval of the two new wilderness areas…

For a state known for its forests, mountains and rivers, Oregon has a surprisingly small amount of land designated as wilderness…

Even with the addition of these and other proposed wilderness areas, Oregon still would lag behind other Western states in the percentage of land protected as federal wilderness. Oregon needs more wilderness, and the high desert is an excellent place to start filling that need."

This would be a huge victory for conservation and recreation in the Oregon high desert. To take action, please send letters of thanks and encouragement can be sent directly to:

Senator Jeff Merkley
One World Trade Center
121 SW Salmon Suite 1250, Portland, OR  97204
Tel: 503-326-3386
Fax: 503-326-2900 

Senator Ron Wyden
700 NE Multnomah Suite 450
Portland, OR  97232
Tel: 503-326-7525
Fax: 503-326-7528


The Season. Five Lives. A World of Possibility.


If you haven't already heard the buzz… Check out The Season.

Combining adventure, conservation and inspiring people, this cool new web television project followed five athletes through the course of a single season in the Pacific Northwest.

A veteran climber invents a new piece of gear. A pro snowboarder searches for a way to return to the roots of his sport. A boulderer returns from a series of injuries with new perspective. A family man goes to Whistler to test himself against mountain biking’s elite. A young sea kayaker with a troubled past sets out to reinvent his sport. From the creators of The Dirtbag Diaries and 49 Megawatt, make sure to check it out!

Shot entirely in HD, you can watch the 22-episode series for free. Every episode premieres once or twice a week on the Arc’teryx website, subscribe to The Season on iTunes.

Thanks to Conservation Alliance member company Outdoor Research for supporting this great project. And a big shout-out to the creators for promoting conservation and including The Conservation Alliance and The Access Fund!

Check out the First Episode right here!

Look For More Wilderness Protection In 2010


Key lawmakers say that they are likely to pass another sweeping package of wilderness, parks and other natural resources bills by the end of this year. This action would follow the passing of the unprecedented Ominibus Public Land Management Act last year that protected 3 million acres of land, and 1,000 miles of rivers throughout the US.

Every conservation provision included in the legislation started at the local level where grassroots organizations led the charge to build public support to protect a special wildland or waterway. The Conservation Alliance supported the local organizations that led the efforts behind 12 of the 16 Wilderness provisions included in the package, and funded the groups leading the efforts behind protecting the Snake River Headwaters, and closing the Wyoming Range to new oil and gas development.

In total, The Conservation Alliance contributed more than $700,000 to 10 different organizations and worked in close partnership with Outdoor Industry Association to demonstrate that the outdoor industry stood uniformly behind the provisions in this package.

When President Obama signed the Act into law, John Sterling, Executive Director of the Conservation Alliance said, "This is a major conservation victory that preserves wild places throughout the US forever. We did everything within the limits of our lean staff capacity and financial resources to ensure it crossed the finish line."

Here's hoping for another year of victory!


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