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Take Action Tuesday: Hermosa Creek Watershed Protection Act Introduced

Photo: Hermosa Creek, Wilderness Support Center

On Thursday, April 25, The Hermosa Creek Watershed Protection Act was introduced by Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO), with Senator Mark Udall (D-CO) as cosponsor; and by Congressman Scott Tipton (R-CO3) in the House.  This was a great day for conservation and strategic community involvement.  This achievement was made possible in part by the Conservation Alliance grantees, Wilderness Support Center and International Mountain Bicycling Association

  • When passed, the Hermosa Creek Watershed Protection Act will designate a 108,000 acre Hermosa Creek Watershed Protection Area; 38,000 acres of this will become the Hermosa Creek Wilderness.  The rest of the watershed will have a variety of designated protections (no new roads, no commercial logging, a mineral withdrawal, protection of water quality in Hermosa Creek, etc.).  Additionally, the bill prohibits oil and gas development in four areas surrounding Durango:  Animas Mountain, Perins Peak, Horse Gulch, and Ridges Basin.
  • The legislation will protect important trails in the area, including Hermosa Creek Trail, Coral Draw, Colorado Trail, Jones and Dutch Creek, Elbert Creek, Little Elk Creek, Goulding Creek and the Pinkerton-Flagstaff trails while keeping them open to mountain biking, a major component of the recreation economy in Colorado's La Plata County.
  • The legislation is based directly on the work and recommendations of the Hermosa Creek Workgroup, a collaborative, community-based group formed to find agreement between a wide array of stakeholders on how best to manage the Hermosa watershed.  The Workgroup met for nearly three years, and reached consensus on recommendations that became the basis for Sen. Bennet's and Rep. Tipton's legislation.
  • The designations will protect critical wildlife habitat for such iconic wildlife species as Canadian lynx, elk, and the native Colorado Cutthroat Trout, as well as some of the most significant old-growth Ponderosa Pine stands in the state.  A myriad of recreational opportunities will be preserved as well, including hiking, mountains biking, horse packing, fishing, and camping.  Significantly, Hermosa Creek is a major contributor of clean water to the City of Durango.
  • The legislation is supported by both relevant counties, La Plata and San Juan, the City of Durango, and over 100 local businesses; as well as sportsmen groups, mountain bikers, commercial outfitters, water developers, motorized recreationists, and other stakeholders.

 "We are lucky in Colorado to be able to enjoy many of the country's most beautiful landscapes in our backyards," said Bennet in a press release issued by his office. "The Hermosa Creek Watershed represents some of the best Colorado has to offer. This bill will protect this land for our outdoor recreation economy and for future generations of Coloradans and Americans to enjoy. It is the result of a local effort that took into account the varied interests of the community, and that cooperation helped us put together a strong bill with the community's input."

Aaron Clark, IMBA's Public Lands Initiative Director, said, "Protected trail systems in communities all over the country provide a reliable source of revenue for their host communities. The Hermosa Creek Trail is a world-class recreation asset that deserves permanent protection. In Colorado, well-managed recreation assets on public lands act as a powerful multiplier for local economies, attracting visitors and businesses of all types. This bill is a great example of land protection for the 21st century."

Click here to learn more about the bill and Hermosa Creek.
To see a MAP of the Hermosa Creek Watershed Protection Act, click here.

Favorites on Friday: Conservation Alliance Bay Area Tour

Each Spring, we Conservation Alliance staffers visit member companies to make presentations to employees about our work, and to update them on good news from the previous year. I just returned from a week in the San Francisco Bay Area where I visited Mountain Hardwear, The North Face, CamelBak, Marmot, Clif Bar, and Juniper Ridge. Visiting the Bay Area always reminds me how much outdoor industry history is there. On this trip, I was encouraged to see our members in the area thriving.

My trip started with a visit to the Mountain Hardwear offices in a re-developed Ford assembly plant in Richmond. It is great to see one our members bringing new life to an old industrial area. I spoke to a roomful of employees, and my presentation was followed by an update on Mountain Hardwear's sustainability efforts by Guru Khalsa, the company's corporate responsibility manager.

TNF employees admire the company's garden and parking lot solar panels.

Next stop was a visit to The North Face's  beautiful new campus in Alameda, complete with a sea of solar panels, sparkling water on tap, and a TNF history timeline that includes a photo of the Grateful Dead playing at the first TNF store opening in 1966. Talk about history! I was impressed to learn how much thought and planning went into the new campus. The best parking spaces are reserved for electric vehicles, and have electric charging stations.

TNF's timeline proudly displays the founding of The Conservation Alliance in 1989.

I then headed to the North Bay to visit CamelBak and Marmot. CamelBak's offices sit next to a stunning wetland wildlife refuge in Petaluma. It was great to connect with Alliance board members Sally McCoy and Jason Frame, and to give a lunchtime talk to a good portion of the CamelBak team.

Marmot just moved into larger new offices near Santa Rosa. I made my presentation in their nice new cafe, which was full of roughly 60 Marmot employees. It was cool to learn that Marmot fills all of its high-end down sleeping bags onsite to ensure quality and consistency.

        Marmot's shiny new offices.

The Final day of my trip started at Clif Bar. Clif moved into a vibrant new space in Emeryville in 2010. The place oozes Clif culture, with bikes everywhere, an onsite gym, climbing wall, and tasty snacks in every conference room. My presentation there was part of their weekly all-company meeting, which happened to land near Earth Day. So, the meeting featured may updates on the good work Clif Bar is doing for the planet.

 

For my last stop, I was excited a to visit Juniper Ridge, a company that, in their words: "Goes to the mountains, harvests wild plants, and distills them into natural fragrances." Juniper Ridge makes the most wonderful natural trail soap, tea, cologne, and other awesome smelling stuff. When I walked into the warehouse, they were loading a pile of black sage — which they'd collected from a ranch near Monterey — into a large still to turn into a very small amount of fragrance.

Juniper Ridge team works on some new fragrance.

These folks are connected to their product in a way I have never seen in our industry. In all, the trip made me reflect on the diversity of our membership, and it made me appreciate that these varied companies come together around the common goal of protecting our last wild places.

The Conservation Alliance Announces 2013 Outstanding Partnership Awards

Photo: Megan Baker

Mountain Equipment Co-OpOutdoor Gear Exchange, and Patagonia have been selected as the winners of The Conservation Alliance Outstanding Partnership Award for 2013. The award recognizes member companies who go above and beyond in building relationships with Conservation Alliance grantees.

All Conservation Alliance grantees from the past two years were invited to nominate member companies for recognition. Five grantees nominated seven different member companies. Each nomination described how the company engaged in a meaningful partnership to help the organization succeed in its conservation work.

"The Outstanding Partnership Award brings to light the commitment our member have for the work of our grantees," said John Sterling, Executive Director of The Conservation Alliance. "We are thrilled to celebrate the direct interaction between our members and the conservation groups in their communities. By telling their stories, we hope to encourage more of these partnerships."

Grantee Canadian Parks & Wilderness nominated Mountain Equipment Co-Op for a partnership that has spanned more than 20 years and includes annual grants, year-round advertising space in MEC stores, and a joint social marketing venture called "The Big Wild."

"MEC is CPAWS' most important corporate partner," said Ellen Adelberg, Director of Communications and Marketing, CPAWS. "MEC's contributions to CPAWS now exceed $1 million and we benefit tremendously from MEC staff's generous sharing of expertise in areas such as promotion and customer relations."

Outdoor Gear Exchange, a retailer based in Burlington, VT was nominated by grantee Vermont Land Trust for their role in supporting the successful Bolton Valley Conservation Campaign, which helped to secure the funding needed to purchase and conserve 1,100 acres of Bolton Valley Nordic and Backcountry land. Later this spring, the parcel will be transferred to the State of Vermont as an addition to the Mount Mansfield State Forest.

"When we announced our decision to work with a group of community volunteers to protect the Bolton Valley property, the response from the leadership team at Outdoor Gear Exchange was immediate," said VLT Executive Director Elise Annes. "Co-owners Marc Sherman and Mike Donohue not only nominated VLT for Conservation Alliance grants, but also they determined that nearly every event and program Gear Exchange did with the community over the next seven months would benefit or promote the Bolton Valley Conservation Campaign in some way."

Patagonia, Inc., a founding Conservation Alliance member, was nominated by grantee Los Padres Forest Watch. Since LPFW's inception in 2004, Patagonia has been an active partner by: providing grants; holding fundraising events; lending work space; and donating Patagonia employee volunteer hours for restoration projects.
 
"Hands down, Patagonia has been the most supportive and influential company in the development of our organization," said LPFW Executive Director Jeff Kuyper. "As a direct result of Patagonia's support, we've grown into a powerful and effective organization with three full-time staff and a great list of accomplishments for our local forest. We wouldn't be where we are today without their stellar support – our victories are their victories and we count everyone at Patagonia among our closest supporters and friends."
 
In addition to the three winners, nominees included: Columbia Sportswear; Eastern Mountain Sports; prAna; and The Timberland Company. Each nomination described a story of deep involvement between the company and the grantee. The winners were chosen by The Conservation Alliance Outreach Committee.

"The Outreach Committee had a difficult task before them. Determining the winners of this award was not easy, as each and every nomination was incredibly compelling," said Sterling.

Beginning on Friday, May 10, The Conservation Alliance will profile an Outstanding Partnership story on the Alliance blog (www.conservationalliance.com/blog). The Outstanding Partnership Award is an annual initiative.
 

Bay Area Member Companies Unite For a Successful Backyard Collective in Tilden

Over 100 volunteers and Trail Crew Leaders arrived at Big Leaf Park prior to 9am ready to work. It was our second Backyard Collective of the 2013 season and the spirit of cooperation extended to the weather. Clear blue skies and a shining sun greeted our guests from Mountain HardwearCamelBakMarmotClif BarThe North FaceThe Forest GroupREI and Deckers.

 Big Leaf Picnic Area

Our partners at East Bay Regional Parks worked together with the Volunteers for Outdoor California to provide our volunteers with tools, training and information to share about the day’s work plan.

There were trails to build, invasive species to be removed and general improvements needed to preserve this gem so beloved by Bay Area residents. After a morning welcome with remarks by The Conservation Alliance Board Outgoing President and CamelBak CEO Sally McCoy, volunteers separated into eight work groups to work cross-organizationally throughout the Tilden area.

With smiles, enthusiasm, ample Clif Bars and full water bottles, our volunteers took to the trails with tools of the trade setting off to make improvements.

 

In our morning work session, Backyard Collective Volunteers accomplished the following:

  •  Improved 1 mile of trail through berm removal/repair and cleared corridors
  • Constructed 6 check dams
  • Installed 7 steps
  • Built or improved 14 drain dips
  • Removed 2500 square feet of broom
  • Removed 1000 square feet of euphorbia

 

 

 

Everyone returned to Big Leaf to find Ebbetts Good To Go Food Cart ready to serve lunch and representatives from American River ConservancyBay Area Open Space CouncilBay Area Ridge Trail and Volunteers for Outdoor California representing at tables.

 

 

We closed the day with a raffle that included donated items from many of the businesses represented. The generous spirit of our attendees was on display from the day’s beginning until its finish during the raffle as winners paid their gifts forward.

 

It is a wonderful privilege to collaborate with our member companies, grantees and other non-profit partners in planning these events. The Bay Area Backyard Collective will remain a fond memory due to the kindness and consideration demonstrated by every one of our participants and partners.

 

For additional images, please visit our Facebook album. *Special thanks to Ryan Mayo for all of his help with event documentation.

 

Colorado River Named #1 Most Endangered River In The Nation

 
For more than two decades American Rivers has released its annual list of America’s Most Endangered Rivers. American Rivers released the 2013 list today, and the river at the top—the most endangered river in the nation—is the mighty Colorado.
 
The Colorado River is a lifeline in the desert, its water sustaining tens of millions of people in seven states, as well as endangered fish and wildlife. Thirty million people in the Southwest depend on water from the Colorado River for their water and food. Not to mention the millions more who flock to the river to boat and raft and those who stand in awe atop the Grand Canyon to witness the breathtaking formations formed by this magnificent and powerful river.
 
As Americans we are lucky to have this river in our proverbial backyard. But our demands on the river’s water now far exceed its supply, leaving the river so over-tapped that it no longer flows to the sea. A century of water management policies and practices promoting wasteful water use have put the river at a critical crossroads. 
Today, American Rivers is naming the Colorado River the #1 Most Endangered River in the country because of outdated water management. The Colorado River faces critical decisions this year, along with another summer of drought. The river is also emblematic of many of the water supply challenges—and opportunities—facing rivers and communities nationwide.
To address ongoing drought and increasing demand for water, and to put the Colorado River on a path to recovery, American Rivers and its partners are calling on Congress and the Obama Administration to help put the basin on a path to recovery. They’re urging Congress to provide funding to build a future that includes healthy rivers, state-of-the-art water conservation for cities and agriculture, and water sharing mechanisms that allow communities to adapt to warmer temperatures and more erratic precipitation.
Rivers are remarkably resilient. Time and again we have proven that, when we allow them to, rivers can restore themselves—and continue to benefit our communities in the process. The America’s Most Endangered Rivers report has a track record of success. Rivers listed in the past, like Wyoming’s Hoback River and Washington’s White Salmon and Elwha rivers, have been saved. With your help, we can turn the Colorado River into a success story, too. We can take the first step today.
We urge you to take action to save the Colorado River today. And share your action with your friends online and on the ground. Together we can save the Colorado River.
Watch filmmaker Pete McBride’s new video about the Colorado River by clicking here.
 

Favorites on Friday: Sally Jewell Gets the Job

Guest Post by Tom Flynn, Outdoor Alliance

On Wednesday,  Sally Jewell was confirmed by the U.S. Senate as the next Secretary of the Interior. After all the speculation and the grueling confirmation hearing, it ended with more of a whimper than a bang. Wedged in between continuous speeches about gun control, Senators Wyden and Murkowski endorsed Ms. Jewell for the job, followed by Washington Senators Murray and Cantwell. All the statements were supportive, but not new – one Senator even trotted out the old joke about Ms. Jewell having to fill the large cowboy boots of out-going Secretary Ken Salazar. The final vote was 87 to 11. Now that she is confirmed, Secretary Jewell can get to work managing all the divergent aspects of our public lands. With her personal and professional commitment to outdoor recreation, this is good news for all of us.

Watch Jewell's confirmation hearing openning remarks here.

 

Watch President Obama's nomination of Sally Jewell here

Tom tracks policy related to conservation and recreation for the Outdoor Alliance. He summarizes the week's top outdoor policy related headlines on Fridays. For this week's complete installment, click here. For questions, comments, email Tom at tom@outdooralliance.net. 

Take Action Tuesday: Protect Alaska’s White Mountains

White Mountains Recreation Area Photo: Pete Dronker

Conservation Alliance Grantee, Northern Alaska Environmental Center, is working to secure permanent protection for Arctic wildlands north of Fairbanks spanning the White Mountains National Recreation Area and Yukon Flats National Wildlife Refuge, especially White-Crazy Mountains Wilderness Study Area.  

The White Mountains National Recreation Area is used by over 35,000 people who hike, float, ski, bike, snowshoe in our backyard wilderness north of Fairbanks.  The Bureau of Land Management is considering opening this area to hardrock and placer gold dredging across 160,000 acres including 250 miles of headwaters tributaries flowing into Beaver Creek Wild River that would harm the wilderness character of summer and winter trails and visitor experience of campgrounds and cabins. 

This area of craggy limestone peaks and sweeping tundra provides important caribou calving and sheep lambing habitats proposed to be protected in the White Mountains and Steese Areas of Critical Environmental Concern. 

Please lend your voice to the White Mountains Wildlands Campaign by signing onto this online petition TODAY!

CLICK HERE to Sign the petition!

By signing on, you are urging the BLM to continue managing the White Mountains for Recreation, not mining!  Please use the additional comments field to indicate that you are part of the Outdoor Industry and a Recreation User!

To learn more about the Northern Alaska Environmental Center click here: www.northern.org

Favorites on Friday: Call to Action from Access Fund

Call to Action: Volunteers needed to help protect the Holy Boulders – Adopt a Crag April 13th 

Access Fund, in conjunction with the Illinois Climbers Association and Southern Illinois University (SIU) would like you to join us at the Holy Boulders for an Adopt a Crag on April 13th, 2013.

Visit SIU Base Camp Outdoor Adventure's facebook event page to learn more, RSVP, and help spread the word.

Location: Tripps Lane, Pomona, IL

Schedule:

  • 9 a.m. – 9:30 a.m. – Registration, coffee, etc.
  • 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.: Holy Boulders Stewardship Projects
  • 6 p.m. – Climbing Community Social
  • Camping is permitted off Tripps Lane – (Friday and Saturday only)

With a narrow window of opportunity, the Access Fund temporarily purchased the Holy Boulders to save this incredible area from indefinite closure under new ownership in 2012. Now we need your help to raise $185,000 to secure permanent ownership of Holy Boulders and transfer it to a long-term owner that will keep it open to climbing access for future generations. We owe a big thanks to the Conservation Alliance for their significant support of $40,000!

To learn more about the project and make a donation, visit www.accessfund.org/holyboulders. We hope to see you at the Holy Boulders this Saturday, April 13th! 

Take Action Tuesday: Float the Yampa River with Western Rivers Conservancy and Learn More About The Cross Mountain Campaign

The Conservation Alliance has funded Western River Conservancy for a number of projects, including the successful Murtha Ranch Acquisition and John Day River Campaign, protecting 16 river miles and 16,015 acres of wildlands; now known as Cottonwood Canyon State Park, planned to open Fall 2013.

Most recently, the Alliance awarded WRC a grant in the amount of $35,000 for the Yampa River-Cross Mountain Acquisition Campaign in northwestern Colorado. This effort will permanently protect 920 acres of riverlands and establish public ownership of the only land‐based access point to the fabled whitewater and hunting opportunities of Cross Mountain Canyon.  

An opportunity to learn more: 

Western Rivers Conservancy is hosting an exciting, four-day, whitewater float trip through Dinosaur National Monument on Colorado's spectacular Yampa River. In addition to having a great time on one of the most coveted river trips in the western United States, you will have the opportunity to join a naturalist and WRC's Jim Cox and Josh Kling for a pre-float tour of Gumdrop Ranch at Cross Mountain Canyon. 

Trip dates are May 30 through June 4, 2013. The itinerary will include:

  • Thursday, May 30: Gather for dinner and a good night's sleep in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. Lodging at Hotel Bristol; dinner at Cottonwood Grill.
  • Friday, May 31: Breakfast in Steamboat. Drive out to Gumdrop Ranch for a tour of the property. In the evening we'll join our experienced guides from Adventure Bound River Expeditions for dinner and camping at our put-in point at Deer Lodge.
  • June 1 through June 4: Float the Yampa through Dinosaur National Monument, from Deer Lodge to Split Mountain.
  • June 4: Afternoon drive back to Steamboat for dinner and a good night's sleep. Lodging at Hotel Bristol; dinner at Mahogany Ridge Brewery and Grill.

The cost is $2,000 per person and includes four days of rafting, pre- and post-float lodging and all meals (including excellent wine and Sierra Nevada ales). Airfare and guide tips are not included. If you are interested in joining WRC on this exciting adventure please contact Jim Cox ASAP at 503-241-0151 or by email at jcox@westernrivers.org. 

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