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The Conservation Alliance Releases 2015 Annual Report

The Conservation Alliance released our 2015 Annual Report this week, providing an overview of the organization’s accomplishments last year. During the year, we contributed a record $1.6 million to 43 conservation organizations throughout North America. The report also includes a summary of the 11 conservation victories Conservation Alliance grantees secured in 2015, protecting 1.1 million acres of land and 13 river miles, acquiring one climbing area, and removing two dams.

It is exciting to tally our results at the end of each year, and 2015 was productive on every front. Thanks to our member companies, we gave away a record amount to organizations that get the job done. Because of those organizations, we celebrate the protection of special wild places from New York to Oregon, and many places in between.

In addition to the funding success, The Conservation Alliance added 27 new members. Each member company pays annual dues into a central fund, and we contribute 100 percent of those dues to conservation organizations.

We continue to attract great companies, large and small, to our organization. We take this growth as a sign that brands value our model of companies working together to protect the wild places so important to their customers.

The Conservation Alliance also hosted six Backyard Collective stewardship projects, and five Wild Drinks gatherings. These events bring employees of member companies together with grantees for a day of field work, or for informational happy hours.

Through our Advocacy Program, The Conservation Alliance provided 17 opportunities for member companies to become directly engaged in the conservation work of grantees. Activities included training business leaders in conservation policy and meeting with Congressional and Obama Administration representatives to explain why conservation is important to outdoor businesses.

We plan to build on our success in 2015 to have an even better year in 2016.

Malheur Militants Are a Threat to America’s Public Lands

BLM Lands in Oregon. Photo: Jim Davis

Over the past month, many people have asked me whether the illegal takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon has an impact on conservation and outdoor recreation. The quick answer is “yes”. The militants are giving voice to the misguided — and unconstitutional — notion that our federal lands should be transferred to the states in which they lie. Our public lands are important for wildlife habitat, and are crucial “infrastructure” for hiking, backpacking, climbing, mountain biking, paddling, skiing, mountaineering, fishing, birding, and hunting. Federal management of these lands is not perfect, but it ensures at least two important things. First, that these lands will forever be held in trust for all Americans. And second, that they will be managed in a consistent way such that rules and regulations that impact the outdoor recreation experience in Oregon will be similar to that in Montana, for example. It’s easy to take these things for granted, but if the militants’ agenda were implemented, it would totally change our relationship to our public lands. (It’s worth noting that, as reported recently in The Oregonian, the militants’ demands “defy logic and law.”)

In the bigger picture, the situation at the Malheur Refuge invites us to ask what is the best use of America’s public lands. Outdoor recreation contributes $646 billion annually to the US economy, and public lands are a big part of that story. At the same time, countless studies demonstrate that protected public lands are an important economic driver for communities near those lands. My favorite of those studies is called West is Best, by Headwaters Economics. Long ago, people thought logging, mining, grazing, and oil and gas drilling was the best use of our public lands. Now, it’s clear that recreation and tourism is a much more lucrative and sustainable economic model. The small town of Oakridge, Oregon — once wholly dependent on logging — has successfully turned itself into a Mecca for mountain biking. Though mountain bike tourism accounts for five percent of the local economy, several business owners expect that number to grow over time. Meanwhile, logging on National Forests around Oakridge is likely to continue to decline. The militants on the Malheur Refuge are looking to the past, when stronger economies lie in a future in which public lands are preserved and managed for habitat and recreation.

Finally, the militants represent the lowest level of public engagement. Armed with firearms and loud voices, they are trying to bully their way to getting what they want. By contrast, The Conservation Alliance funds dozens of organizations who work hard, sometimes for years, following the rules and behaving with common decency to secure better management of our public lands. This work is not sexy and does not attract hordes of media, but it leads to lasting protection for the lands that the federal government manages for all of us. We’re proud to be associated with these organizations, and are confident they will remain standing strong long after the Malheur occupiers are in prison.

 

President Obama: Please Protect the Grand Canyon’s Watershed

Photo:  Pete McBride

At The Conservation Alliance Breakfast, over 250 people signed the postcard below asking President Obama to designate the Greater Grand Canyon Heritage National Monument.  In April 2016, The Conservation Alliance  Board of Directors and staff will hand deliver these postcards to the Obama Administration.

Show your support for the protection of the Grand Canyon’s Watershed!  Send an email with the subject line “Protect the Grand Canyon” to Josie (at) conservationalliance.com and we’ll write your information on a postcard and deliver it for you.

 

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