Conservation Alliance Grantees Deliver Eight Victories

Mojave Trails National Monument, CA Photo Credit: John Dittli

In April 2015, The Conservation Alliance invested $800,000 in grassroots conservation organizations. Each grant went to a project working to secure permanent protection for a specific threatened wild place.

On April 1, we received 24 final reports from organizations funded in April, 2015, and 20 interim reports from organizations funded in October, 2015.  These reports play a key role in helping us determine the return on our investment. Conservation Alliance grantees funded in the last 12 months reported eight conservation victories, permanently protecting 2,269,892 acres, four river miles and one climbing area.

Following is a summary of the progress our grantees have made with our funding. Download the final report summaries and notable interim report summaries here.

Gold Butte National Monument Campaign Takes a Big Step


By Shevawn Von Tobel, Outreach and Communications Manager at Friends of Nevada Wilderness

The southern Nevada campaign to gain permanent protection for Nevada’s piece of the Grand Canyon, Gold Butte, hit an important milestone last month. Nevada’s Gold Butte champion, Senator Harry Reid, made an impressive speech on the Senate floor calling on President Obama to declare Gold Butte as a National Monument. The Senator also pointed out the extensive damage that has been occurring in the area such as graffiti of petroglyphs, destruction of Joshua trees, and construction of illegal developments and ended his speech with the poignant quote, “When we preserve our lands, we preserve America.”

Senator Harry Reid also pointed to the tremendous impacts protected public lands have on local and state economies. He highlighted a recent study done by the Small Business Majority which looked at ten of the twenty-two National Monuments President Obama has designated. The ten monuments studied in the report have a total economic impact of $156 million per year, drive approximately $58 million in labor income per year, and support approximately 1,820 jobs annually.  It is no wonder then that more and more local businesses in southern Nevada are also calling on President Obama for protection of Gold Butte – they understand that protecting Nevada’s public lands means protecting Nevada’s economy.

Senator Reid has made big conservation gains in his thirty years in office – designating 69 wilderness areas (3.4 million acres), three National Conservation Areas, one National Park, and, his most recent achievement, Basin and Range National Monument. The Gold Butte National Monument will make for a valuable addition to the Senator’s conservation legacy. This new chapter of the Gold Butte campaign would not be possible without the tremendous support of the Conservation Alliance and its outdoor business members. We’d like to especially thank Conservation Alliance member, KEEN Footwear, for amplifying the Gold Butte message to a national level through their innovative Live Monumental campaign.

Conserving a Hidden Gem in Montana’s Backcountry


By Joel Webster, Western lands director for the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership.  Photo Credit: Mark Good

Why a national coalition of hunting and fishing groups is calling for use of a new conservation tool to keep backcountry public lands intact and undeveloped.

Thousands of years ago, the Missouri River in Montana ran far north of where it lies today. As the ice ages ended, the river took a new course below the Bear Paw Mountains, cutting a wide channel through the fine clay soils of the plains. Rain and snow have since carved the earth into a vast and twisted maze of coulees and canyons, some of them hundreds of feet deep, marked by cliffs of yellow sandstone, weathered buttes, steep slopes of scree rock, and forests of ponderosa pine.

The Breaks were one of the last places to be settled in the West. Much of the land went unclaimed. A lot more was abandoned after the homestead years, when fierce winters and seemingly endless droughts forced even some of the toughest families to leave.

Today, most of the Missouri Breaks is public land in the care of the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. It is known by wildlife enthusiasts as some of the world’s most unique and productive country for elk, mule deer, and bighorn sheep. The river is popular for multi-day float trips and the almost never-ending canyons are great for camping, hiking, and exploring. Many of us are accustomed to going up into the mountains to find solitude and adventure, but in the Breaks, the mountains head downhill, eventually leading to the big river itself.

Lands on the southern end of the Missouri breaks—not far from where the Missouri and Musselshell Rivers meet—are currently being evaluated by the BLM, and what they find will shape long-term future management of these areas. In February 2014, the BLM formally began the process of revising the Lewistown Field Office Resource Management Plan to guide use of its resources for the next two decades.

And this planning process represents a rare and critical opportunity to protect our last remaining undeveloped lands from fragmentation and development.

These are some of the most unique backcountry lands found anywhere, and they will remain vulnerable to fragmentation and development unless safeguarded through the land-use plan. That’s why the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership (TRCP)—a national coalition of 46 hunting and fishing conservation organizations—is leading a public outreach campaign to convince the BLM to safeguard the best backcountry lands on the southern side of the Breaks.

The TRCP and its allies are advocating for a meaningful new conservation tool called Backcountry Conservation Areas (BCAs). Through the BCA approach, specific areas important for wildlife habitat and dispersed recreation would be safeguarded from fragmentation and development through the revised land-use plan. In essence, it would keep backcountry BLM lands just the way they are.

In 2014, the TRCP worked closely with the diverse group of people who have a stake in public lands management to develop a proposal identifying 230,000 acres of backcountry lands worthy of conservation. Six hunting and fishing groups, plus 800 individuals, a local rancher, and other stakeholders, have expressed support for this proposal. Outdoor recreation groups and businesses have also been strong supporters of the BCA management approach.

Right now, the BLM is making final touches to its draft resource management plan, and we expect this plan to be issued to the public later this year. But your opportunity to help safeguard one of the most unique and scenic landscapes in North America is now. Contact the Lewistown BLM and urge them conserve the best backcountry in the Missouri River Breaks by adopting backcountry conservation areas in the Lewistown resource management plan. Your days of hunting, fishing, or spending time with family on central Montana’s public lands depend on it.

Photo: Mark Good

2016 Outstanding Partnership Awards

atagonia award 2

Photo:  A resupply to Dave and Amy Freeman’s “A Year in the Wilderness” led by representatives from Patagonia Chicago and St. Paul.

We’re pleased to announce Ibex Outdoor Clothing, Patagonia, and KEEN as the winners of the Outstanding Partnership Award for 2016. The award recognizes member companies that go above and beyond in building relationships with Conservation Alliance grantees.

All Conservation Alliance grantees from the past three funding cycles were invited to nominate member companies for recognition. Each nomination described how the company engaged in a meaningful partnership to help the organization succeed in its conservation work.

The Trust for Public Land nominated Ibex Outdoor Clothing for a partnership that has spanned many years and includes board service, event hosting, in-kind donations, and public and outspoken support of full funding of the Land and Water Conservation Fund.

“Over the past two years, Ibex Outdoor Clothing has been an outstanding partner and friend to The Trust for Public Land,” says Michael Giammusso, Director of Institutional Giving, The Trust for Public Land. “Our relationship with Ibex began in Vermont, and has developed into an invaluable connection.”

Portland, Oregon-based KEEN was nominated by Oregon Natural Desert Association (ONDA) for an unprecedented organizational commitment.

“It would be difficult to imagine a company making a stronger commitment to conservation than Keen has over the last year,” said Dan Morse, Conservation Director, ONDA. “Above and beyond the company’s ingrained conservation ethic and ongoing support for organizations like ONDA, this year KEEN upped the ante for conservation across the country with its Live Monumental campaign. For the ONDA and the Owyhee Coalition this effort brought critical attention and support to the campaign to permanently protect the Owyhee Canyonlands.”

Patagonia was nominated by two grantees, Northeastern Minnesotans for Wilderness and Raincoast Conservation Foundation, for its financial support and awareness raising efforts to garner public support to protect these special places.

“We are incredibly grateful for the support from Patagonia that is helping us reach and inspire hundreds of thousands of people to protect the Boundary Waters and has the attention of national leaders who can take action this year to protect this great canoe country wilderness,” said Samantha Chadwick of the Northeastern Minnesotans for Wilderness.

“Patagonia gets behind ideas that matter and makes change happen,” said Ross Dixon of Raincoast Conservation Foundation. “We hold up this collaboration as an outstanding example of what is possible when the business community lends not only resources, but their skills, their people and their passion to protect wild places for habitat and the recreational values that we all share.”

The Outstanding Partnership Award is an annual initiative. Previous winners of the award include: Outdoor Gear Exchange, prAna, Mountain Equipment Co-op, The Forest Group, Eagles Nest Outfitters, Filson, Black Diamond, Juniper Ridge, and Footzone of Bend.

The Conservation Alliance Storms Washington, DC

Kelly Neel (REI), Josie Norris (The Conservation Alliance), Senator Maria Cantwell (WA), Thomas O’Keefe (American Whitewater), Katherine Hollis (The Mountaineers) and Eric Hayes (Superfeet)

The Conservation Alliance teamed up with Outdoor Industry Association and Outdoor Alliance to bring more than 100 outdoor business and recreation leaders to Washington, DC to meet with Congressional offices and Obama Administration representatives about the importance of protecting public lands for their recreation and habitat values. The Conservation Alliance’s group totaled 30 people, including the board of directors and additional representatives from member companies.

The group spent a full day learning about conservation policy from DC-based experts and from our grantees working to protect specific places. The group received an update on the political lay-of-the-land, and what conservation initiatives might succeed with Congress and the Obama Administration. The trainings then shifted to a focus on specific conservation issues, including: the Land and Water Conservation Fund; National Monuments; and Wilderness legislation. Because it is the final year of the Obama Administration, we scheduled extra time to discuss proposed National Monuments that the President might designate before he leaves office. That conversation focused on four places: Bears Ears (Utah); Grand Canyon Watershed (Arizona); Owyhee Canyonlands (Oregon); and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (Alaska).

The following day, we broke the large group into smaller lobby teams, which met with Congressional and Obama Administration offices to demonstrate business support for conservation that benefits recreation. Together, the teams completed 30 meetings in one day. Each of the teams reported that their meetings went well, and that they sensed general enthusiasm for conservation, particularly within the Obama Administration. Even with a dysfunctional Congress, we saw reasons to be hopeful. The week before we arrived, the Senate held a hearing for three bills that together would protect more nearly 500,000 acres of Wilderness and 1,000 river miles in Washington, Oregon, and California. Stay tuned!

We coordinated our DC effort with OIA and Outdoor Alliance, co-hosting social events, and integrating each organizations into joint lobby teams. The result was a critical mass of outdoor business and recreation voices in town for a few days. Aside from the trainings and lobby meetings, it was great to see so many outdoor industry leaders in, looking sharp — and sometimes uncomfortable — in fancy clothes.

We are already looking forward to our 2017 trip, which will involve meetings with a brand new Presidential administration, and several new faces in Congress. The work of securing protection for our federal lands requires regular engagement with our elected officials, and it’s great to see our industry stepping up to advocate for conservation and recreation.

Ambassador Spotlight: George Thoma, Athlete Sponsorship Coordinator at Clif Bar & Company

GT ERide

Conservation Alliance Ambassadors are key influencers and leaders in the outdoor industry, and they serve as a conduit for spreading the word about Conservation Alliance programs and grantee activities within their respective companies.  They volunteer their time, going above and beyond the duties of their full-time jobs at member companies.  Our ambassadors are passionate outdoor enthusiasts, and exceptional people. Today, we’d like you to meet George Thoma, Athlete Sponsorship Coordinator at Clif Bar & Company. 

What made you want to be an Ambassador for The Conservation Alliance?

I wanted to become a Conservation Alliance ambassador to help educate Clif Bar and Company employees on all the great work the Alliance does. Through my position in sports marketing, I am exposed to a lot of their impact through my professional relationships, but not everyone at the company has as much visibility. It is really satisfying for me to share the successes of The Conservation Alliance with people in all departments of the company.

What areas of conservation are you most passionate about?

I am most passionate about preserving open space from development or being compromised by resource extractions. I feel very privileged to have grown up with a solid base of outdoor activities and I want those opportunities to remain viable for my kids and all future generations.

Favorite outdoor activity?

My favorite outdoor activity is cycling. Any bike, any place, any bike ride is a good ride. Whenever I can, I like to link up roads and trails to make for a nice long day in the saddle exploring the wild areas just outside of the city.

Favorite Wilderness or National Park?

Being a Clif Bar ambassador for The Conservation Alliance has really allowed me to combine two of my biggest passions – the outdoors and endurance sports. As such, my favorite Wilderness and Parks are tied to athletic endeavors there. I have a strong connection to Zion National Park after a 14 hour run/hike from one end of the park to the other. I also fell in love with the Sawtooth Mountains in Idaho after a weeklong mountain bike trip to the area. Those two places have lots of great memories not just because of their uniqueness and beauty, but because of the great adventures I had.

Most eye opening experience for the need of conservation.

I don’t have one specific galvanizing moment, but I volunteer at my daughter’s school as a garden docent, and seeing the kids interact with the land has been a powerful experience. It has shown me how important a connection to nature is for understanding ourselves and the impact we have on the greater system surrounding us. I hope, through the work of The Conservation Alliance, we can continue to protect precious outdoor monuments so they may be ready for the kids of today to explore once they move past the school yard garden.

End Quote: Words of motivation to get others inspired.

Do what you can and be proud to know you are making a difference. We all support conservation in many different personal ways, and they are all valuable. Most of all, get outside and visit some of these places we are all working to save, then try to imagine a world without them.

Action Alert: Protect the Kalmiopsis Rivers from Nickel Strip Mining

Baldface Emerald Stretch - Hi-Res

By Michael Dotson, Director at KS Wild

The Kalmiopsis region in southwest Oregon is a landscape like none other. It’s red rocks and emerald waters are world-renowned to whitewater enthusiasts. Wild and Scenic Rivers like the Smith, Illinois, and Chetco carve their way from the Siskiyou range, through ancient forests of redwoods and cedars on their way to the coast. It is also home to the most botanically diverse wildlands in all of Oregon.

Last summer, the Bureau of Land Management and US Forest Service took steps to protect this region from the imminent threat of nickel strip mining. A foreign mining company has proposed to strip mine (or the equivalent of mountain top removal) for nickel in the headwaters of the North Fork Smith River and Hunter Creek. A second company is proposing to mine for nickel in the headwaters of the Wild and Scenic Illinois River – a key salmon and steelhead fishery and tributary of the Wild Rogue River.

The US Forest Service has recently completed an Environmental Analysis to extend short-term protections for 100,000 acres of public forests and wild rivers in these mostly pristine watersheds. With short-term protections, a coalition of conservation advocates is also working to secure permanent protection via the Southwest Oregon Watershed and Salmon Protection Act.

What’s at stake? Clean water for communities downstream, like Crescent City and Cave Junction, as well as some of the most viable wild salmon and steelhead runs left on the Pacific Coast.

Please sign on to the petition to protect the wild rivers of the Kalmiopsis region before May 27th. To learn more about conservation efforts in the Kalmiopsis, visit

Save the Date! The Conservation Alliance Breakfast with Florian Schulz

Beaufort Sea, Alaska. Photo: Florian Schulz

The Conservation Alliance Breakfast
Thursday, August 4, 7-9 AM
The Marriott, Salons F-I, Salt Lake City

The Wild Edge: Freedom to Roam the Pacific Coast

A Presentation by Photographer Florian Schulz

Florian Schulz is a conservation photographer and advocate for the preservation of wild habitat. Florian immerses himself in an environment for several weeks at a time, studying wildlife behavior and interaction. His multi-media presentation weaves stories and images from his new book The Wild Edge, which reveals the great Pacific seam of North America. From the Baja peninsula through the coves and breaks of California and the bays and inlets of the Pacific Northwest, to the deep forests of British Columbia and the icy realm of polar bears in the Beaufort Sea of Alaska, the west coast of North America provides a life-sustaining corridor of great energy. Florian’s photographs have appeared in international publications, including National Geographic, BBC Wildlife, and GEO. The Conservation Alliance Breakfast is open to the public, so please bring a friend.

Arrive tired, leave inspired!

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