A Tale of Two Maps: It’s Time to #ProtectBearsEarsNow

Eighty years ago, the US Department of the Interior produced a map for a proposed Escalante National Monument that would protect millions of acres of public land in Southern Utah. That vintage map has a lot in common with a more recent map that illustrates the many outdoor recreation opportunities on the proposed Bears Ears National Monument. These two maps demonstrate that the idea of protecting lands in Southern Utah is nothing new. The current proposal for the Bears Ears would protect nearly two million acres of land, preserving the area’s rich archaeological history and many outdoor recreation amenities. The maps are a good reminder that conservation can take a long time, but that good ideas generally win the day in the end. We hope that the vision DOI forwarded in 1936 finds final success in 2016.

The Conservation Alliance Board Calls on the President and Congress to Protect Public Land

Kirsten Blackburn, John Sterling, Adam Cramer, Hans Cole, Linda Balfour

The Conservation Alliance made a trip to Washington, DC last week to push Congress and the Obama Administration for new land and water protections that benefit outdoor recreation. We focused our efforts on securing new national monuments from the President, and on a package of public lands bills from the Congress. Our delegation included representatives from Patagonia, KEEN, Superfeet, REI, Outdoor Industry Association, and Outdoor Alliance.

As we near the end of President Obama’s final term, it is important that we do everything possible to secure new national monument designations. The Conservation Alliance has funded campaigns to protect the Bears Ears in Utah, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska, the Grand Canyon Watershed in Arizona, Gold Butte in Nevada, the Owyhee Canyonlands in Oregon, and Birthplace of Rivers in West Virginia. We also endorse expanding the existing Cascade-Siskiyou and California Coast National Monuments in Oregon and California. In meetings with Obama Administration representatives, we delivered a letter signed by 68 member companies supporting the Bears Ears proposal.  Read the complete trip report on our blog.

We also worked closely with Outdoor Industry Association and Outdoor Alliance to develop a list of eight bills that we would like to see Congress move this year. This package of bills would protect lands and waters in Washington, Oregon, California, Montana, and Tennessee. We chose bills that face little or no opposition, and have already had at least one Congressional hearing. It is unclear from our meetings whether the Congress will try to move a package of lands bills before they adjourn later this year, but these bills would be a nice investment in conservation that benefits outdoor recreation.

Our trip coincided with the grand opening of the new REI Flagship store in Washington, DC. Our friends at REI hosted a vibrant party to show off their beautiful new store, and to talk about the company’s commitment to the greater Washington community.

This trip is likely our final visit to Washington during the Obama Administration. It has been an honor to represent our member companies in urging the federal government to manage our public lands for conservation and recreation. After the election, we will begin to build relationships with the incoming administration to ensure that public land protection continues to be a priority over the next for years, and beyond!

Where Conservation and Advocacy Meet (for a drink)

Wild Drinks brings together member company employees and local conservation organizations in a happy hour setting to celebrate the work we have accomplished together. The goal of these events is to rally support on the local level for Conservation Alliance grantees.

Earlier this month we hosted Wild Drinks events in the Bay Area and Vancouver, British Columbia.  75 people from Conservation Alliance member companies came out to raise a glass for local grantees.  Participating members included The North Face, Mountain Hardwear, Outdoor Project, ClifBar, GU Energy, Peak Designs, SlingFin, Arc’teryx, Helly Hansen, Innate/GSI, MEC and SAXX Underwear.  Members heard from California Wilderness Coalition, Wilderness Land Trust, Friends of the Inyo, Winter Wonderlands Alliance and Raincoast about the work being done to protect landscapes in their area.

Wild Drinks in Portland, OR is coming up on November 3rd, and we’ll host events in Bend, OR and Carlsbad, CA before the end of the year.  Visit our events page for more details.  Cheers!



Letter to the President: #ProtectBearsEarsNow

October 19, 2016

President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, DC

Dear President Obama:

As outdoor industry companies that depend on the wild landscapes where our customers recreate, we urge you to use your authority under the Antiquities Act to protect the Bears Ears landscape in southeastern Utah as a national monument. This internationally significant place deserves protection for its singular cultural significance, and for its outstanding recreation opportunities that directly benefit the outdoor industry and its customers.

Over the past 80 years, several proposals have sought to protect all or part of this important landscape, including the recent Public Lands Initiative (PLI) led by Representatives Rob Bishop and Jason Chaffetz. Unfortunately, the legislation includes provisions that make it impossible for us to support. The PLI contradicts several bedrock conservation laws, and would undermine the sound management of proposed wilderness areas, national conservation areas, special management areas, and recreation zones. The PLI would also grant management of more than 1,000 miles of public roads to the State of Utah, and give the state the authority to approve energy development on federal lands in eastern Utah.

Given the value of this special landscape, combined with current and acute threats to its integrity, we feel that the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition’s proposal to create a collaboratively-managed national monument that respects and celebrates the traditional and ancestral ties of Native American people to these lands – while protecting the landscape for all Americans – is the most viable path forward.

There are many reasons to protect the Bears Ears, but we in the outdoor industry best understand the value of this area for recreation and respectful adventure. We acknowledge that the Bears Ears region – with more than 100,000 archaeological sites – is America’s most significant unprotected cultural landscape, and that recreation on these sacred lands must be enjoyed respectfully. With engagement from the Native American community and recreation interests, we can ensure that important outdoor recreation opportunities like climbing in Indian Creek, paddling the San Juan River, and backpacking in Grand Gulch are preserved.

The proposed Bears Ears National Monument – conceived by a historic consortium of sovereign tribal nations and backed by a diverse group of stakeholders – would honor the area’s rich cultural history and preserve its many outdoor recreation amenities. We support your use of the Antiquities Act to secure a national monument designation for Bears Ears this year.


Summer 2016 Grant Announcement: $820,000 Awarded to 23 Organizations

The Conservation Alliance is pleased to fund  the following organizations for their effort to protect wild land and waterways for their habitat and recreation values. These grants are made possible by 197 outdoor businesses who care passionately about protecting wild places for future generations. Each of these businesses is a member of The Conservation Alliance, and plays a critical role in determining which organizations receive funding. Thank you to all of our members for protecting wild places across North America. Download the complete Summer 2016 Grant Announcement here.

*Discretionary Grant: The Conservation Alliance board has the authority to make discretionary grants not to exceed #10,000 to projects with an urgent and time-sensitive need.

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