We Stand By Our Land

The Conservation Alliance Board and Staff, November 2016,  Santa Barbara, CA

The Conservation Alliance board and staff gathered at the Toad&Co offices in Santa Barbara last week to hammer out a new, three-year strategic plan, and a 2017 annual operating plan. We intentionally scheduled the retreat for the week after the elections to ensure that we made our plans with a full understanding of the political landscape in which we operate. We dared to assume that one pro-conservation administration would follow another, and our work over the next three years would simply build on our efforts over the past eight. Needless to say, the election results took us by surprise.

We actually don’t know much about where Donald Trump stands on conservation and public lands issues. We do know that there are members of Congress who would like to wreak havoc on our public lands system. These lawmakers have already introduced legislation that would transfer federal lands to the states, the first step toward privatizing those lands. The same members of Congress routinely stop conservation bills from moving forward, and have threatened to gut our bedrock environmental laws. During the past four years, President Obama has regularly used his authority under the Antiquities Act to designate national monuments to protect special lands when Congress has failed to act. Emboldened members of Congress are already talking about rescinding those national monument designations, and repealing the Antiquities Act.

Make no mistake. Our public lands system is now at risk.

“Public Lands” is a painfully generic term for places that inspire so much joy and awe; places that test our abilities and teach us lessons about our place in the world. These are the lands – our National Parks, Wilderness areas, Forest Service and BLM lands – that provide the setting for our great adventures or our daily trail runs. We backpack, ski, and mountain bike on our public lands. We paddle their rivers and lakes, and climb their rocks. Sometimes we go there to simply find quiet in an ever-busier world.

I grew up exploring public lands with my family. I learned to ski and climb there. I got engaged in one National Park, and honeymooned in another. During an eight-month job transition, my wife and I spent seven months on – and under the spell of – public lands. Sound familiar? I’m guessing most people who earn a living in the outdoor industry have a similar connection to our public lands. That’s good news, because we are going to need everyone to stand up now and repeatedly over the next four years in defense of these special places.

American voters elected Donald Trump, and gave his party majorities in both chambers of Congress. But I do not believe this election was a referendum on our public lands system. Public lands are one of the few institutions left in our society that transcend political affiliation. They are our common ground.

Our shared commitment to public lands will be tested over the next four years, and The Conservation Alliance will take a strong stand in their defense. Our new strategic plan will direct us to spend more time on our advocacy efforts, engaging our member companies and their employees to demonstrate support for public lands. Our funding program will continue to support efforts to protect our last wild places, seeking creative opportunities to preserve lands and waters in a challenging political climate. But we will make an important adjustment to our funding criteria, creating a new fund to support organizations working to defend the integrity of our public lands system. We look forward to branching out into this new area of funding.

To our members, we say without equivocation that our work together has never been more important. Our alliance of outdoor businesses has helped protect more than 45 million acres of land and 2,900 river miles over the past 27 years. Our steady success speaks to our ability to be nimble as the climate for conservation changes. Your board of directors met last week, and developed a solid plan for the next three years. We look forward to working with you to implement that plan, and to ensure that the outdoor industry does all we can to preserve our most special wild places.

Outdoor Businesses Call on President Obama to Expand the California Coastal National Monument

The Honorable Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20500


Dear Mr. President,

As outdoor industry companies that depend on protected landscapes where our customers recreate, we urge you to use your authority under the Antiquities Act to expand the California Coastal National Monument. After years of community dialogue and overwhelming public support, it is time to add Trinidad Head, Lighthouse Ranch, Lost Coast Headlands, Cotoni-Coast Dairies, and Piedras Blancas to the California Coastal National Monument.

When President Clinton first established the California Coastal National Monument in 2000, it became our most viewed, but least visited monument. Comprised originally of 20,000 offshore rocks and islands, the monument was biologically important and scenically jaw dropping, yet offered few opportunities to visitors. With your addition of the Point Arena-Stornetta Public Lands to the monument in 2014, visitors gained the first on-land addition to the monument. Expanding the monument will provide public access and interpretation opportunities while protecting important coastal resources for current and future generations to enjoy.

Thanks to the efforts of Senators Boxer and Feinstein along with Representatives Capps, Eshoo and Huffman, the proposed expansion of the California Coastal National Monument enjoys widespread support throughout California. We are encouraged that these Congressional champions have also called on you to expand the California Coastal National Monument.

As companies in California, we can attest to the direct benefits that this designation will bring to the communities of our state, and the outdoor industry. In California, the outdoor recreation economy contributes $85 billion in consumer spending and supports 732,000 jobs. This economic contribution depends on places for our customers to play, learn, and share the outdoors with friends and family. The proposed additions to the California Coastal National Monument will help grow California’s outdoor recreation economy.

We hope you will use the Antiquities Act to expand the California Coastal National Monument before the end of 2016.


Download a copy of this letter here.

Save the Date! The Conservation Alliance Breakfast with Climate Change Activist Auden Schendler

Noah Howell Little Pine Wasatch UT


The Conservation Alliance Breakfast
Wednesday, January 11, 2017
7:00-9:00 AM
The Marriott, Salons F-I, Salt Lake City

Gnomes and Brook Trout: Meaningful Climate Solutions in a Harsh World

A Presentation by Climate Change Activist Auden Schendler 

Brook trout will lose more than three-quarters of their range in the West in the next 75 years due to climate change. Winter sports will see snowpack declines of up to half by end of century. And our next president denies that there’s a problem. But our future can still be prosperous. The outdoor industry has two choices: slowly watch our business and lifestyle disappear, or become a meaningful part of the climate solution, protecting our economies for the long term. Auden Schendler is Sustainability VP at Aspen Skiing Company and board chair at Protect Our Winters. A (mostly) reformed dirtbag and lifelong outdoorsman, he works on high leverage solutions to climate change.

Arrive tired, leave inspired!

Conservation Alliance Grantees Deliver Five Victories


In October 2015, The Conservation Alliance invested $790,000 in grassroots conservation organizations. Each grant went to a project working to secure permanent protection for a specific threatened wild place.  We direct organizations to use our funding over the course of a 12-month period. At the end of the grant period, we ask each group for a final report. 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 five conservation victories, permanently protecting 1,823,423 acres, four river miles and one climbing area.

On October 1, we received 19 final reports. Following is a summary of the progress our grantees have made with our funding. At the end of the summary are several exciting updates on work we funded in April 2016. We will share final reports on all of our April 2016 grants in April 2017.

Download the complete report summary here.

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