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.

Portland Companies Celebrate 100th Anniversary of the National Park Service


On the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, 400 employees from Portland-based Conservation Alliance member companies and grantees gathered for the 8th Annual Portland Backyard Collective.  Almost 1000 volunteer hours were spent improving trails in Forest Park, removing invasive species and cleaning up local parks.

This was our biggest Backyard Collective event yet! We’re proud to see our community doing good work to preserve and protect the open spaces in our own backyard.  Thank you to the following member companies and non-profit partners for making it possible: Columbia Sportswear; Leatherman; Yakima Racks; Nau; Outdoor Project; Uncage the Soul Productions; KEEN; Notogroup Executive Search; Brook Hopper Consulting; The North Face; Outdoor Industry Association; Forest Park Conservancy; Wild Salmon Center; American Rivers; Western Rivers Conservancy; WaterWatch of Oregon; Oregon Wild; 1% for the Planet, and Friends of the Columbia Gorge.

A special thanks to our newest member company, Uncage the Soul, for snapping the 100th anniversary photo.


Seattle Backyard Collective


92 volunteers from REI, Filson, Stanley, Brooks, Nikwax, Perpetual Motion NW and Cascade Designs particpated in our 9th Annual Seattle BAckyard Collective earlier this month.  Employees from these Conservation Alliance member companies removed 15,373 square feet of invasive species to prepare a new area for planting, spread over 1,800 square feet of mulch and improved half an acre of forest.

A special thank you to Andrea Mojzak and her team at Forterra for organizing the volunteers.  Also, thank you to Rick Meade of Nikwax who donated his time and energy to photographing the event.

A New Vision for Conservation in Utah

by Willie Grayeyes, Utah Diné Bikéyah Board Chairman

Chimney Park and the Abajo Mountains as seen from the Notch Canyon overlook. Photo Credit: Tim Peterson


Gazing out across the Bears Ears landscape of southeastern Utah, every person sees the sandstone mesas and pinyon-juniper woodlands a little differently. Outdoor enthusiasts see world-class climbing, hiking, canyoneering and mountain biking. Local ranchers see abundant year-round forage for cattle and healthy landscapes to sustain future generations. Archaeologists see some of the most intact artifacts and best-preserved cliff dwellings in the world.

As Native Americans who have inhabited the Bears Ears region since time immemorial, we see a landscape still occupied by the spirits of our ancestors. We see a landscape layered with stories, songs, and prayers passed down generation to generation. We see our past and our future within the plants, animals, and ceremonies that are tied to this landscape, just as we are tied to this landscape like a child to its mother.

That attachment – and the vision of healing that connection between people and the Earth – has driven the historic initiative to protect the two-million-acre Bears Ears cultural landscape. An unprecedented coalition of Native American Tribes is calling on President Obama to protect Bears Ears now as a national monument. Under the 1906 Antiquities Act, the President has the power to protect this invaluable area from ongoing threats of looting, vandalism, and mineral extraction. The tribally-led vision of Bears Ears National Monument has drawn the support of a diverse array of individuals and organizations locally and across the United States, including the Conservation Alliance, outdoor recreationalists, as well as thousands of grassroots Native American people who live adjacent to the proposed Bears Ears National Monument. We thank you for your support!

Evolution of the Bears Ears Proposal

Utah Diné Bikéyah, the Native-led conservation nonprofit for which I serve as Board Chairman, has been a catalyzing force in the Bears Ears initiative. Our organization’s name (pronounced di-nay bi-kay-uh) means “sacred land of the people” in the Navajo language, and our Board of Directors is comprised exclusively of grassroots Native American leaders and traditionalists. For half a dozen years, UDB has been actively asserting our Native voice in public lands management in southeast Utah. We work to represent the interests of grassroots Native Americans who make up the majority population in Utah’s largest county, within which the Bears Ears cultural landscape lies. Starting in 2010, UDB Board and staff initiated the stakeholder engagement process that was eventually picked up and sponsored by Utah’s congressional representatives. Utah political leaders sought to sculpt a legislative solution for the future of Utah public lands that would appease all parties. Unfortunately, the legislative process failed to sufficiently respond to Native American requests or honor our deep connection to these lands. Our voices were not listened to.

And so, in 2015, UDB asked for the help of five sovereign Tribes – Navajo, Ute Mountain Ute, Hopi, Zuni, and Uintah Ouray Ute – to lead the effort to protect Bears Ears. The five Tribes formed the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition, an unprecedented Coalition of sovereign tribal nations that has been working in a government-to-government relationship with the Obama Administration over the past year to secure protections for this two million acre cultural landscape. The proposed Bears Ears National Monument marks the first time in history that Tribes have asked a President of the United States to designate a national monument in honor of Native American heritage. As outlined in the Tribes’ proposal, Bears Ears National Monument would also be the strongest collaborative management model ever implemented, with Tribes sharing equal status with federal agencies in overseeing and managing our ancestral homelands.

Recreation as Part of Healing

UDB and the Coalition are also collaborating with conservationists and recreationalists who care deeply about the future of the Bears Ears region. Bears Ears is a revered destination for activities like rock climbing, camping, backpacking, and river rafting, and UDB sees these activities as a form of healing. Native and non-Native people alike enjoy recreational activities as well as the experience of simply being out in a remote, wild and ecologically intact landscape. Two million acres is a modest request in a world where such places have become all too rare. We understand that these lands provide psychological and spiritual sustenance for all of us.

That is why UDB and the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition are working closely with recreation advocacy organizations to ensure that world-class climbing routes will remain open and accessible. After all, the Ancestral Puebloans who lived here long ago were clearly incredible climbers, constructing sophisticated cliff dwellings in unlikely alcoves and hard-to-reach ledges that can still be visited today. The proposal recommends that all respectful recreational uses continue within the Bears Ears landscape.

Utah Diné Bikéyah and Tribes appreciated the formal endorsement of the Bears Ears National Monument proposal by the Access Fund, the Outdoor Industry Association, and the Outdoor Alliance on July 29. Public articulation of support for Bears Ears National Monument by over a dozen leading outdoor companies including Black Diamond, Patagonia, and The North Face on August 4 further reinforced that cultural preservation and recreational access can and will co-exist in a future Bears Ears National Monument.

Seeing the New Route Forward

When we look out across Bears Ears, what we see reflects what we each value about this unique landscape. With Bears Ears National Monument, Tribes are proposing to honor and protect the many ways of using and relating to this region that sustain this cultural landscape and the people – all the people – who treasure Bears Ears.

Come, stand here beside us. Can you see what we see? Together we will share a unified vision for Bears Ears National Monument and lead a new route in American history.


What You Can Do

Sign the petition asking President Obama to designate Bears Ears National Monument:

Also learn more about the history of the tribally-led proposal, subscribe to Utah Dine Bikeyah’s e-newsletter, and show your support with great Protect Bears Ears gear!


New Donor Program Launches with Outdoor Industry Icons

Pictured left to right: Kirk Richardson; Steve Meineke; Matt Hyde; Steve Barker; Peter Metcalf; Adam Forest; Sally McCoy; Steve Rendle; and Casey Sheahan. (Not Pictured:  Yvon Chouinard and Rory Fuerst)

The Conservation Alliance launched a new major donor program at the Outdoor Retailer Summer Market in Salt Lake City. The Leading Edge program provides the opportunity for individuals to make a significant contribution to support The Conservation Alliance’s efforts to protect wild places throughout North America for their recreation and habitat values.

To be part of the Leading Edge, individuals must commit to contribute $5,000 annually for at least three years. Each of the initial Leading Edge donors is a long-time industry leader who has, through a lifetime of active commitment to conservation, earned the respect of the outdoor industry. Most are either founders of The Conservation Alliance, or have served on the organization’s board of directors. The initial Leading Edgers are: Yvon Chouinard; Steve and Nona Barker; Sally McCoy; Peter Metcalf; Adam Forest; Rory Fuerst; Matt Hyde; Steve Meineke; Steve Rendle; Kirk Richardson; and Casey Sheahan.

We are fortunate to have friends like these who have committed so much of their time and expertise to help build The Conservation Alliance,” said John Sterling, Conservation Alliance Executive Director. “Now we will benefit from their personal generosity.”

“I am happy to help launch the Leading Edge, support conservation, and create a stronger tradition of personal philanthropy within our industry,” said Sally McCoy, former CEO of CamelBak, and chair of The Conservation Alliance board. “Wild places are so important to the outdoor industry, and supporting The Conservation Alliance is an effective way to ensure these places are protected.”

The Leading Edge is now open to anyone who is interested in supporting The Conservation Alliance. Donors may direct their contributions to either the organization’s grant fund (to directly support conservation projects), or to the discretionary fund (to help cover The Conservation Alliance’s lean operating expenses).

“Serving on The Conservation Alliance board brought great meaning to my work in the outdoor industry, and I am honored to have the opportunity to give something back,” said Casey Sheahan, former CEO of Patagonia, and, like McCoy, chair of The Conservation Alliance board. “When industry leaders founded The Conservation Alliance in 1989, they understood that conservation is a core value for our business. The Conservation Alliance has been a remarkable steward of that value ever since.”

“Time and again, outdoor industry leaders have demonstrated a willingness to work together to advance the causes foundational to the industry,” said Sterling. “Conservation is one of those shared values, and the Leading Edge will provide a lasting vehicle for industry leaders to express their personal commitment to protecting our wild places.”

Individuals interested in participating in the Leading Edge program should contact John Sterling.

Outdoor Retailer Events Promote National Monument Campaigns in Alaska and Utah

Florian Shulz shares stunning photos and videos from his journey from Baja to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

With a mere five months left in President Obama’s final term, potential new National Monument designations were in the air at The Conservation Breakfast at the Outdoor Retailer Summer Market in Salt Lake. Featured speaker, wildlife photographer Florian Schulz, gave a stunning presentation that followed the Pacific Coast from Baja to the Arctic, and ended with a plea that President Obama designate the Coastal Plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge as a National Monument. Doing so would end the decades-long battle over whether to protect the Coastal Plain, or open it to oil drilling.

Prior to Schulz’s talk, the standing-room-only crowd heard from Christy Goldfuss, Managing Director of the White House Council on Environmental Quality. Goldfuss and her team advise the President on conservation policy, and play a key role in determining which landscapes to preserve as National Monuments. During her remarks, Goldfuss addressed National Monuments and the controversial proposals that would protect millions of acres of public land in places like Southern Utah, the Arctic, Grand Canyon, and Oregon’s Owyhee Canyonlands. “How bold we can be really depends on how loud all of you are in saying that these places matter to the future of our nation,” she said. “Right now it matters. Jump in. Tell us what’s important to you.” So we jumped in immediately with a post card campaign in support of protecting the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Later that day, a collection of outdoor industry business leaders held a press conference to voice support for the proposed Bears Ears National Monument in Southern Utah. Conservation Alliance board member and founder of Black Diamond Equipment Peter Metcalf led the press conference, which included voices from Petzl, The North Face, Patagonia, KEEN Footwear, Osprey, Skull Candy, Armada, Treasure Mountain Inn, Kuhl, POC, Gregory, Rossignol, and Mountain Hardwear. If designated, the Bears Ears National Monument would protect nearly two million acres of land in Utah, including Indian Creek, Grand Gulch, the San Juan River, and the culturally-rich Cedar Mesa.

With the Outdoor Retailer show behind us, The Conservation Alliance will continue to bring our business voice to bear on conservation opportunities. We hope to celebrate some big victories before the end of the year!

Christy Goldfuss, Managing Director of the White House Council on Environmental Quality
400 Conservation Alliance Breakfast attendees took action by asking President Obama to protect the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
Scott Whipps, Chair of The Conservation Alliance Board, recognizes our seven Pinnacle members.
Conservation Alliance board members Peter Metcalf, Ann Krcik and Hans Cole, alongside 10 fellow outdoor industry leaders, called on President Obama to protect the Bears Ears region as a national monument at Outdoor Retailer.

Ambassador Spotlight: Laura Schaffer, Social & Environmental Responsibility Manager at Mountain Hardwear


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 Laura Schaffer, Social & Environmental Responsibility Manager at Mountain Hardwear. 

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

Conservation is something that’s best accomplished when people and places work together. The Ambassador opportunity is huge because we have a bunch of people within Mountain Hardwear who are hungry to actively engage in preserving the places we all love to play so I get to be the conduit between action makers and people who want to be a part of the action. Working with the Conservation Alliance board and other Ambassadors to lobby on Capitol Hill has been an incredible education in conservation policy and advocacy, and is one way I hope to ensure future generations are able to discover all that our natural spaces have to offer. Our industry’s greatest asset is nature itself and we wouldn’t exist without this earth’s inspiring and resource-filled wild places. Engaging with the Conservation Alliance is the least I can do to give back to all our planet has given us.

What areas of conservation are you most passionate about?

I’m most passionate about driving preservation of places that people find close to home. If we can maintain and grow wild places that are near and dear to people who cherish them, we will be able to conserve so much more down the road. As more and more people realize the incredible value and importance of our land and water, more and more people will become drivers of conservation, which is super important because conservation requires an ongoing commitment. Education drives new experiences, which drives passion and commitment to more education and conservation.

Favorite outdoor activity?

Put me on a mountain with skis underneath me and I am a happy woman. When I’m skiing I feel absolutely fully present – it’s me, the peaks and trees around me, the snow on my cold face, burning legs, racing heart and a whole lot of serenity. The other time I feel this absolutely sense of being in the right place and fully focused on what’s at hand is climbing, my other favorite way to experience the power of our great outdoors.

Favorite Wilderness or National Park?

Oh there are SO many special and unique places. Some of the best days of my life have been spent in the Sawtooths. The Ruby Mountains serve up incredible lines with not a soul in sight. Yosemite is just stunning and near and dear to my heart because it’s where I began to scratch the surface of what climbing could be. And the Wasatch and the Sierra have endless “just go and see where you end up” possibilities.

Most eye opening experience for the need of conservation.

For me, the fundamentally influential experience goes back to my childhood, when our family vacations were all camping trips. This fully shaped who I am today – my desire to explore places off the beaten path and all of the discovery that comes along with that – and it’s imperative that my two year old and her posse are able to have that experience. Threats like the Grand Canyon tramway and the movement to sell federal lands in my beloved Utah make me shake in my boots.

End Quote: Words of motivation to get others inspired.

Our wild places can get along just fine without us, but we’d be nowhere without our wild places. Life is better lived outside, and it’s up to us to make that possible.



ONDA Nominates KEEN for Monumental Effort to Protect the Owyhee Canyonlands

Each year we invite Conservation Alliance grantees from the past three funding cycles to nominate member companies for an Outstanding Partnership Award. The award recognizes member companies that go above and beyond in building relationships with Conservation Alliance grantees. Each nomination describes how the company engaged in a meaningful partnership to help the organization succeed in its conservation work. Celebrating these partnerships is a reflection of the community we have helped to build and exemplifies “Outdoor businesses giving back to the Outdoors.”   Dan Morse, Conservation Director at Oregon Natural Desert Association, nominated KEEN Footwear for providing outstanding support to the Owyhee Canyonlands Campaign. Dan shares his partnership story below. 

It would be difficult to imagine a company making a stronger commitment to conservation than Keen has over the last year. 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 it’s Live Monumental campaign. For the Oregon Natural Desert Association (ONDA) and the Owyhee Coalition this effort brought critical attention and support to the campaign to permanently protect the Owyhee Canyonlands. And Live Monumental brought equally helpful and appreciated support to four other conservation efforts across the country.

Keen’s efforts for the Owyhee Canyonlands through Live Monumental were and continue to be truly monumental. Kirk, Kirsten, Chris, Linda and a host of others worked tirelessly to increase the reach of communications about the Owyhee, to educate elected officials and to help people across the country learn about the Owyhee. Keen’s work reached not only recreationists, but people from all walks of life who then made their voices heard in support of permanently protecting the Owyhee Canyonlands.

Whether driving a slow, bright yellow RV across the country bringing attention to conservation or actively participating in community meetings, countless conference calls or trips to D.C. Keen showed up for the Owyhee and other areas in huge ways over the past year. The true reward for this tireless work is the successful permanent protection of several of the Live Monumental campaigns and, we hope, at least one more…

That said there could hardly be a company or group of individuals more worthy of recognition for their efforts on behalf of conservation this year. ONDA is deeply appreciative of their commitment and incredibly proud to nominate Keen Footwear for the Conservation Alliance Outstanding Partnership Award.

Trust for Public Land Nominates Ibex for Outstanding Partnership Award

Ibex and TPL at Ascutney Mountain, VT on June 24, 2016.

Each year we invite Conservation Alliance grantees from the past three funding cycles to nominate member companies for an Outstanding Partnership Award. The award recognizes member companies that go above and beyond in building relationships with Conservation Alliance grantees. Each nomination describes how the company engaged in a meaningful partnership to help the organization succeed in its conservation work. Celebrating these partnerships is a reflection of the community we have helped to build and exemplifies “Outdoor businesses giving back to the Outdoors.”  Trust for Public Land nominated Ibex Outdoor Clothing for their outstanding support in Vermont and beyond. 

Over the past two years, Ibex Outdoor Clothing has been an outstanding partner and friend to The Trust for Public Land. Our relationship with Ibex began in Vermont, their home state.  Ted Manning, Ibex CEO, joined The Trust for Public Land’s Vermont Advisory Board in 2014 and has been a committed and engaged member ever since. Of particular note has been Ted’s leadership in the development of our Vermont strategic plan and his ongoing work as a spokesman and champion of the organization’s conservation efforts across the Green Mountain State.

Ted, in partnership with Chelsea Pawlek (Ibex Supply Chain Manager and Conservation Alliance Board member), helped to organize The Trust for Public Land’s National Board retreat, which was held in Vermont last summer (the retreat rotates to different locations across the country each year). Perhaps most notable was their work in organizing and recruiting a panel of business representatives that focused on the intersection of business and conservation. The gathering helped tremendously to deepen our relationships with the business community in Vermont and beyond, and has already led to additional philanthropic support and free marketing services.

As part of the retreat, Ibex generously donated beautiful merino wool vests emblazoned with our logo for each board member and local staff member. Fifty vests were donated in total, with a retail value of approximately $5,000.

Outside of Vermont, Ibex participated in a dinner event that The Trust for Public Land hosted in Salt Lake City, and have expressed interest in continuing to learn about our work in locations outside of Vermont as well.

Ted has been a champion of the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund, one of our nation’s most important sources of public conservation funding. He has participated in radio shows about the economic importance of the outdoor industry in Vermont and nationally, and how the outdoor industry benefits from conserved land.

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