Ruffwear Contributes $50,000 to Public Lands Defense Fund


Ruffwear has contributed $50,000 to The Conservation Alliance to support the organization’s efforts to protect and defend public lands in the United States. The Conservation Alliance will direct the funds into its new Public Lands Defense Fund, created by the organization to preserve and defend the integrity of our public lands system.

The Bend, Oregon-based manufacturer of performance dog gear is a long-time member of The Conservation Alliance, and is committed to preserving open lands and waterways, providing important habitat for wildlife and recreational opportunities for humans and canines.

The Conservation Alliance established the Public Lands Defense Fund (PLDF) in January 2017 to safeguard the integrity of our public lands in the face of dramatic proposals at the federal and state levels that would undermine those lands.

“We are grateful to Ruffwear for demonstrating such leadership in our shared effort to protect and defend public lands,” said John Sterling, executive director of The Conservation Alliance. “These lands are the backbone of outdoor recreation in America.”

The Conservation Alliance makes grants from the PLDF to support conservation organizations working to defend public lands. President Trump recently ordered Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to review 26 national monuments designated since 1996 to determine whether they should be reduced in size, or rescinded entirely. The PLDF has already funded nine organizations to defend national monuments in Oregon, California, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, and Arizona. The fund has also supported efforts to prevent the transfer of public lands to private ownership in Oregon, and to oppose legislation that would undermine bedrock environmental laws.

“We believe in serving our community and protecting wild places,” said Ruffwear President Will Blount. “Many of the moments we cherish most with our dogs take place on our public lands. The Conservation Alliance is doing critical work to safeguard public lands and waterways, and this donation is our contribution to that effort to ensure that future generations of pups and people will be able to experience America’s natural treasures.”

The Conservation Alliance will contribute at least $255,000 from the PLDF in 2017. All companies and individuals are welcome to contribute to the fund. The PLDF supplements the organization’s regular funding program, which, since 1989, has supported efforts to secure new protections for wild places throughout North America. In 2017, The Conservation Alliance will make grants totaling $1.6 million from that regular grant program.


3,000 Outdoor Industry Folks March to UT’s Capitol

On July 27th, 2017, during the final Outdoor Retailer in Salt Lake City, 3,000 outdoor industry business owners, outdoor enthusiasts, friends and colleagues marched to the Utah state capitol to show their support for our shared public lands.

Ten inspiring speakers greeted marches at the steps of the capitol with a rally, encouraging our community to keep celebrating and keep fighting for our country’s most precious resource: our shared public lands.

Speakers included:

  • Amy Roberts, Executive Director, OIA
  • Shaun Chapoose, Ute Indian Tribe Business Committee member and founding member of the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition
  • Adam Cramer, Executive Director, Outdoor Alliance
  • Conrad Anker, Captain of The North Face Global Athlete Team
  • Jerry Stritzke. CEO of REI
  • Blake Spalding, Owner, Hells Backbone Grill
  • Jackie Biskupski, Salt Lake City Mayor
  • Amy Roberts with Mayor Biskupski and Tom Adams, Utah Director of Outdoor Recreation
  • John Sterling, Executive Director, The Conservation Alliance

The same day, The Conservation Alliance supported five grantees to lead concurrent public lands marches and rallies in five other locations across the West. Those included:

  • Oregon Natural Desert Association: Bend, OR
  • Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center: Medford, OR
  • New Mexico Wilderness Alliance: Las Cruces, NM
  • Winter Wildlands Alliance: Mammoth Lakes, CA
  • Northeastern Minnesotans for Wilderness: Ely, MN

Thanks to everyone who participated – both in spirit and in person!

Cheers to WZRD Media for capturing the march.

Visit our facebook page for more march photos!


Grantees Deliver Nine Conservation Victories


In April 2016, The Conservation Alliance invested $820,000 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 nine conservation victories, permanently protecting 3,700,615 acres, 107 river miles and one climbing area.

On April 1, we received 24 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 October 2016. We will share final reports on all of our October 2016 grants in October 2017.

Download the complete report summary here.

Monuments Matter: Our Formal Response to Monument Review, MS-1530

This is an image I shot in May atop Blue Ridge, west of Vacaville, California.  The setting sun provided some really nice colors that evening, and the long focal length and atmosphere brought out the blues and purples in the mountains.

Some scenes are just difficult to convey with a photograph.  I remember standing there with the breeze going, amazed at the layers that were illuminated.  Photographs bring the visual elements to the viewer, but what they fail to bring is the breeze, the temperature, the movement, the smell, the sounds, and the view/story behind the camera.  Video adds a few of those, but it also has limitations.  This was one of those evenings that I wish I could just transport viewers from their computer, to the top of Blue Ridge.      

Canon 5D Mark II
Canon 100-400L @190mm
1/10 second exposure @ F8
Singh-Ray 3 stop reverse hard grad filter
This is one single image @ ISO 50

The Conservation Alliance has a 28-year history of investing in efforts to protect public lands for their habitat and recreation values. In April, President Trump signed an executive order directing Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to review all national monument designations larger than 100,000 acres from the past 21 years to determine whether their boundaries are consistent with the intent of the Antiquities Act. The Conservation Alliance actively supported 10 of the 27 monuments under review.

Below is our formal comment submitted under Monument Review, MS-1530:

June 29, 2017

The Honorable Secretary Ryan Zinke
U.S. Department of the Interior
1849 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20240
RE: Monument Review, MS-1530

Dear Secretary Zinke,

On behalf of our membership, thank you for the opportunity to provide comment to Monument Review, MS-1530. The Conservation Alliance is a group of more than 200 outdoor industry and enthusiast companies nationwide that manufacture and sell products for use and enjoyment in the outdoors. As engaged stakeholders that depend on the wild landscapes where our customers recreate, we strongly oppose any executive action that would reduce or rescind any national monument under review.

We have already submitted comments specific to your review of the Bears Ears National Monument, so this submission focuses on the other monuments under review. The Conservation Alliance has a 28-year history of supporting conservation efforts that benefit outdoor recreation. During that time, our 200+ member companies have invested their time and financial resources in efforts to secure protection for ten of the terrestrial monuments currently under review:

  • Bears Ears National Monument
  • Berryessa-Snow Mountain National Monument
  • Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument
  • Gold Butte National Monument
  • Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument
  • Mojave Trails National Monument
  • Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument
  • San Gabriel Mountains National Monument
  • Sand to Snow National Monument
  • Vermillion Cliffs National Monument

Together, these monuments preserve world-class outdoor recreation, important wildlife habitat, and sensitive cultural artifacts and archaeological sites. These landscapes are among the special protected places that make the Western United States unique. Cherished by people who live nearby, and by those who visit from far away, our national monuments are an essential chapter in our American story. They provide rare opportunities for adventure, inspiration, and solace. They are also an important economic driver.

National monuments are a key asset for the outdoor recreation economy. The customers of our member companies – hikers, climbers, skiers, backpackers, paddlers, mountain bikers, hunters, and anglers – need protected landscapes to use the products our members make and sell. According to the Outdoor Industry Association, outdoor recreation generates $887 billion in direct consumer spending, and supports 7.6 million jobs nationwide. Each of the national monuments under review contributes to this economic activity.

In addition to their contributions to the outdoor recreation economy, national monuments drive economic activity in communities near these landscapes. A recent study of 17 national monuments by Headwaters Economics found that the local economies surrounding each of the monuments grew following the monument designation. Population, employment, personal income, and per-capita income all increased in these communities after creation of the monuments. The study also found no evidence that the new national monuments prevented economic growth.

Beyond the economic benefits they offer, national monuments are overwhelmingly supported by Americans nationwide. This review has triggered one of the largest outpouring of support for our protected public lands that our country has ever seen. To date, well over one million people have submitted comments, and the overwhelming majority, over 95%, urge you to keep the monument boundaries as they are. With this letter, we add our voice to that wave of support.

The process that led to the designation of these monuments was thorough and transparent. Local residents, outdoor enthusiasts, businesses, chambers of commerce, and elected officials took the opportunity to weigh in on proposed protections after years of negotiation. Thank you for reviewing the decades of hard work and thoughtful consideration that culminated in the designation of the national monuments under review. We are confident that any serious review of these places will confirm that their boundaries are appropriate, and that previous Presidents did the right thing by protecting these special landscapes.

We look forward to working with you to steward America’s greatest public land treasures in a manner that allows future generations of Americans to enjoy these wild places. Our national monuments are national treasures and preserving their existing boundaries is an investment in our future.


John Sterling
Executive Director

Welcoming New Staff and Board Members

Left to Right: Kirsten Blackburn, Tyler LaMotte and Mary Maliff

The Conservation Alliance board elected Tyler LaMotte, VP of Global Brand Marketing at KEEN, Inc., and Mary Maliff, Director at The Forest Group to serve on our board of directors. LaMotte was elected by the board of directors to fill an unexpected vacancy, while The Conservation Alliance membership elected Maliff during an annual board election.

Tyler and Mary bring exciting fresh blood to The Conservation Alliance, and we will benefit from the broad range of experience that they bring to the table. Tyler’s term began in May, and Mary’s term will begin on July 25, 2017.

In addition to the new board members, Kirsten Blackburn joined The Conservation Alliance as the new Advocacy Program Manager. Kirsten previously worked at KEEN, Inc. where she played a lead role in the company’s Live Monumental campaign. Kirsten also served on The Conservation Alliance board. In her new role, Kirsten will lead will lead our efforts to educate and engage member companies on public lands issues.

These additions to the staff and board come at a time when America’s public lands are threatened by proposals by the Trump Administration and members of Congress to undermine long-standing protections for our special wild places.

We are fortunate to operate in an industry that cherishes our wildlands and rivers, and to work with talented people like Tyler, Mary, and Kirsten who are so committed to our mission.

Announcing Five Grants to Support Public Lands Events Nationwide on July 27

The Conservation Alliance awarded five grants to conservation organizations to support “This Land is Our Land” celebrations in Oregon, California, Minnesota and New Mexico. The public lands celebrations will take place on July 27, the same day as the outdoor industry’s “This Land is Our Land March For Public Lands” in Salt Lake City, UT.

“America’s public lands are the backbone of the outdoor industry, and they support local outdoor recreation economies across the county. With help from Conservation Alliance grantees, people in California, New Mexico, Minnesota and Oregon will have the opportunity to join the outdoor industry’s celebration of public lands on July 27,” said John Sterling, executive director of The Conservation Alliance.

Grant recipients will host public lands celebrations in their communities to raise awareness and spark public lands discussions. Each group hosting an event has received Conservation Alliance funding for efforts to secure protections for public lands, and many of these protections are now at risk under Trump Administration and Congressional proposals. The events will provide a platform for people to express support and enthusiasm for public lands in communities that rely on protected land to support the local outdoor recreation economy.

The grants will support public lands celebrations in Medford, Oregon; Bend, Oregon; Las Cruces, New Mexico; Ely, Minnesota; and Mammoth Lakes, California.

“Oregonians share a deep love for our public lands and in Bend and Central Oregon public lands are a big part of our way of life,” said Brent Fenty, executive director of Oregon Natural Desert Association. “Public lands are also an important part of our local economy and help attract people and businesses who care about them. We are proud to work with this great community to highlight the value of public lands with the This Land is Our Land Rally on July 27th.

Grant recipients include:

Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center
Medford, OR

Oregon Natural Desert Association
Bend, OR

New Mexico Wilderness Alliance
Las Cruces, NM

Northeastern Minnesotans for Wilderness
Ely, MN

Winter Wildlands Alliance
Mammoth Lakes, CA


About the “This Land is Our Land March For Public Lands”
The “This Land is Our Land March For Public Lands”, hosted by The Conservation Alliance, Outdoor Industry Association and Outdoor Alliance, will take place on July 27, Day Two of Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2017. The march will start in the South Plaza of the Salt Palace Convention Center at 4:30 p.m. and will proceed along a designated route to the Utah State Capitol. At the Capitol, industry leaders and experts will hold a 45-minute rally to raise issues that spark further public lands discussion and action. Speakers include Utah tribal leaders, outdoor industry leaders, athletes, and policy makers.

All Outdoor Retailer show attendees as well as interested citizens of Utah are welcome to attend. All participants are asked to abide by the established Code of Conduct.

$110,000 Awarded to Nine Organizations Defending Public Lands

Photo:  Tim Peterson

The Conservation Alliance Board has approved nine emergency grants to support organizations working to defend our public lands. The grants, totaling $110,000, come from our new Public Lands Defense Fund.  We have awarded a total of $145,000 in grants from this fund in 2017 and plan to disburse at least $185,000 before the end of this year.

We established the Public Lands Defense Fund in January 2017 with contributions from Patagonia, The North Face, Arc’teryx, GU Energy Labs and Ibex Outdoor Clothing. Together, these four companies have committed $185,000 this year to support efforts to defend the integrity of our public lands. The Conservation Alliance board of directors awarded the following Public Lands Defense Fund grants last week:

Organization Project Amount
Earthworks Grassroots Campaign to Defend NEPA  $       7,500
Friends of Cedar Mesa Strategic Defense of Bears Ears National Monument  $     20,000
Friends of Nevada Wilderness Gold Butte National Monument Defense Campaign  $     10,000
Grand Canyon Trust Defending Bears Ears National Monument  $     10,000
New Mexico Wilderness Alliance Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks Defense Campaign $     15,000
Outdoor Alliance Navigating the New Public Land Heist  $       5,000
Soda Mountain Wilderness Council Defending the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument  $     10,000
The Wilderness Society Defending Our National Monuments in California and Arizona  $     17,500
Western Environmental Law Center Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument Defense  $     15,000

Seven organizations received funding to respond to President Trump’s executive order directing Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to review all national monument designations larger than 100,000 acres from the past 21 years. Going back to 1999, The Conservation Alliance awarded 25 grants, totaling $765,000, to 13 different conservation organizations whose work was instrumental in protecting 10 of the national monuments included in the review.

Every organization that received funding for national monument defense is a former grantee of The Conservation Alliance. These organizations used Conservation Alliance funding to help designate the national monuments, and now will use Alliance funding to defend them.

“We opposes any effort to change the boundaries of existing national monuments through executive action. These monuments protect landscapes with important recreation, cultural, and habitat values,” said John Sterling, executive director of The Conservation Alliance. “We invested in the designation of these monuments, and we are proud to be in a position to fund the groups working to defend them.”

In addition to national monument defense,  we awarded grants to Outdoor Alliance for its effort to oppose the transfer of federal lands to states and public lands to private ownership, and Earthworks for its effort to defend the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

Our Investment in National Monuments

The Conservation Alliance has a 28-year history of investing in efforts to protect public lands for their habitat and recreation values. In April, President Trump signed an executive order directing Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to review all national monument designations larger than 100,000 acres from the past 21 years to determine whether their boundaries are consistent with the intent of the Antiquities Act. The Interior Department then issued a list of 27 national monuments that would be included in the review, of which 22 are terrestrial and five are marine monuments. The Conservation Alliance made grants that helped secure 10 of those 22 land-based monuments under review.

Going back to 1999, we made 25 grants totaling $765,000 to 13 different conservation organizations whose work was instrumental in protecting 10 national monuments. This list only includes monuments currently under review by the Interior Department. Our funding has also helped secure many national monument designations that are not being considered by this review.

The Conservation Alliance opposes any effort to change the boundaries of existing national monuments through executive action. National monuments designated since 1996 protect landscapes with important recreation, cultural, and habitat values.


10 Takeaways from Sec. Zinke’s Interim Bears Ears Recommendation

141205_CedarMesa_photocredit_Mikey Schafer

From headlines, to tweets, to emails, to texts – there is a lot of press covering Secretary Zinke’s interim Bears Ears National Monument recommendation. Because the report provides more questions than answers, we did our best to break it down into ten takeaways.

You can find and download his the full report here and read our formal response to it, here.

 1. First things first, let’s ground ourselves in the legacy-defining American landscape we’re talking about: Bears Ears National Monument. Bears Ears is perhaps the only place in the country with the highest concentration of magnificent and culturally significant rock art, dwellings, archaeological and geological splendors, spiritual places, and vast recreation opportunities.

Photo: Marc Toso

2. Secretary Zinke recommends that Bears Ears National Monument be shrunk. Largely, this interim report is purposefully vague, leaving room for amendments prior to the final recommendation’s due date on August 24th. While neither redrawn boundary maps, nor new proposed acreage were provided, it is clear Secretary Zinke is recommending Bears Ears National Monument be reduced in size.

3. We don’t know exactly how or by whom it will change, yet. Sec. Zinke has fulfilled on his duty to provide an interim recommendation on Bears Ears within 45 days of President Trump’s Executive Order #13792; however, we will not know Sec. Zinke’s full and final recommendation until the final report is due on August 24th.

4. President Trump wants to be offered the opportunity to alter Bears Ears, all by himself.  Sec. Zinke is to offer President Trump a recommendation that he can exercise as an executive action. Many legal scholars agree any executive action to undo or change a national monument established by a preceding President is illegal.


While rare, past Presidents have used executive action to change national monument boundaries. Notably, none of these changes have been challenged in court. The most notorious example of a President using executive action to alter a national monument was in 1915 when President Woodrow Wilson nearly cut in half Teddy Roosevelt’s Mount Olympus National Monument. This was never challenged in court, and in 1938 Congress acted to permanently protect Teddy’s original National Monument as Olympic National Park and doubled its size!

5. Sec. Zinke must recommend a way for Congress to make changes, too.  He’s tentatively recommended the following: 1) Congress should allow tribal co-management of whatever cultural areas are protected after the monument has been resized. 2) Congress should establish certain smaller areas as a national recreation areas (NRA) or a national conservation areas (NCA). 3)Congress should reevaluate the necessity of wilderness and wilderness study areas within a national monument boundary.

6. NRA, NCA and national monument…what’s the difference?  Both National Recreation Areas (NRAs) and National Conservation Areas (NCAs) are areas of public land protected for recreation, conservation and/or ecologic values. Often times NRAs are managed by the Forest Service (USFS) or National Park Service (NPS) and NCAs are managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).  Unlike national monuments, NRAs and NCAs can only be designated through an act of Congress. While national monuments can be designated through congress as well, they are primarily established through executive action of the President by way of the Antiquities Act.

7. The integrity of the Antiquities Act is challenged, but its importance cannot be overstated.  Theodore Roosevelt catalyzed our country’s conservation legacy in 1906 with the creation of the Antiquities Act. Today, it is still one of the most important conservation tools in the toolbox. Historically nonpartisan, the Antiquities Act has been used by all but three U.S. Presidents, of the 18 since Teddy Roosevelt established the act, to protect over 130 national monuments. In fact, some of our country’s most iconic landscapes were first protected as national monuments under this Act. The Grand Canyon, Death Valley, Katmai, Pinnacles, and Olympic National Park are just some examples of world famous National Parks that began as National Monuments and were later bestowed by Congress as National Parks.

Teddy Roosevelt and John Muir in Yosemite’s Glacier Point, Photo: Library of Congress


8. The comments submitted and comments received don’t match up.  Sec. Zinke stated that 78,000 people submitted comments on behalf of Bears Ears.  When Sec. Zinke asked the American people to comment on the future of Bears Ears and the other 26 national monuments under review, one of the largest show of support for public lands erupted. Our partners counted every comment, and reported that over 1,000,000 Americans submitted comment on behalf of our special places.

9. While this interim recommendation sets the stage for more attacks on our public lands, we have a tool to defend them. OUR VOICES!

10. Secretary Zinke works for you, make sure he hears from you.  You have until July 10th to formally submit a comment to Secretary Zinke. Passionately tell him why Bears Ears National Monument should remain the way it is today, forever. Still want to do more? Speak up on behalf of the other 26 national monuments under review as well! Follow the two steps below to add your voice. We’ve added some suggested messaging to get you started, but please be sure to personalize your note. Thanks for taking action!

  1.  Click this link to access the DOI comment page: 

  2.  Copy and paste the comment below.  It is very important that you personalize your comment. If you don’t personalize it, your comment may not be counted.  Please edit or add text based on your own experience.


As an outdoor enthusiast who loves our public lands, I support the designation of Bears Ears National Monument and ask that it’s boundaries remain unchanged.

For more than 100 years, Presidents of both parties have used the Antiquities Act–a tool signed into law by Theodore Roosevelt–to enact far-sighted protections for our common American inheritance. Bears Ears is exactly the kind of place the Antiquities Act intended to protect. It is rich in cultural history which inspired a historic coalition of tribes to band together to push for its designation. In addition to protecting over 100,000 archaeological sites, the designation preserves world-class recreation opportunities in places like Cedar Mesa, Grand Gulch, and Indian Creek.

The process that led to the designation of Bears Ears National Monument was thorough and transparent. For more than 80 years, decision makers from all sides presented proposals seeking permanent protection of all or part of this incredible landscape. The boundaries were informed by both the multi-year Public Lands Initiative and by a proposal from the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition. Those boundaries do not exceed the acreage necessary to preserve the rich cultural heritage, ecological values, and recreation assets.

Thank you for reviewing the decades of hard work and thoughtful consideration that culminated in the designation of Bears Ears National Monument. Please recommend that President Trump leave the current Bears Ears National Monument boundaries in place.

Our Response to Secretary Ryan Zinke’s Interim Recommendation on Bears Ears National Monument

Photo Credit: Patagonia & Paul Draper

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke today recommended that the boundaries of Bears Ears National Monument be revised. Though his recommendation is short on details, it is clear that Secretary Zinke thinks President Trump should use executive action to reduce the size of the monument. This action sets in motion what many legal scholars agree is an illegal attempt to remove protections for the national monument in Utah. The Conservation Alliance will seek opportunities to support legal challenges to any executive order that attempts to change the Bears Ears boundaries.

It is hard to square Secretary Zinke’s recommendation with the fact that more than one million people commented in support of keeping the Bears Ears boundaries fully intact. The recommendation ignores the overwhelming will of Americans, Utahns, and most importantly the voice of unified Native American Tribes, who support full protection for the existing Bears Ears National Monument.

Secretary Zinke’s recommendation also represents a broad attack on the integrity of our public lands system by diminishing an important conservation tool. The Antiquities Act, signed into law by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1906, gives the president the authority to safeguard federal lands and cultural and historical sites for all Americans to enjoy. Legal experts have concluded that the Antiquities Act clearly gives the president the authority to designate national monuments, but not the authority to rescind those designations. Any attempt to change the boundaries of Bears Ears will be challenged in court.

After President Trump ordered the national monument review, we stated our belief that any serious review of Bears Ears would conclude that this is a special place, beloved by millions of Americans for its cultural, recreation, and habitat values. Today’s recommendation indicates that the review was not serious, ignoring public sentiment, and disregarding the legitimate concerns of the tribal coalition that led the designation effort. The Conservation Alliance will work closely with our member companies and our partners in the conservation community to challenge this recommendation, and to demonstrate to political leaders the important role national monuments play in the outdoor recreation economy.

Together, we have made huge investments in our national monuments. We hope you will join us in protecting that investment. Please stay tuned for more details and opportunities to take action as this issue develops.


John Sterling
Executive Director

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