House Bills Continue the Assault on our Public Lands

Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Utah Photo: BLM

The attack on our National Monuments did not end in December with President Trump’s unprecedented attempt to shrink Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments by two million acres. Trump’s executive order reducing the size of the two Utah monuments immediately triggered five lawsuits from Native American, conservation, and outdoor recreation interests. The Conservation Alliance proudly issued a $75,000 grant to Earthjustice to support their legal challenge to the boundary change. And many legal scholars predict the courts will overturn Trump’s order.

Perhaps out of concern that many of Trump’s executive orders have withered under legal scrutiny, members of Congress have introduced legislation that would codify the changes Trump made in December. To be clear, Congress has always had the authority to change National Monument boundaries, or rescind their designation entirely. In the past, Congress has had little interest in removing protections for popular National Monuments. But this is no ordinary Congress.

The Conservation Alliance strongly opposes three bills currently introduced into the House of Representatives. Two of the bills – HR 4532 and HR 4558 – would make Trump’s boundary changes to Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante the law of the land. The third, HR 3990, would eviscerate the Antiquities Act, the law Presidents have used since 1906 to designate National Monuments. (We have the Antiquities Act to thank for first protecting the Grand Canyon, Devil’s Tower, Zion, Joshua Tree, and Muir Woods, among other special landscapes).

Here’s a quick summary of the three bills:

  • The Shash Jaa National Monument & Indian Creek National Monument Act (R. 4532), introduced by Utah Rep. John Curtis, would leave just 15 percent of the original Bears Ears National Monument intact with the creation of two smaller monuments. The bill would establish a new management council that excludes tribes that advocated for the protection of Bears Ears National Monument.
  • The Grand Staircase-Escalante Enhancement Act (R. 4558), introduced by Utah Rep. Chris Stewart, would codify President Trump’s likely illegal action of cutting Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in half by creating three new monuments and one new National Park in the area, leaving much of the existing landscape open to mineral extraction. The bill would also transfer control of these four areas from the federal government to state and county decision makers.
  • The National Monument Creation and Protection Act (R. 3990) introduced by Utah Rep. Rob Bishop would gut the  Antiquities Act by dramatically narrowing the definition of what qualifies for protection, putting arbitrary acreage caps and location limits on monuments, and giving Presidents the authority to erase vast portions of existing National Monuments.

Each of these bills continues the assault on our public lands launched by President Trump and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke last year. Fortunately, it is hard to pass bills through Congress, and each of us can pressure our members of Congress to oppose these measures. The Conservation Alliance is teaming up with Backcountry Hunters and Anglers to deliver a letter opposing the three bills to House Natural Resources Committee Chair Rob Bishop. Check out the letter here. If you would like to add your company’s name to the letter, please complete the form below the letter.

For more than 20 years, The Conservation Alliance has funded efforts to designate National Monuments. Last year, we engaged our members and their employees to defend our monuments from attacks from President Trump. This year, we expect to direct much of our energy toward opposing bad bills in Congress, like the three described here. Thank you for speaking up in defense of our public lands

Michael LaLonde, President of Deschutes Brewery, Joins The Conservation Alliance Board


The Conservation Alliance board elected Michael LaLonde, President and CEO of Deschutes Brewery to serve on the board of directors. LaLonde joins the board as we seek to recruit more members from the craft brewing sector.

LaLonde joined Deschutes Brewery in 2005 as CFO. Prior to Deschutes, he worked for the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community in Scottsdale, AZ for 12 years. He has volunteered his time with the Red Cross, Bend Chamber of Commerce, The Boys and Girls Club, the Deschutes River Conservancy, and Oregon State University-Cascades.

“As a craft brewery from Oregon, our company culture is deeply connected to the great outdoors. My fellow brewery co-owners and I ski, snowboard, bike, run, surf, boat, hunt, fish, you name it,” said LaLonde. “I am energized by the difference we can make by banding together with other Conservation Alliance members to put ‘boots on the ground’ to help protect our wild places. The need for action is more urgent than ever right now.”

LaLonde fills the seat vacated by outgoing board member Chelsea Hadlock of Ibex Outdoor Clothing. The Conservation Alliance membership will elect a second new board member in June to fill a seat vacated by Scott Whipps of Toad & Co., who reaches his term limits in July.

We look forward to working with Michael as we draw the connection between trail and tavern.

2017 Annual Report: Holding the Line and Preparing for the Future

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We are proud that The Conservation Alliance continues to grow as the outdoor industry further recognizes the importance of protecting wild places for their habitat and recreation values. In 2017, our membership’s commitment to conservation was put to the test as the Trump Administration and Congress launched unprecedented attacks on the US public lands system. We responded by contributing an all-time high $1.816 million to 50 conservation organizations. That means that our 210 member companies pulled together like never before to fund the most effective conservation projects in North America. As we entered 2017, we recognized new political threats to our wildlands and waters, and launched a new advocacy program designed to educate and engage our members on public lands issues. We also built our Public Lands Defense Fund, a new grant program that empowers us to make emergency grants to defend the integrity of the public lands system. By collecting annual membership dues from outdoor industry companies, and granting 100 percent of those dues to organizations working to protect specific wild lands and waterways throughout North America, and supplementing those grants with business advocacy, we brought outdoor industry voices and resources to bear on important efforts to protect and defend our wild places. Here are the highlights from 2017:

  • We contributed $1,559,000 to 38 organizations working to protect and restore North America’s wild places.
  • We granted another $257,000 from our new Public Lands Defense Fund to efforts to defend national monuments and core environmental laws, and to prevent the transfer of public lands to states or private ownership.
  • Our grantees delivered eight important conservation victories that: protected 157,034 acres of land and 112 river miles; acquired one climbing area; removed one dam; and prevented the sale of 82,500 acres of public land.
  • We added 35 new members.
  • We added $50,000 to The Conservation Alliance Legacy Fund, an endowment to provide a permanent source of operational funding for the Alliance. And we withdrew $150,000 from the Legacy Fund to help cover our operating budget.
  • We added seven members to our Leading Edge program, which gives individuals the opportunity to make significant contributions to The Conservation Alliance.
  • Through our advocacy program, we engaged our members in efforts to protect and defend our public lands and other special wild places.
  • We organized nine Backyard Collective events, on-the-ground stewardship projects designed to give employees of our member companies the opportunity to volunteer for our grantees.

It is our honor to serve as a connecting point between the outdoor industry and the conservation community. We look forward to another exciting year in 2018.

John Sterling

Executive Director

View and download The Conservation Alliance 2017 Annual Report

Cairn, The Gear Fix, and The Conservation Alliance Partner to Do Good with Retired Gear


Press Release

Cairn, best known for curating subscription boxes that help outdoor enthusiasts discover innovative products, announced their Gear Up, Give Back™ program, set to launch in Spring 2018. In partnership with The Gear Fix, an outdoor equipment repair and consignment shop, the program makes it easy for Cairn Subscribers, or anyone with gear to spare, to donate their retired items to benefit the preservation of wild places through The Conservation Alliance.

“The inspiration for this program came from a dilemma that both the Cairn Team and our Subscribers have shared,” said Cairn Co-Founder, Rob Little. “We get a thrill from discovering innovative new gear, which means we end up retiring some of our equipment simply because we’ve moved on to something that works better for us. We’re excited to team up with another Bend, Oregon based company, The Gear Fix, to keep retired gear out of landfills, help others get outdoors, and raise funds for a cause we believe in.”

The Gear Up, Give Back program will officially launch this spring with the inclusion of a Gear Up, Give Back Kit in every Monthly Cairn Collection. The kit will include a large polybag mailer and shipping label, which subscribers will simply fill with gear they no longer use and place it in the mail. The Gear Fix will make any necessary repairs to the items received and place them for sale in their shop. The net proceeds of each sale will be matched by Cairn and The Gear Fix and donated to The Conservation Alliance. “Our in-house repair shop can fix just about anything, so don’t throw it out or let it sit around in your garage. Send it in and let us do some good with it,” encouraged Josh Sims, owner of The Gear Fix.

The Conservation Alliance, also based in Bend, engages outdoor businesses to fund and partner with organizations to protect wild places for their habitat and recreation values. “This is a creative way to engage the outdoor community in paying it forward, both by contributing to the conservation of the wild places that they enjoy and by giving gear a second life with another outdoor enthusiast. We’re thrilled to be a part of it,” said John Sterling, Executive Director of The Conservation Alliance.

Cairn’s goal is to have Gear Up, Give Back become a permanent fixture in their business. “Our community of Subscribers are passionate about the outdoors and supporting others getting out there,” said Little. “We’re excited to see the impact that we can have together.”

Anyone with gear to spare can participate in the Gear Up, Give Back program by requesting a kit at


2017 Year in Review


We had an eventful 2017, contributing more funding than ever to conservation organizations. We responded to the shifting political landscape by hiring Kirsten Blackburn as our new Advocacy Program Manager. Kirsten hit the ground running building a program to educate our members about public lands, and to engage them on efforts to protect and defend those landscapes. We also launched the Public Lands Defense Fund, a new grant program designed to help organizations defend the integrity of our public lands system. And we worked more closely than ever with our outdoor industry members and peers to protect North America’s last wild places. Following is a summary of our grantees successes:

  1. Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument Expansion – Since 2013, we made a total of three grants to Soda Mountain Wilderness Council to double the size of the 66,000-acre Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument. In January 2017, President Obama added 48,000 acres to the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument. 42,000 acres of the monument expansion are in Southwest Oregon, and 5,000 are in California. The original 66,000-acre national monument declared in 2000 by President Bill Clinton was explicitly designated to protect the area for its biological diversity.  The expanded Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument, now 114,000 acres, protects habitat for Jenny Creek’s freshwater snail populations, rough skinned newts, kangaroo rats, pygmy nut hatches and northern spotted owls.
  1. Kalmiopsis Rivers Mineral Withdrawal – We made a total of three grants since 2013 to Klamath Siskiyou Wildlands Center to protect Rough and Ready, Baldface and Hunter Creeks from mining, and to obtain Wild and Scenic River designations and expand the Kalmiopsis Wilderness to include their watersheds. In January 2017, the Bureau of Land Management executed a 20-year mineral withdrawal for 101,021 acres in Southwest Oregon, protecting the area from any new mining activity. The area includes Rough and Ready Creek, Baldface Creek, Hunter Creek, the North Fork Pistol River and the North Fork of the Smith River. As a result, 107 river miles are now protected from the adverse impacts of new mines for 20 years while Congress considers legislation to make this action permanent.
  1. California Coastal National Monument Expansion – Since 2013 we made a total of four grants to Conservation Lands Foundation to convince President Obama to designate new national monuments in California and Oregon. In January, 2017, Obama expanded the California Coastal National Monument to include six new areas: Trinidad Head; Waluplh-Lighthouse Ranch; Lost Coast Headlands; Cotoni-Coast Dairies; Piedras Blancas; and Orange County Rocks. Members of California’s Congressional delegation led a legislative effort to expand this monument, which enjoys widespread support throughout California. Congress failed to act, leading to President Obama’s proclamation. The original monument, designated by President Bill Clinton in 2000, preserved more than 20,000 offshore islands and rocks. The expanded monument provides on-shore public access while protecting important coastal resources for current and future generations to enjoy.
  1. Denny Cove – With support from The Land Trust of Tennessee and The Conservation Fund, a group of partners led by Access Fund and Southeastern Climbers Coalition purchased Denny Cove from a private timber owner. The 685-acre Denny Cove tract is now part of South Cumberland State Park. Transferring ownership was the final step in a multi-partner, six-year effort to secure permanent protection for this climbing area 30 minutes outside Chattanooga.
  1. Yellow Dog River Community Forest – Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve acquired 688 acres of forest along the Yellow Dog River in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. The new Yellow Dog River Community Forest permanently protects public access to the Yellow Dog River, and preserves wetlands and forest for non-motorized recreation. In addition to river frontage and waterfalls, visitors can find upland mixed forests, old growth hemlock stands, granite rock outcrops, and rare plant and animal species.
  1. Elliott State Forest – We awarded Wild Salmon Center a Public Lands Defense Fund grant to build grassroots support for the Elliott State Forest. On May 9, 2017, the Oregon Public Lands Board unanimously voted to cancel the sale of the 82,500-acre Elliott State Forest to a timber company. Almost half of trees in the Elliott State Forest are more than 100 years old and have never been logged.  This popular destination for hunters and anglers remains publicly owned, and the multi-year process to determine how the forest will be managed is underway.
  1. Squire Tract, Black River Cypress Swamp Acquisition – A 150-acre old-growth cypress swamp along North Carolina’s Black River is now protected thanks to The Nature Conservancy of North Carolina. The entire acquisition, called the Squire Tract, permanently protects 410 acres for conservation and recreation. Some of the cypress trees along the Black River are more than 1700 years old. With the addition of the Squire Tract, the Black River Preserve is now more than 3,200 acres.
  1. Boardman Dam Removal – We funded Conservation Resource Alliance’s Boardman River Dams Project to remove three dams and restore 15 river miles resulting in a free flowing and reborn Boardman River.  CRA reports that they have successfully removed Boardman Dam, the second of the three dams slated for removal. CRA now turns its attention to removing Sabin Dam, the last of the three dams on the river.

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