Conservation Alliance Grantees Deliver Eight Victories

Mojave Trails National Monument, CA Photo Credit: John Dittli

In April 2015, The Conservation Alliance invested $800,000 in grassroots conservation organizations. Each grant went to a project working to secure permanent protection for a specific threatened wild place.

On April 1, we received 24 final reports from organizations funded in April, 2015, and 20 interim reports from organizations funded in October, 2015.  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 eight conservation victories, permanently protecting 2,269,892 acres, four river miles and one climbing area.

Following is a summary of the progress our grantees have made with our funding. Download the final report summaries and notable interim report summaries here.

Ambassador Spotlight: George Thoma, Athlete Sponsorship Coordinator at Clif Bar & Company

GT ERide

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 George Thoma, Athlete Sponsorship Coordinator at Clif Bar & Company. 

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

I wanted to become a Conservation Alliance ambassador to help educate Clif Bar and Company employees on all the great work the Alliance does. Through my position in sports marketing, I am exposed to a lot of their impact through my professional relationships, but not everyone at the company has as much visibility. It is really satisfying for me to share the successes of The Conservation Alliance with people in all departments of the company.

What areas of conservation are you most passionate about?

I am most passionate about preserving open space from development or being compromised by resource extractions. I feel very privileged to have grown up with a solid base of outdoor activities and I want those opportunities to remain viable for my kids and all future generations.

Favorite outdoor activity?

My favorite outdoor activity is cycling. Any bike, any place, any bike ride is a good ride. Whenever I can, I like to link up roads and trails to make for a nice long day in the saddle exploring the wild areas just outside of the city.

Favorite Wilderness or National Park?

Being a Clif Bar ambassador for The Conservation Alliance has really allowed me to combine two of my biggest passions – the outdoors and endurance sports. As such, my favorite Wilderness and Parks are tied to athletic endeavors there. I have a strong connection to Zion National Park after a 14 hour run/hike from one end of the park to the other. I also fell in love with the Sawtooth Mountains in Idaho after a weeklong mountain bike trip to the area. Those two places have lots of great memories not just because of their uniqueness and beauty, but because of the great adventures I had.

Most eye opening experience for the need of conservation.

I don’t have one specific galvanizing moment, but I volunteer at my daughter’s school as a garden docent, and seeing the kids interact with the land has been a powerful experience. It has shown me how important a connection to nature is for understanding ourselves and the impact we have on the greater system surrounding us. I hope, through the work of The Conservation Alliance, we can continue to protect precious outdoor monuments so they may be ready for the kids of today to explore once they move past the school yard garden.

End Quote: Words of motivation to get others inspired.

Do what you can and be proud to know you are making a difference. We all support conservation in many different personal ways, and they are all valuable. Most of all, get outside and visit some of these places we are all working to save, then try to imagine a world without them.

Save the Date! The Conservation Alliance Breakfast with Florian Schulz

Beaufort Sea, Alaska. Photo: Florian Schulz

The Conservation Alliance Breakfast
Thursday, August 4, 7-9 AM
The Marriott, Salons F-I, Salt Lake City

The Wild Edge: Freedom to Roam the Pacific Coast

A Presentation by Photographer Florian Schulz

Florian Schulz is a conservation photographer and advocate for the preservation of wild habitat. Florian immerses himself in an environment for several weeks at a time, studying wildlife behavior and interaction. His multi-media presentation weaves stories and images from his new book The Wild Edge, which reveals the great Pacific seam of North America. From the Baja peninsula through the coves and breaks of California and the bays and inlets of the Pacific Northwest, to the deep forests of British Columbia and the icy realm of polar bears in the Beaufort Sea of Alaska, the west coast of North America provides a life-sustaining corridor of great energy. Florian’s photographs have appeared in international publications, including National Geographic, BBC Wildlife, and GEO. The Conservation Alliance Breakfast is open to the public, so please bring a friend.

Arrive tired, leave inspired!

Breaking News! President Obama Designates Three National Monuments in California

Hiker in the Mojave Trails National Monument Photo: John Dittli

President Obama has designated three new national monuments, protecting roughly 1.8 million acres of BLM land in the California Desert. The three monuments will connect Death Valley and Joshua Tree National Parks and the Mojave National Preserve to create the second largest protected landscape in the world. With this action, Obama has now preserved more acres of land and water than any other President.

The largest of the three is Mojave Trails National Monument, a 1.6-million-acre matrix of land along 100 miles of historic Route 66 that protects wildlife corridors between Death Valley and Joshua Tree. Sand to Snow National Monument preserves 154,000 acres between Joshua Tree National Park and the San Bernardino National Forest, and includes 24 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail. The 20,920-acre Castle Mountains National Monument preserves a ridge of desert peaks and rare grasslands roughly 100 miles south of Las Vegas, Nevada.

After years of trying to move legislation through a dysfunctional Congress, California Senator Dianne Feinstein asked President Obama to use his authority under the Antiquities Act to protect the desert landscapes. Since 2008, The Conservation Alliance made a total of seven grants to California Wilderness Coalition and Conservation Lands Foundation for their efforts to secure protection for these lands. Both organizations played a key role in building local support for the protections, and guiding the project to success. We thank Senator Feinstein and President Obama for their leadership in protecting this important landscape.

President Obama has indicated his interest in protecting additional landscapes before he leaves office. The Conservation Alliance and our grantees will work hard throughout the year to demonstrate outdoor business support for saving these special places. We will keep you posted!

Meanwhile, please check out good stories in the Los Angeles Times and Washington Post for full details on our newest national monuments.

President Obama: Please Protect the Grand Canyon’s Watershed

Photo:  Pete McBride

At The Conservation Alliance Breakfast, over 250 people signed the postcard below asking President Obama to designate the Greater Grand Canyon Heritage National Monument.  In April 2016, The Conservation Alliance  Board of Directors and staff will hand deliver these postcards to the Obama Administration.

Show your support for the protection of the Grand Canyon’s Watershed!  Send an email with the subject line “Protect the Grand Canyon” to Josie (at) and we’ll write your information on a postcard and deliver it for you.


Ambassador Profile: Obi Kaufmann, Chief Storyteller at Juniper Ridge

Hall and Obi (wilderness perfumers) from Juniper Ridge, and Sara Husby, Tuleyome's campaign director

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

I’ve been hiking with Hall Newbegin, the guy who started Juniper Ridge, for nearly ten years. Hall, and for that matter, Juniper Ridge, have really opened me up to a deeper inner voice; an activist voice. Juniper Ridge has, since its inception, donated 10% of whatever profits it has made to defending western wilderness. It’s part of our core mission. The Conservation Alliance is a really wonderful nexus and a truly convenient utility towards this vision of unifying commercial and conservationist efforts.

What local conservation projects are you involved in?

After the designation of the Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument, we land-conservationists across the west are involved in raising awareness about a number of big prizes we’d like to see locked up with federal protection before the Obama administration becomes history. I am very excited about the Mojave Trails National Monument, part of Senator Feinstein’s proposed Desert Protection Act: these sensitive habitats between the Mojave Preserve and the Joshua National Park deserve the broadest kind of federal protection. The Central Coast Heritage Act, another prime candidate, would do so much for the creation of the Condor Trail, and shore up a big, blank corner of this paradisaical, Californian backcountry. Of course, there is also the Owyhee. I love dreaming of this plateau desert in Southeastern Oregon (what is apparently the darkest part of the country at night,) the Owyhee is the biggest prize across what is left to protect in the west, and remains vulnerable without this dire, protective legislation.

Where would you like to see The Alliance another 25 years from now?

25 years is a long time in the west. With the coming of the unpredictable effects of climate change, and the rising population desperately in need of improved, ecological energy sources (than say dams, or earth-extracted fuel sources,) I see the fight becoming more harder. I would like to see the Alliance reaching towards a younger demographic with a message of preservation, hope and opportunity. And I would like to see more small business involved in the movement. The New Conservationism is an everyday thing; I see the Alliance making head-roads into all manner of commercialism, so much so, that some day soon, every purchase that everyone makes here in the west might have a component of wilderness defense it in.

What areas of conservation are you most passionate about?

Land conservation; Habitat preservation and restoration; Plant regime change by invasive species. Biodiversity is key. Biodiversity is strength. Biodiversity is ecological health. Only by leaving alone, and roadless, great expanses of the west, can we maintain a vestige of our historical biodiversity; even in light of the dying of unprecedented numbers of species, on a global level, in the 21st century.

What is your favorite outdoor activity?

Although I am not a fan of roads in my backcountry, I do believe people need to regularly go to the wilderness. Preferably on foot. There is power there. For me, backpacking and hiking are akin to something sacred: a connection with something deeper and bigger than myself. I was never much of a peak-bagger or any other kind of adrenaline junkie. I paint intuitive landscapes in watercolor journals that I pack around with me. You can check out my work on Instagram where I’ve taken over the hashtag #trailpaintings with my name @coyotethunder.

Do you have a favorite Wilderness Area or National Park?

I grew up in the High Sierra… I am going to go with the Desolation Wilderness as my favorite. Just west of Lake Tahoe, It is home to me. Ragged and wonderful granite landscapes that seem to me what heaven must be like. That all being said, I couldn’t imagine not enjoying the vast wilderness of San Jacinto, or the Condor skyways of the Ventana near Big Sur. Or of course, the headwaters of the Eel, down from the Klamath mountains deep in the redwood forests. All these places continually pull at my heart when I am woefully trapped in front of a damn computer for too long.

In what areas would you like to see more efforts to support wilderness conservation?

I would like to see the living story of the wilderness more in our daily lives. I see a day when all manner of commercial transaction may ripple towards giving back to the wild lands we collectively acknowledge as part of our core, American character. I believe rampant, mindless consumerism will inevitably pass into an economic system of ecological, social-systems. Our inner-duty, as citizens of the west, will call upon us to look more towards the consequences of waste and a new normal will develop, where we look at the entirety of this place as our singular home, and many of our contemporary habits are rejected as poison for the larger network. I don’t think it’s a pipe-dream; with the right branding, excellent storytelling, bold leadership, and vast, vigilant campaigns of wilderness education, the course of the river can change. Customers dictate the market… Look at how ubiquitous organic foods have become, or even simply, the rise of the now-common word “sustainable.”

How about an End Quote: Words of motivation to get others inspired. 

I wrote this today on Instagram @coyotethunder:

“Between bliss and rage eternal, for passion born again of this place, these hallowed lands; the good love I carry for these arid wildscapes, feeding my endless appetites, merely with simple breath do I float and aspire; well fed, open and true.”


Ambassador Spotlight: Caroleigh Pierce, Outreach Manager at Klean Kanteen


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 Caroleigh Pierce, Outreach Manager at Klean Kanteen in Chico, CA. Caroleigh was one of the first ambassadors to join our ambassador program. In addition to being an internal advocate for The Conservation Alliance, she demonstrates her commitment to our organization by organizing fundraising events at Outdoor Retailer. She will also be joining us for lobby training in Washington, DC in April, 2016. 

What made you want to be an Ambassador for The Conservation Alliance?
My work as the Outreach Manager at Klean Kanteen the past few years has really reconnected me with my love of the natural world. When I learned about the opportunity to be a part of the Conservation Alliance and use my personal and business voice to have an impact on policy and conservation, I jumped at the chance. I am so proud to be a part of this network of brands that are committed to support policies and fund projects that are protecting the places we live and play.

What areas of conservation are you most passionate about?
I’m passionate about balance. Restoration, conservation and access all have their place in our country and in our future. Although I know how vital it is to get people out doors to get and stay connected, I love the thought of keeping some places wild and untouched by humans. We don’t need to touch it to know it’s there.

Favorite outdoor activity?
Right now I’m loving being a day hiker. My husband and I have made a commitment to get outside more without the toys and slow down a bit so we can use all of our senses to take it all in. I’ve made a bucket list of National Parks and beautiful spaces recommended by friends and family in this amazing country that I want to experience. We hiked Zion after summer OR this past August and it was amazing. I think I found a new post-OR tradition!

Favorite Wilderness or National Park?
Plumas National Forest has always been my family playground; summers at Lake Almanor and winters at our family cabin in LaPorte, Ca. It’s where I caught my first trout, sled down my first snow-covered hill, fell in love with the smell of pine trees mixed with campfire, and saw more stars than I could ever count.

Most eye opening experience for the need of conservation.
In my role at Klean Kanteen I’ve been able to travel and see some incredible places over the past few years. I’ve also been witness to plastic pollution and the effects it creates on the ecosystem including rivers that flow backwards filled with fish that we can’t eat and struggle to reproduce because they are so toxic. This summer I participated in an expedition with The 5 Gyres Institute sailing from the Bahamas to Bermuda. I experienced the most incredible beaches and water in shades of blue I’ve never seen before. Every place we visited and every sample we tested had plastic present. This solidified my commitment to protecting these places. The places we have been before and those where we long to go.

End Quote: Words of motivation to get others inspired.
We all have a role and a voice in conservation. We bring to the table a unique set of skills to contribute to the conversation and help create change. Find your passion, your purpose, your place in protecting these wild and wonderful places.

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