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The Taku Watershed Campaign

September 19, 2014 by Serena Bishop

The Taku is the largest totally intact watershed on the Pacific coast of North America. The 4.5 million acre river system sprawls across the northwest corner of British Columbia, its many tributaries converging to form the main stem of the Taku, which pours across Alaska's border and becomes ocean just south of Juneau.  It's no coincidence that this spectacularly wild, virtually pristine international river system - linking interior boreal uplands, verdant temperate and rain forest valleys, and a rich marine estuary -- is one of the continent's premier salmon strongholds.  The Taku is in fact southeast Alaska's number one salmon producer.  In a time of accelerating climate change and dwindling biodiversity, the ecological value of the Taku's diverse and interconnected mountain-to-sea ecosystem, with all native flora and fauna in place and thriving, can hardly be overstated.  Here is one of our planet's premier biological refugias.  Indigenous people on both sides of the border maintain profound cultural connections to the Taku and its bounty of fish and wildlife.  To wilderness adventurers and paddlers, the Taku is a wild and storied destination.  The watershed is, in short, an amazing conservation opportunity. 

The Taku is an opportunity because it's at a crossroads, with its fate yet to be determined. No vast expenditures for habitat restoration are needed here.  All that's required for the Taku is humility and foresight to keep the watershed as is.  But mining has been proposed near the juncture of the Tulsequah River and the main stem Taku, on the Canadian side very close to the Alaska border. The extremely controversial Tulsequah Chief mine would be sited immediately upstream of the most important salmon spawning and rearing habitat in the entire river system, putting it at risk.  A tailings impoundment failure, like British Columbia's recent Mount Polley mine disaster, would be devastating.  And the stakes are bigger than the mine itself, for if Tulsequah Chief goes forward, a hundred mile road to serve it would be constructed into Taku wilderness, bringing more mining and related development with it.

Rivers Without Borders is striving to keep the Taku wild.  We are doing this by elevating awareness of the watershed's extraordinary conservation values, cultivating an international conversation about the future of this international river, organizing mining opposition, and publicizing numerous technical, economic, and legal obstacles to the Tulsequah Chief project.  For the past six years we have been doing this in partnership with The Conservation Alliance, and we are grateful for this crucial and steadfast support. 

Photo at top: Flannigan Slough - Prime salmon habitat; just upstream of the British Columbia - Alaska border on the Taku River, and downstream from the confluence of the Tulsequah and Taku Rivers. Photo courtesy of Chris Miller - June 2013. 

Photo above: Looking downstream on the Tulsequah River. The proposed Tulsequah Chief mine site is center left on the banks of the river. The airstrip and borrow pit are in the foreground. The tailings impoundment would be built on a flood plain in the lower left corner out of view. The confluence with the Taku River is in the upper right. Photo courtesy of Chris Miller - June 2013.  

Keen and Oregon Wild Raise Money for Crater Lake Wilderness

September 12, 2014 by Serena Bishop
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Earlier this year, we funded the Oregon Wild Crater Lake Wilderness Campaign with a $35,000 grant. Oregon Wild is working to permanently protect more than 500,000 acres of Wilderness in the backcountry of Crater Lake National Park and in the surrounding roadless wildlands that form the headwaters of iconic Rogue, Klamath, and Umpqua rivers in Oregon. According to Oregon Wild, "Oregon still lags far behind its neighbors with only 4% of our state protected as Wilderness -- compared to 15% of California, 10% of Washington, and 8% of Idaho."

To help Oregon Wild raise money for the Crater Lake Wilderness Campaign, Keen is donating a free pair of boots or shoes to anyone who joins with a monthly gift of $10 or more. Keen is a current Pinnacle Member of The Conservation Alliance, and we're proud to see them working directly with a local grantee. 

To learn more about the significant threat currently facing Oregon's only national park, or to make a donation toward the Crater Lake Wilderness Campaign, visit oregonwild.org

Oregon Wild was awarded 12 grants from The Conservation Alliance starting in 1993, for a total of $338,200.  

350 Volunteers Join the Portland Backyard Collective

September 09, 2014 by Serena Bishop
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We held our fourth Backyard Collective event of 2014 on Thursday, August 21, in Portland, Oregon. The sun was shining bright as more than 350 volunteers participated with employee representatives from our member companies, including: Columbia, Icebreaker, Jam Media Collective, Merrell, Nau, Noto Group, REI, The North Face, and Yakima

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After the hard work was complete, volunteers enjoyed lunch and participated in the volunteer fair. They learned how to get involved with local Conservation Alliance grantees Oregon Wild, WaterWatch, and Wild Salmon Center, as well as other local organizations Forest Park Conservancy, Friends of the Columbia Gorge, Friends of Tryon Creek, Hoyt Arboretum, Human Access Project, Johnson Creek Watershed Council, Portland Parks Foundation, and SOLV.

 "At Yakima, connecting with our community and the environment is at the center of both our work and play," said Summer Henderson, Global Marketing Manager at Yakima Products, Inc.  "We hike and bike these trails everyday and our partnership with The Conservation Alliance gives us a meaningful way to have our employees give back. We're very grateful for their invaluable work and leadership."

"The group of volunteers that we worked with in Forest Park had an extremely productive morning, cutting back 1.91 miles of plants growing into the trail and removing approximately 1,000 square feet of English ivy." Said Lucy Cohen from the Forest Park Conservancy. 

undefinedEchoing these sentiments was Heather Wilkinson from Hoyt Arboretum, one of the other work sites for the group.  "Today there were 59 volunteers enhancing the beauty and accessibility of the Magnolia Collection at the Hoyt Arboretum. That's especially important since it is one of our most viewed collections when people come to visit from all over the world.  Volunteers worked tirelessly to spread 12 yards of mulch; widen and cleared trails; cleaned out more than four truckloads of brush; and of course pulled out a swath of the ubiquitous ivy.  To sum up: Backyard Collective volunteers ROCK!" she said.

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There are two more Backyard Collective events left in 2014. If you live near Bend or Boulder and would like to participate, please contact Brook Hopper at brook@conservationalliance.com, or 805-340-5034.

 

 

 

Feature Friday

September 05, 2014 by Tuleyome
"This spectacular site is a treasure which should be protected for us, our children, and our children's children." - Carrie in Davis CA  ... Read More

The Wilderness Act Turns 50

September 03, 2014 by Serena Bishop
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The Wilderness Preservation Act was signed into law exactly 50 years ago today. This anniversary is making headlines across the country, as it is a day for all outdoor enthusiasts to take a moment and reflect on the legacy made possible by the Wilderness Act.  

To prepare you for this exciting day, we have compiled a list of important facts and resources about the Wilderness Act and the state of wilderness today.

Wilderness: The Act, Facts and Resources

1.      Experience this historic event by listening to the audio recording of President Lyndon B. Johnson as he signs the Wilderness Preservation Act into law on September 3, 1964. (Hint:  For maximum wilderness education, start playing this recording before continuing on to #2)

2.      The definition of wilderness, as outlined in the Wilderness Act, is:  "A wilderness, in contrast with those areas where man and his own works dominate the landscape, is hereby recognized as an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain."

3.      The longest time period without the addition of new wilderness began in 2009 and ended on March 4, 2014 with the designation of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in Michigan.

4.      Steward Brandborg is one of the last surviving witnesses to the creation and passing of the Wilderness Act into law. Read a recent interview with Brandborg here.

5.      There are currently two dozen wilderness bills, totaling two million acres, stalled in Congress.

6.      109.5 million acres in 44 states have been designated as wilderness since the Wilderness Act was signed in 1964.

7.      5% of the land in the United States is currently designated as wilderness.

8.      Find a wilderness area near you using this interactive map.

9.      The Omnibus Public Land Management Act passed in 2009, and included 160 wilderness bills rolled into one piece of legislation, allowing the designation of 2 million acres of wilderness in nine states.

10.   Howard Zahniser, the primary author of the Wilderness Act, died of a heart attack two weeks before it was signed into law. Learn more about Zahniser in this extensive biography posted yesterday by the Wilderness Society. 

 

Outdoor Businesses Urge Congress to Take Action

September 03, 2014 by Serena Bishop
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Today, on the 50th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act, every member of Congress received two letters signed by 149 outdoor businesses urging them to take action.

The first letter asks Congress to act on the many Wilderness and public land bills that have been introduced, but are languishing in committee. It expresses strong support for the Wilderness Act, which preserves landscapes that are important to outdoor customers and the 6.1 million American jobs supported by the industry.

The second letter expresses strong support for full, dedicated funding and reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). Enacted by Congress in 1964, LWCF provides up to $900 million annually to purchase land, water and wetlands for the benefit of all Americans.

60 of the businesses who signed these letters are members of The Conservation Alliance. Thank you to our members, and to everyone who demonstrated support for these two important conservation laws!

This image is courtesy of whitehouse.gov

You Can Help AMC Protect White Cap Mountain

September 02, 2014 by Appalachian Mountain Club
Deep in the Maine Woods is a remote mountainous area known as the 100-Mile Wilderness. The term has become the de facto name for this 1-million-acre region, but few people know that the term was first used as a warning about the remoteness of the area. It was a warning not just for casual visitors, but for long-distance hikers thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail. Unlike much of the Appalachian Trail on which a hiker comes across public roads or towns every few days, this stretch of trail from Monson to Abol Bridge Campground – about 100 miles--crosses neither. Hikers – even experienced ones – must carry everything they need for seven to 10 days of remote backpacking without resupply. Seen on a map, the region is roughly book-ended by two of Maine’s most iconic natural features: Moosehead Lake – Maine’s largest -- to the southwest, and Katahdin-- Maine’s highest mountain --... Read More

A Tour of the White Clouds

August 27, 2014 by Serena Bishop
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I am a conservationist and I am a mountain biker. I believe in the protection of public land for recreation and habitat, and for the beautiful silence witnessed in these wild places. I believe in the collaboration between diverse stakeholders to make sure these wild places are protected for generations to come.

The first week in July, I was honored to join representatives from International Mountain Bicycling AssociationOutdoor AllianceWestern Spirit CyclingBig Woods Bicycle Coalition, and Club Ride Apparel for two amazing days of mountain biking in the White Cloud Mountains, an area, which if designated by President Obama, will be permanently protected as the Boulder-White Clouds National Monument.  

The region is one of the last, largest under-protected roadless landscapes in the lower 48 states and supports all types of recreational opportunities. The Boulder-White Clouds offer world-class backcountry experiences including hunting and fishing, hiking, mountain biking, skiing, horseback riding and off-road motorized use. As a whole, the Boulder-White Clouds form a large connected drainage that delivers clean water to wildlife, fisheries and human communities near-by. 

The weekend of riding in the White Clouds represented an amazing, yet diverse, group of people, coming together with a common goal; to protect and recreate in an area important to each of us. We encountered a few backpackers and horse packers, we praised the trail clearing efforts of motor-bikes, and we rode for hours without seeing any one. We were in a remote area, difficult to access and surrounded by majestic beauty - and we left behind only a few tire tracks and took with us only memories and photographs. 

Protection for the Boulder-White Clouds has been in the works for close to 40 years - a campaign led in large part by the Idaho Conservation League, a Conservation Alliance grantee and Idaho's leading voice in conservation.  The Conservation Alliance profiles the work of ICL in "{WorthWild} Boulder White Clouds". Watch it here

The Boulder-White Clouds National Monument, when designated as such, will represent an amazing collaboration between diverse stakeholders; groups of people with varying interests, coming together to protect a place that is important to each of them - to preserve this pristine landscape and ensure that is it used wisely and left intact for our children and grandchildren.

Portland BYC #1: KEEN

August 22, 2014 by Serena Bishop
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The Conservation Alliance community came together to get their hands dirty last week in the first Portland Backyard Collective event of the year. KEEN volunteers took over the city for a day of stewardship and made a huge impact on the landscape. Thank you, KEEN, for your long-lasting commitment to The Conservation Alliance to your local community. Here's summary of the event from our ambassador, Kirsten:

KEEN Headquarters closed last Friday, August 15th.  We spent the day in our backyard, volunteering as an organization, and working to fulfil our promise of building a stronger community and a healthier planet. undefinedOur longtime Hybrid.Care partner and good friends at the Conservation Alliance helped us get our ducks in a row, lining up adequate volunteer opportunities and working next to us on the trail.  We were lucky to alThe day concluded at Wallace Park, a few blocks from the office.  Kickball games ensued, food trucks served up delicious sandwiches, tacos, and organic shaved ice, and more than a few local beers were consumed.  What a great way to spend a Friday and just one more reason I'm proud to be a part of this team.so have Oregon Natural Desert Association -Hybrid.Care partner and Conservation Alliance grantee - there working hard next to us as well.  The two wonderful organizations educated our employees about our partnership, the importance of conservation, and opportunities to continue stewardship in their personal lives.

Post ‘Bagel Friday',  yellow school buses picked us all up from work and dropped us off at two volunteer sites around Portland.  We were honored to spend the morning volunteering with our local Hybrid.Care partner, Forest Park Conservancy, where we pulled invasive English ivy and used loppers to cut it into biodegradable pieces and cut back vegetation on two miles of the Wildwood trail.  The rest of the KEEN team worked with Portland Public Schools to give some attention to King Elementary school grounds.  The teams planted and weeded outside, stamped new library books, sanded and painted lockers, and spruced up the place before the kiddos return.

 

 

 

Celebrating 25 Years of Conservation

August 15, 2014 by Serena Bishop

Did you know The Conservation Alliance was founded by four companies in 1989 at the San Francisco airport? Learn more about the history and accomplishments of The Conservation Alliance from our friends in the Outdoor Industry and grantees working to protect our wild places.

In the last 25 years, 42 milion acres and 2,825 river miles became permanently protected, five marine reserves were designated, nine clibming areas were acquired and 26 dams were halted or removed thanks to the support of our members and for the hard work of our grantees. We're very grateful for all of the people who made this posible.  Thank you, and we look forward to the next 25 years! 

This video was produced by Ryan Hanlon from Route3Films.