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WildSouth Reports an Important Step Toward Wilderness Protection

April 15, 2014 by Serena Bishop

On Tuesday, the U.S. Senate's Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee passed the Tennessee Wilderness Act of 2013. This legislation would create one new wilderness area and expand the boundaries of five other wilderness areas already established within the Cherokee National Forest.

The act now awaits a floor vote in the Senate and introduction in the House of Representatives.

The Tennessee Wilderness Act was first introduced by U.S. Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker in 2010 after measures spelled out in the legislation were recommended by the U.S. Forest Service in 2004. The senators reintroduced the act in July. 

"Tennesseans take great pride in the fact that millions of people visit our state every year to experience our incredible God-given outdoors, and this legislation would ensure the Cherokee National Forest is preserved for future generations," Corker said Tuesday. "I thank Senator Alexander for his lifelong commitment to protecting wilderness areas, and I'm hopeful the full Senate will consider and pass this legislation in the near future."

To learn more, click here.

Photo: Bill Hodge 

Favorites on Friday: Winter 2014 Grant Announcement

April 11, 2014 by Serena Bishop

 Thank you for your interest in and support of The Conservation Alliance. We are pleased to annouce the results of our Winter 2014 funding cycle.  We have contributed $750,000 to the 22 organizations listed below.  In 2014 we plan to award a record $1.65 million in grants.  Many great conservation opportunities lie ahead, and we're pleased to be able to support these important initiatives.

Click to view the details of all 22 grants.


Click to view the details of all 22 grants. 


Oregon's Wilderness Deficit

April 10, 2014 by Oregon Wild
The 2009 passage of the Omnibus Public Lands Act marked a significant Wilderness victory in Oregon. In the ten-plus years leading up to its passage, Oregon Wild (with support from the Conservation Alliance) developed and led a coalition of conservationists in a campaign to protect special places across Oregon. Through partnering with local businesses, conservation organizations, and dedicated activists, we finally achieved the permanent protection of over 200,000 acres of Wilderness and dozens of miles of Wild & Scenic Rivers – from Mount Hood to Copper Salmon and from Soda Mountain to the Columbia River Gorge. However, Oregon still faces a significant Wilderness deficit and lags far behind our neighbors in protecting Wilderness areas – with only 4% of our state enjoying Wilderness designation (compared to Idaho’s 8%, Washington’s 10%, and California’s 15%).... Read More

Take Action Tuesday: The Nooksack River, A True Wild and Scenic River. Take Action to Get Her on the Map!

April 08, 2014 by Serena Bishop

The Nooksack River is a shiny gem tucked away in the North Cascades near the Canadian border. The Nooksack River system is home to all five species of native Pacific salmon, steelhead, bull trout, bald eagles, black bears, mountain goats, and many other native fish and wildlife species that need intact, wild places to survive.

The Nooksack is also the lifeblood for the local communities relying on the river for clean drinking and irrigation water and for tourism income from visitors drawn to the river's world class whitewater boating, hiking, skiing, and other recreation opportunities.

A great deal of support for protecting the Nooksack currently exists; however, Wild and Scenic River legislation does not yet exist. We are hard at work to increase public and political support in order to make that a reality in the near future.

Click here to TAKE ACTION and protect the Nooksack River as Wild and Scenic

To learn more about the Nooksack River and American Rivers work to protect it, click here. 

Photo: Rick Bower 

Window on the Lake: Kick-starting the economy

April 08, 2014 by Tuleyome
 Window on the Lake: Kick-starting the economy Reader's Views OPINION COLUMN: Window on the Lake: Kick-starting the economy By Jim Steele -- Updated:   04/01/2014 Lake County's special uniqueness among the other 57 counties is its ecologically unique, warm water natural lake. We are also isolated from major transportation routes and have a rugged picturesque and geologically active landscape such as Mount Konocti. This is coupled with genuine old west towns, museums and beautiful agri-tourism venues all in close proximity to major population areas. How can all of this help our local economies? We have many economic engines but promoting a destination tourist economy is a natural for local business. Much of the needed infrastructure is in place with trails, parks, and natural wonders. Wouldn't it be nice to have visitors' spending money here on vacation and returning home as they do in the Sierra Nevada playground? With more stores,... Read More

Favorites on Friday: Yellowstone to Yukon is Bridging the Gap to Stop Site C Campaign

April 04, 2014 by Serena Bishop

A guest post by Renee Krysko, Yellowstone to Yukon

Rural Impact. Urban Voters. Bridging the Gap.

Stop Site C Campaign

Twice the size of California, British Columbia is a sizable Canadian province.  And in a province where more than half the population resides in greater Vancouver and Victoria in the south, it's easy for northern, more rural issues to go unnoticed.

Perhaps that was what BC Hydro was banking on when it re-activated an old proposal to build a third hydro-electric dam, called Site C, on the Peace River some 600 miles (1,000 km) away from these urban centers. (Click for more information)

undefinedSo far removed from Vancouver or Victoria, there was no public outcry when the dam was proposed. Few people understood that the $8 billion dollar project would skyrocket their electric bills, and that the dam would result in the destruction of some of B.C.'s best agricultural land, pose a serious threat to wildlife mobility at the narrowest point in the Yellowstone to Yukon corridor and alter a way of life for many native communities.


Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative (Y2Y), however, helped bridge the gap.

With the support of Conservation Alliance, we launched a media campaign focused on broadening awareness of the dam and its impacts on everyday people - including those living in urban centres. Local, provincial and national media covered the intense unfolding of the environmental assessment public hearings in December 2013 and January 2013, including the breadth of opposition to the dam and a science report on the dam's impact on wildlife that Y2Y commissioned.

We've captured some of the media highlights below. To read the full article, please click on the article title:

(Vancouver Sun)

Site C panel chairman exasperated by mountains of BC Hydro documents

Harry Swain said panel members said, "I can't stand it. I've read more material here than you could believe," he said. "The EIS (environmental impact statement) and its supporting documents are many times longer than the Bible. And the plot is not as good, nor is the language."


David Suzuki Foundation argues Site C would cause "irrevocable ecological harm"
...the report confirms that the cumulative effects on the region where the Site C dam would be located are "significant" and "unprecedented" in Canada, and going ahead the project would only worsen them.

(Times Colonist)

Peace is priceless, Site C hearing told

Doig Councillor Kelvin Davis said he took his grandson out on his first moose hunt a week ago..."We prepared it, skinned it, but when we opened up the cavity, this moose was unhealthy," said Davis. "It had cysts on its lungs, on its liver. It broke my heart for my grandson to shoot his first moose, and have to leave everything."


Cumulative effects of development like Site C could be detrimental to some wildlife
Wildlife biologist Dr. Clayton Apps has concluded that some wildlife population in the Peace Region may not be viable or recoverable in the future due to the cumulative effects of resource development, including the Site C dam. 

(The Province) 

News update - Food security and energy security at issue at Site C hearings
"If BC Hydro's dam on Site C gets built, precious alluvial soils in a class one climate capable of producing fresh vegetables for over one million British Columbians in perpetuity will be destroyed forever," says agrologist Wendy Holm.
According to the BC Hydro Site C website, however, the dam will produce enough clean energy to power 450,000 homes per year in B.C.

(Times Colonist)

Photo at Top: Larry Peterson

Photo at Left: Sarah Cox 

Take Action Tuesday: The Infamous Stringdusters Let It Go Tour, Guest Post by Travis Book

April 01, 2014 by Serena Bishop

The Infamous Stringdusters are currenty on their Let It Go Tour, and speading the good work of The Conservation Alliance and our grantees along the way.  

A lyric from the album's title track rings true to one of the Stingduster's core beliefs... "If you think you can make a difference and the fire is in your soul, go ahead and take your stand and if you can't, let it go."

The Stingdusters are making a difference.  They are fired up to benefit The Conservation Alliance with the Let It Go Album Release tour. From every ticket AND every copy of Let It Go sold, they are donating $1.00 to The Conservation Alliance. Our friends at Keen and Klean Kanteen are standing up with the Stingdusters, and joining them on the road to help raise funds for the Alliance and awareness of the dangers facing our natural wonders and resources.

Today we share a guest post by Stringduster Travis Book.......... 

I've been a Stringduster for almost a decade, but I've been an outdoorsman since birth. Early on, my father made it a priority to get outdoors. Our property butted up against National Forest and we had a spot, up the creek, where we'd sit, each on our own flat rock, and watch the light fade. At some point, just before the light failed, we'd race back to the house for dinner. 8 years in a row we spent New Years at the bottom of the Grand Canyon and every year at Spring Break we'd pack up the bikes and head to Moab. Now that I'm a father, (of one-year old Ruby) I'm beginning to truly realize the value of that early indoctrination. Ruby, just like her father, prefers life outdoors. Nothing matches the contentment she exhibits when I drop her into a backpack and take a long walk through the woods, her soft, incessant humming and the crunching of twigs and leaves under my Targhee II's the only sounds.  

undefinedI'm fortunate to live near the Appalachain Trail, the George Washington National Forest and the Priest Wilderness, but many, if not most, people in the US, particularly the eastern US, live far from large, protected open spaces. Preservation for preservation sake can be a tough sell in our capitalist society, so the Conservation Alliance model of engaging business to preserve and protect open space by highlighting the economic as well as aesthetic values is as pragmatic as it is practical. For many, the collision of business and conservation is an uncomfortable space and the Stringdusters can relate; no one likes their art mixed up with profit. However, putting aside preconceptions about conservation ideals and focusing on finding new ways to conserve and protect open space will, I believe, lead to more preservation, and ultimately, result in more protected spaces.

For our Let It Go tour, we saw an opportunity to bring attention to and raise some funds for our first love; the outdoors. Each one of us engages with the outdoors in our own unique way, but universally, the five of us and everyone on our crew and in our office places outdoor experiences at the top of our priority list. We are skiers, cyclists, hikers, fisherman, boaters, climbers, runners, snowboarders, swimmers, and campers but we're none of these things without places to do them. Fresh air, clean water, and places to enjoy them, if we can help with that in any way, we're on board and we know our fans are too. Attend an Infamous Stringdusters show this spring and help The Conservation Alliance support grassroots environmental organizations and their efforts to protect wild places where outdoor enthusiasts recreate, simply by buying a ticket! You'll have an amazing time, and meet some like-minded outdoor-lovers while you're at it. 

Editorial: Nudge Congress to act on public lands bills

March 29, 2014 by Tuleyome
Editorial: Nudge Congress to act on public lands bills By the Editorial Board Published: Saturday, Mar. 29, 2014 - 12:00 am   Pia Lopez / The view from Berryessa Peak. The 100-mile stretch from Lake Berryessa to Snow Mountain has been proposed for National Conservation Area Status.     Until earlier this month, Congress hadn’t acted to protect a single new acre of public land as a national park, national conservation area or wilderness area since 2009. This congressional failure is not for lack of opportunity. A report by the advocacy groups Center for American Progress and Center for Western Priorities highlights 10 high-profile conservation bills, including two on federal public lands in California, that have languished despite strong backing at the local level and from members of Congress. Following President Barack Obama’s March 11 proclamation adding the 1,660-acre Point Arena-Stornetta Public Lands along the Mendocino coast to the... Read More

Favorites on Friday: Santa Barbara Backyard Collective Kicks Off the Season in Style

March 28, 2014 by Serena Bishop

The Conservation Alliance kicked off the 2014 Backyard Collective season last week in Santa Barbara, CA. On Thursday, March 20, The Conservation Alliance and local member companies teamed up with Channel Islands Restoration to organize a day of environmental stewardship activities in the San Marcos Foothills Preserve.

More than 150 volunteers came together to work alongside other member company employees from Patagonia, Deckers Outdoor, Horny Toad, and REI. Volunteers worked with local nonprofit Channel Islands Restoration, impressing Ken Owens, their Executive Director "These volunteers provided invaluable service to the San Marcos Foothills by removing many thousands of non-native plants and helping us plant native flora" he said "Having so many people help out for several hours has an almost incalculable positive effect on this open space."

undefinedNot only does the Backyard Collective accomplish great things for local conservation efforts, but it brings together people from companies that normally compete against each other to put that aside for the day to focus on an issue that's bigger than each of them individually,  "Deckers is pleased to collaborate with our fellow outdoor companies through the Backyard Collective event," said Mark Heintz, Director of Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability for Deckers Outdoor Corporation and current board member of The Conservation Alliance. "I think we all recognize the importance of this work for future generations as well as for the simple business fact that our customers use our brands' products in these open space and wilderness areas."

Following the stewardship work, Conservation Alliance grantees, including Environmental Defense Center, Los Padres ForestWatch and California Wilderness Coalition, teamed up with local organizations Santa Barbara Mountain Bike Trail Volunteers and Santa Barbara Channelkeeper for a lunch-time volunteer fair to present additional information to the employees, providing ideas on how they can continue to spend time giving back to their local community, "Patagonia is excited to be partnering with other local outdoor companies, all members of the Conservation Alliance, to restore and protect local habitats," said Hans Cole, Environmental Campaigns and Advocacy Manager at Patagonia, and Conservation Alliance board member. "This event gives us a unique opportunity to put our citizen activism beliefs into action. We're so glad we can give employees volunteer hours to participate and give back to the community and environment."

These employee volunteer projects also provide benefits to the morale of participating organizations, as well as highlighting why many of us live in the Santa Barbara area.

Gordon Seabury, CEO of Santa Barbara-based Horny Toad, stated, "We are fortunate to live, work and recreate in such a beautiful and environmentally rich place. We appreciate being part of the great cluster of Conservation Alliance member companies and local grantees. Our team always looks forward to the annual Backyard Collective as the opportunity to connect with each other, the other member companies, grassroots groups and the local environment. Working outside and getting our hands dirty in a conservation project is one of the best ways to start the day."

The Conservation Alliance is a group of outdoor industry companies that fund conservation organizations. The Alliance launched the Backyard Collective Program in 2008 to bring together member company employees and local grantees for a day of environmental. These events allow us to get out of the office and get our hands dirty; doing good work to preserve and protect the open spaces in our own backyards. In addition to Santa Barbara, The Conservation Alliance will organize  Backyard Collective Events this year in Seattle, Bend, Portland, San Francisco, and Boulder, Colo.

Thanks again to all of our volunteers, partners and event supporters for contributing to the day's success. We're already looking forward to next year!

Take Action Tuesday: KEEN Ambassador Kirsten Blackburn Reflects on Washington DC

March 25, 2014 by Serena Bishop


From a newly assigned Conservation Alliance Ambassador

Two weeks ago today I was sitting inside a very clean, very professional Pew Charitable Trust office building, nearly across the street from the White House.  The Conservation Alliance's annual DC trip was not only different in that the amount of people joining was doubled in size, but this time the invitation list was extended out to CA ambassadors from member companies, user groups, and other conservation groups.  The camaraderie was incredible - I was humbled by the passion in the room as CA board members, leaders in the industry, and leaders in the conservation effort demonstrated tremendous knowledge and dedication of public lands protection.

undefinedThe Tuesday training in the Pew office was upbeat and enthusiastic - full of passionate minds and public lands enthusiasts speaking of their desire to protect the places we all play.  Wednesday we took to the Capital to meet with our local Senators and Representatives to express our gratitude for their effort in specific conservation legislation and readdress and reaffirm the economic and recreational benefits of protecting public lands.

Rather than share all 40 pages of notes I took, I decided to share three themes from the 72 hours I spent in our Nation's Capital.

1.       There is an economic interest in public land protection.

Outdoor Recreation (including tourism) is a $650B industry and is directly responsible for 6.1 million jobs.  Both Red and Blue folks like jobs, like to play outside, and enjoy the benefits of fresh air and open spaces to recreate.  The outdoor industry can think of itself as creating ‘green jobs' because our product is technology.  We create technology, or product, that allows our consumers to engage with outdoor spaces.  

2.       There is a process in Washington that must be acknowledged.

While we are used to the private sector - which is primarily results driven, Washington, or the public sector, tends to be much more concerned with the process by which results happen.  Therefore, we must always remember to understand the process, and be inclusive - keep all necessary parties informed of all initiatives and always, always look for opportunities to bring public support into the inclusive conversation.

3.       Show and share our alignment!

It's absolutely imperative for us to be organized, work as a collective unit, and present our ideas in an organized and to-the-point manner.  We need to take the time to engage with all involved parties and devise plans by which all (or most) parties are happy.  Let's not forget about the timber industry and motorized recreation groups - we need to understand their side of the coin so we can be successful.  To be successful we must have clear objectives, demonstrate our alignment, and have real-life examples of far-reaching public support.  How does education and conservation intertwine?  What's the balance of recreation, conservation, and the natural resource industry?

undefinedLong story short -the trip was invaluable. What a wonderful experience it was to personally interact with our country's elected decision makers to present our collective interests.   It was truly an incredible experience and an honor to be in the presence of such passionate individuals working towards our common objectives.  The entire industry should be wholeheartedly proud of the tremendous effort and great work the Conservation Alliance does each and every day to protect the places we all play.

Proud and Humbled,

Kirsten Blackburn