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Interior Department Restores Wilderness Rules

December 24, 2010 by John Sterling

 

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced yesterday that the Obama Administration will reverse a Bush-era policy and make millions of acres of pristine BLM lands eligible for Wilderness designation. The order directs the BLM to identify and maintain an updated inventory of lands with wilderness characteristics. This is important because, though only Congress can designate Wilderness, the order directs the BLM to plan for potential future Wilderness designations by ensuring that certain lands maintain Wilderness qualities until Congress can act. The order overturns a Bush-era policy that stripped the BLM of its authority to administratively protect wild places that meet the definition of Wilderness.

Click here for the full story from the Associated Press.

Click here for an Interior Department Q&A about the new policy.

Conservation Alliance Well Represented at Cyclocross National Championships

December 21, 2010 by John Sterling

The 2010 Cyclocross National Championships were held in our hometown of Bend, Oregon last week. Several Conservation Alliance member companies -- Yakima, Pearl Izumi, Clif Bar -- were on hand as sponsors. It was a wild scene with more than 10,000 spectators cheering on the riders who cranked their way through a course sloppy with mud, snow and spongy grass.

Conservation Alliance Program Associate Serena Bishop Gordon (pictured above) kicked butt in both the Women's Masters 30-35 race (placing 8th overall) and in the Women's Elite race (placing 27th overall). Michael Carroll, who works for the Wilderness Support Center, a Conservation Alliance grantee, also completed the Men's Masters 35-39 race.

Meanwhile, Conservation Alliance Executive Director John Sterling was on hand to cheer on both Serena and Michael, and to expose his two children (pictured below) to the wonders of cyclocross fans.

Update from Sierra Club of British Columbia at 12/20/10 6:28 PM

December 20, 2010 by Sierra Club of British Columbia
As the last unsettled low elevation valley in southern Canada, the Flathead River Valley  is a sanctuary for species that are rare or at-risk elsewhere in North America. Located in the south-eastern corner of British Columbia, adjacent to Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park, the Flathead is still home to all the animal species found in the area at the time of European contact. Despite its relatively untouched state and the mining and oil and gas development ban announced by the B.C. government in February 2010, this area – and the species found here – are still urgently in need of permanent protection. The ban is not legislated and could be overturned by a future provincial government. Logging, grizzly trophy hunting, increased road access, and quarrying still threaten the Flathead and its remarkable wildlife. A national park in the south eastern one-third of the Flathead, next to Waterton-Glacier, the piece closest to... Read More

Condit Dam Removal Means Restoration Of White Salmon River is Set

December 20, 2010 by Serena Bishop

 

Exciting news on the free-flowing river front. The prospect of removing Condit Dam on the White Salmon River moved closer to reality last week when the Federal Energy Regulatory Commissioning formally ordered the removal of the dam.

The decision means that dam removal is now official for October 2011.

"We conclude, based on the record of this case, that the benefits of dam removal to anadromous fish, wildlife, and whitewater recreation outweigh the costs associated with the loss of Condit dam and Northwestern Lake," project surrender order Commissioners of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission stated.

Many partners have been working on this project, and with the reality of dam removal around the corner, excitement is mounting. "The rivers of the Columbia River Gorge represent some of the nation's most outstanding whitewater resources, and at the heart of the Gorge the White Salmon River is known worldwide for its scenic beauty and high quality whitewater", noted Thomas O'Keefe, American Whitewater's Pacific Northwest Stewardship Director.

"Condit Dam was originally constructed a century ago for hydropower and at the time met a local community need. Now we recognize other values of the river and while the dam itself is big, the hydropower project is relatively small especially in light of its major environmental impacts--its time has passed."

At 125 feet, the dam will be one of the largest dams ever removed. You can read more about the anticipated dam removal on the American Whitewater site. A big congrats to everyone that was involved on this project; we love celebrating free-flowing rivers!

Conservation Stories: The North Face Canada Runs Holiday Facebook Campaign to Support David Suzuki Foundation

December 16, 2010 by Serena Bishop

 

The work at Conservation Alliance wouldn't be possible without all of our outdoor industry brand members. But a lot of them aren't only involved with Conservation Alliance; many of our member brands are committed to a diverse variety of environmental causes. Today we're highlighting The North Face Canada, who launched a Facebook campaign Wednesday December 15, 2010 to support David Suzuki Foundation, which works toward environmental conservation through education, advocacy and policy work.

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From The North Face blog

If you don’t already “like” The North Face on Facebook, now’s the time to do so for a great cause! Between now and December 31st, The North Face Canada will be donating $1 for each new user that “likes” our Facebook page to the David Suzuki Foundation, which works toward environmental conservation through education, advocacy and policy work. The donation, up to $20,000, will be announced on December 31st.

Visit our Facebook page to participate and to find daily tips on how to be environmentally friendly this holiday season. 

 “As the world’s leading outdoor apparel and equipment brand, The North Face continuously strives to implement more sustainable business practices and reduce our carbon footprint,” states Corey Stecker, Marketing Manager of The North Face Canada. “We are excited to work with the David Suzuki Foundation to show Canada just how easy it is to be eco-friendly this holiday season.”

 “We are grateful to The North Face for this support and we applaud Canadians who are making environmentally friendly choices during the holiday season,” said Dr. Faisal Moola, Director of Science the David Suzuki Foundation. “It is a time to share your deepest values and remember what matters most – family, friends and our precious planet.”

Grantee Weekly Grind: Update on Hydro-Fracking in New York

December 14, 2010 by Serena Bishop

fracking photo
Daniel Foster via flickr

In September, we wrote about how Conservation Alliance grantee Adirondack Mountain Club is working to protect Allegheny State Park from proposed hydro-fracking mining.

Yesterday, New York Gov. David Paterson signed an executive order halting the controversial natural gas drilling process until July 1, 2011, but it's only sort of good news.

via Treehugger:

Governor Paterson ordered a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking, that will last until July. But it's only on certain kinds of drilling—horizontal wells as opposed to vertical wells... So while a moratorium is better than nothing at all, it's certainly no guarantee of a well-protected environment.

Read the rest of the story...

Alliance Members Urge Senate to Consider a Package of Public Lands Bills

December 09, 2010 by Serena Bishop

 

The work at Conservation Alliance wouldn't be possible without all of our outdoor industry brand members. But a lot of them aren't only involved with Conservation Alliance; many of our member brands are committed to a diverse variety of environmental causes. Today we're thanking all of the companies that recently signed our letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, urging him to make time to consider a package of public lands bills during the lame duck session of Congress.

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Conservation Alliance Executive Director John Sterling hand-delivered the letter, signed by over 35 member companies, to key Senate offices last week while he was in DC.

From John:

"It is still hard to tell whether the bills will come up, but there was certainly a lot of discussion in each office we visited about the possibility. Given the many issues Congress wants to tackle before Christmas, a lands package faces a steep uphill battle with a very tight timeline. But there are some powerful and motivated members of Congress pushing hard for it. I will keep you all posted as the effort progresses. Regardless, thank you for helping us make a strong case for these important conservation measures."

Leaders of the House Natural Resources Committee are currently discussing a list of possible bills they would like to see included in a more massive public lands, wildlife and waterways bill.

From The PEW Environment Group:

"On the list are a committee-passed proposal to turn the Devil's Staircase in Oregon into federally protected wilderness where logging and road development would be banned, and a House-passed bill to expand the Alpine Lakes Wilderness in Washington state and extend the Middle Fork Snoqualmie River and Pratt River's wild and scenic river protections.

More controversial bills include the "America's Red Rocks Wilderness Act," a bill that would designate more than 9 million acres as protected wilderness in Utah -- including Desolation Canyon, the Grand Staircase-Escalante area and Glen Canyon -- but has yet to be passed by the committee and lacks support from the Utah delegation."

More here

Don't Drill, Baby! Obama Admin Should Designate the Arctic as a National Monument

December 07, 2010 by Serena Bishop

 

In 2010, the Conservation Alliance awarded Alaska Wilderness League a grant to encourage President Obama to designate the Coastal Plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge a National Monument. Yesterday, was the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge's 50th anniversary. Take action HERE to urge President Obama to designate the Arctic as a National Monument.

via The LA Times on November 24, 2010:

Right about now in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, dozens of pregnant female polar bears are preparing to give birth in dens they dug into the snowdrifts last month, unaware that the fate of their home, and possibly their species, hinges on the price of gasoline. The Obama administration can and should change that.

Big Oil and its congressional allies have been mounting attempts to open the refuge to oil and gas development since the 1970s. There is no immediate danger that they'll succeed. Although the GOP electoral landslide this month ended Democratic control of the House and produced an incoming class of congressional freshman who are ardently pro-drilling, the Senate is still controlled by Democrats who oppose opening the refuge. More important, gas prices have been stable for more than a year. But should they spike — which is likely to happen if the economy significantly improves — the false perception that we could drill our way out of the problem would increase public support for opening the refuge, pressuring centrist Democrats to change their stance.

This is why half the members of the Senate (all of them Democrats except Independent Sen. Joe Liebermanletter of Connecticut) sent a letter to President Obama last week urging him to grant the "strongest possible" federal protection to the refuge, thus ending the perennial battles over drilling. Several environmental groups have joined in, urging Obama to designate the land as a national monument, which would prohibit most forms of development.

Read the rest of the story... And Take Action HERE!

Photo via