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Republican Presidential Candidates vs. Federal Lands

February 28, 2012 by John Sterling

 

Two of the remaining candidates for the Republican Presidential nomination think the Federal Government should sell our public lands or transfer them to the states. 

Most outspoken on the issue has been Rick Santorum, who recently told a crowd in Idaho, “We need to get it [federal lands] back into the hands of the states and even to the private sector. And we can make money doing it.”

Santorum added that National Parks like Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon should remain under federal management, but did not explain why.

Like Santorum, candidate Congressman Ron Paul thinks the federal government should get out of the land management business. Paul would like to eliminate the Department of Interior, which manages more than 500 million acres of land, including our National Parks and Monuments.

Though radical, this position on who should manage our public lands is not new. Politicians have tried unsuccessfully over the years to transfer federal lands to the states or sell them to the highest bidder. For those of us who consider our National Parks, Forest Service, BLM, and Wildlife Refuge lands to be our birthright as Americans, this notion is abhorrent. Let's hope it continues to go nowhere.

Check out this interesting article from the Idaho Statesman for more information on politicians -- past and present -- who have sought to sell or transfer federal lands.

Favorites on Friday: Success for American Whitewater on the Colorado River

February 24, 2012 by Serena Bishop

        Photo: Kent Vertrees, AW Volunteer

FERC Dismisses Preliminary Permit for Flaming Gorge Pipeline

In September, 2011, Wyco Power and Water, Inc., filed a preliminary permit application to study the feasibility of developing the Regional Watershed Supply Project.  This project would include seven hydropower projects and 501-mile water pipeline that would run from the Flaming Gorge Reservoir and the Green River in Wyoming to a proposed reservoir near Pueblo, Colorado. 

This week, FERC dismissed the preliminary permit application.

Conservation Alliance grantee, American Whitewater to a lead in the opposition of the project that would have had significant impacts on the iconic river canyons of the Green and Colorado Rivers, including Gates of Lodore, Desolation and Gray Canyons, and Cataract Canyon, among others.

Nathan Fey, Director of American Whitewater's Colorado River Stewardship Program had this to say after the FERC decision was announced:

"Support from the Conservation Alliance in 2006 was instrumental in launching our work in the Colorado basin, including the Yampa/Green River Project. Our big-picture goals in these basins is to prevent any large-scale water transfer from either the Green or Yampa Rivers, and to ensure that these iconic waterways, which run through Dinosaur National Monument, Desolation and Gray Canyons, Canyonlands National Park and Cataract Canyon, are protected and restored.

These rivers are critical components of the Colorado River system and of AW's Colorado River Program.  With support from Conservation Alliance, we've been able to make significant progress in protecting these places."

This decision is a significant milestone for conservation and protection of the Colorado River Basin.

                                                                        Photo: Kent Vertrees, AW Volunteer

Conservation Victories Lie In Local Grassroots Efforts

February 21, 2012 by Serena Bishop

                                                                    John Sterling on the Owyhee River, Oregon                      

During the last week of January, Conservation Alliance Executive Director, John Sterling, spent a few days in Washington, DC, attending conference designed to provide funders with insights into the political landscape, and the prospects for conservation success in 2012.  After returning home and reflecting on the experience and what he learned, John shared these thoughts:

"Given the dysfunction in Congress, and election year politics, much of the news was discouraging. But, we heard over and over that the best hope for conservation victories lies in local grassroots efforts to protect special places. Congressman Martin Heinrich (D-NM) told our group to focus on local people and the places that are important to them. This was encouraging to hear, because for 23 years, The Conservation Alliance has done just that. We provide funds to local organizations that leverage the passion of local people to protect the wild lands and rivers in their backyards. 2012 will be a challenging year for conservation, but we are confident that we have the right strategy to win protections for wild places in good years and bad. "

Staying positive and pro-active in challenging times can be difficult, but we are confident in the work of our grantees and their commitment to the process - even when things get tough.  Moving forward is the only way to reach our conservation goals - and we intend to do just that. 

Thank you for being a part of our efforts!

"Though men now possess the power to dominate and exploit every corner of the natural world, nothing in that fact implies that they have the right or the need to do so." - Edward Abbey

Favorites on Friday: Be Inspired, Take Action!

February 17, 2012 by Serena Bishop

We have great stories.  Stories of conservation success, stories of hard work that need grassroots support, stories of outdoor industry companies standing up for our wild places.  More people need to hear these stories and we need your help. 

February kicks off the Be Inspired, Take Action Facebook Campaign! Each month, a Conservation Alliance member company will partner with a Conservation Alliance grantee to highlight ways you can take action and win some sweet prizes!

This month, visit The Conservation Alliance Facebook Page to learnabout ways you can take action on behalf of California Wilderness Coalition, share, comment and interact with us on Facebook and enter to win this month's prize, any item of your choice from prAna's Spring Collection.

              Be Inspired, Take Action - and tell your friends! 

Flathead: The Curious Tailed Frog

February 15, 2012 by Sierra Club of British Columbia
The endangered Rocky Mountain Tailed Frog is smaller than your pinky finger, and pounces on prey instead of snatching them with a sticky tongue like other frogs. It’s one of the longest-lived frogs in the world, yet can’t croak or call. This remarkable amphibian is one of a dozen at-risk species in B.C.’s Flathead River Valley, a Noah’s Ark for species that have lost habitat elsewhere. Everything about this hopscotching creature is intriguing. Tailed frogs grow very slowly, with tadpoles taking four to five years to metamorphose. The froglets take several more years to mature sexually, and adults can live for as long as 20 years. They only reach three centimetres in length. The tailed frog’s hind foot toes are flatter and wider than toes on other frogs and toads. They lack the external “ear” of other frogs, and are voiceless. B.C. is the only place in Canada with tailed... Read More

24 Hours to Stop Keystone XL

February 14, 2012 by Serena Bishop

 

Right now, the Senate is considering legislation that would resurrect the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. President Obama rejected this toxic disaster-in-the-making last month, and now Big Oil's representatives in Congress are trying to force its approval.

It looks like a deal might be coming together in the next 24 hours. We have a short window to act.  Make your voice heard by joining the effort to blitz the Senate with messages opposing Keystone XL - the entire environmental movement is coming together to send over 500,000 messages to Congress in under 24 hours.

It takes all of about 30 seconds to send your message - just click here to join in the fight against Keystone XL.

If you haven't heard of Keystone XL or don't know about the tar sands, here's the short summary: Keystone XL is a proposed 1700 mile pipeline connecting the Alberta tar sands with refineries on the Gulf Coast. The tar sands are North America's largest pool of carbon, and NASA's top scientist James Hansen says that exploiting them means 'essentially game over' for the climate. Keystone will ship tar sands oil across critical water supplies and sensitive ecosystems just so it can be exported to foreign markets from refineries in Texas. The job benefits are way overstated, and overall it is just a scam designed to line Big Oil's pockets at our own expense. 

 Learn more at http://www.350.org/

Groundswell: The Wave of Opposition to the Northern Gateway Oil Pipeline

February 08, 2012 by Serena Bishop

In 2011, The Conservation Alliance funded the Raincoast Conservation Foundation, in support of their unspOILed Initiative.  The goal of the unspOILed campaign is to defeat the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway oil pipeline and tanker proposal, keeping coastal British Columbia, including the Great Bear Rainforest, unspoiled. 

Raincoast is teaming up with many partners to protect the Great Bear Rainforest, including the surfers who enjoy the waters of Northern British Columbia. 

In partnership Patagonia and Woodshed Films, Raincoast Conservation Foundation has brought an exploratory surf trip along British Columbia's unspoiled west coast to life; searching for waves and documenting the threats of the Enbridge Northern Gateway tar sands oil pipeline.

 Read more about this collaborative project here.

Permanent Protection for Rivers in the North Cascades

February 06, 2012 by American Rivers
American Rivers is the leading organization working to protect and restore the nation’s rivers and streams.  Rivers connect us to each other, nature, and future generations.  Since 1973, American Rivers has fought to preserve these connections, helping protect and restore more than 150,000 miles of rivers through advocacy efforts, on-the-ground projects, and the annual release of America’s Most Endangered Rivers™.   Headquartered in Washington, DC, American Rivers has offices across the country and more than 100,000 supporters, members, and volunteers nationwide. Current Work with the Conservation AllianceThe spectacular rivers of Washington State face an uncertain future with threats from new development, dams, mining, and other projects that will forever change their character. Unfortunately, Washington lags behind neighboring states like Oregon when it comes to protecting rivers. For example, Washington has only six rivers designated under the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act while Oregon has fifty nine Wild and Scenic Rivers with more... Read More

Teshekpuk Lake Escapes Oil & Gas Lease Sale

February 03, 2012 by Audubon Alaska
Audubon Alaska is pleased to report we prevailed in the effort to have the Bureau of Land Management keep Teshekpuk Lake off-limits in the December 2011 oil and gas lease sale.   This is an essential short-term victory, but it doesn’t provide lasting protection for Teshekpuk Lake. The Bureau of Land Management is currently writing a new plan for the entire National Petroleum Reserve–Alaska (NPRA), with a public comment period expected in April 2012.To learn more, see our report on the NPRA, Striking a Balance in America’s Western Arctic. The report shows why Teshekpuk Lake and its surroundings are a globally-significant Important Bird Area for molting geese, as well as key places for nesting waterfowl, staging shorebirds, and calving caribou.  We are also engaged in cutting-edge science to analyze the ways caribou use the Arctic landscape.Stay tuned for your opportunity to help protect the Special Areas of the NPRA! ... Read More

Many Reasons to Celebrate the WInter Outdoor Retailer Show!

February 02, 2012 by Serena Bishop

At Outdoor Retailer in just a few days, Conservation Alliance member companies raised more than $40,000 to protect wild places! Here are just a few of the highlights...‎

The Conservation Alliance Breakfast

“My connection to the environment is something very emotional; it comes from the heart for me especially now that I have become a dad.”

Wildlife photographer Florian Schulz had us all inspired and on the edge of tears during the Conservation Alliance breakfast. Schulz shared his stories and captivating photos from the Arctic. 

“I hope we can keep this planet the way it is for a while longer… fighting for this is essential.” Take action with Alliance grantee Alaska Wilderness League here.

In addition to being inspired to protect our wild places to the north, member companies stepped it up to support the Alliance and because of their help, we will e able to push even more funds into protecting the wild places we love in 2012!

The North Face made a $750,000 commitment to complete Phase One of our Legacy Fund, which will ensure permanence for The Conservation Alliance, and allow us to maintain our commitment to contribute 100 percent of our members' dues to conservation organizations.

In addition, Peter Metcalf, Black Diamond Equipment Founder and active conservationist, and his wife Kathy Metcalf, made a personal commitment of $75,000 to the Legacy Fund, and an additional $50,000 from Black Diamond Equipment to kick off Phase Two of the Legacy fund.

The Annual Canadian Cup, sponsored by Canada Goose, Arc'teryx and Baffin, raised $8,800 for the Alliance. Congratulations to the winners, KEEN Footwear and thank you to all of the teams who participated! 

 

 

 

Other member companies came together to offer up a huge lineup of awesome gear promotions, with all proceeds going directly to the Alliance. 

Thank you to everyone who helped to make this Winter OR a resounding success. If you'd like to get involved at the summer show, please email serena@conservationalliance.com for more info.

 

Help the Arctic Ocean!

February 02, 2012 by Audubon Alaska
The ocean waters along Alaska's northern coast provide vital habitat for extraordinary wildlife, including polar bears, walruses, ice-dependent seals, endangered bowhead whales, and millions of migratory birds. The Arctic Ocean can also be phenomenally harsh: broken ice covers the water for much of the year, storms with hurricane-force winds can whip up 20-foot seas, and it is entirely dark for half the year. The federal government recently released a proposed Five-Year Program (2012-2017) for oil and gas leasing that could open up pristine new areas in the Arctic Ocean offshore of Alaska to oil drilling. The oil industry has never successfully demonstrated the ability to clean up an oil spill in the harsh conditions of the Arctic Ocean.  Send your comments by February 8!... Read More

Industry Leaders Make a Statement with Legacy Fund Contributions

February 01, 2012 by Serena Bishop
 

In January 2008, The Conservation Alliance launched the Legacy Fund Campaign, a campaign to raise a $3.5-million endowment, earnings from which will cover the majority of our operating expenses. The Legacy Fund will ensure permanence for The Conservation Alliance, and allow us to maintain our commitment to contribute 100 percent of our members' dues to conservation organizations. Last week, we reached our $3.5-million goal when The North Face made a $750,000 commitment to complete the fund.TNF President Todd Spaletto (left) made the announcement at The Conservation Alliance Breakfast in Salt Lake City.

 

But, we didn't stop there.  Our original endowment goal was a great start, but the Legacy Fund remains open for contributions from anyone who wants to give something back in support of the outdoor industry's collective effort to protect wild places. Peter Metcalf, Black Diamond Equipment Founder, active conservationist, and industry leader (below), kicked off Phase II of the Legacy Campaign with a bang.  Peter and Kathy Metcalf made a personal commitment of $75,000 to the Legacy Fund, and an additional $50,000 from Black Diamond Equipment.

 

Announcing their commitments, Spaletto and Metcalf both spoke eloquently about the reasons for their generous gifts. Below is a reprint of Peter's comments, which touched so many in the audience.

"As I look out at all of you, here at 7am before a big day of work, I am reminded that we are much more than just an industry. We are a community, the "Outdoor Community", a community whose passion runs so deep that collaboration trumps competition relative to the great issues of life.

This is a community that has three defining qualities to it.

a.       A love for an outdoor sport - rich in adventure, athleticism, and commitment.

b.       A community of fellow passionate individuals with whom we share epics, trust, experiences and fear. We are all connected by the bond of these shared experiences - whether they are big air, big hydraulics, or big drops.

c.       The third defining element is that of the sublime places where we ply our craft, lay down our sleeping bags and brew our morning coffee. You do not need to believe in any religion to know something supreme has crafted these places and they inspire us to fight for their preservation and stewardship. Places like this help us keep our lives in perspective and remind us of our humanity.

That is why we are all here this morning.

But we are an industry, as well as a community; which means there is a fourth defining reason for the importance of these wild place places in our lives. They are the source of our Economic sustenance and our families' economic well being. We have forged our careers in this special industry, and they provide us with a lifestyle that is the envy of many.

It is our companies, which all of us here define, who give their financial support to fund The Conservation Alliance and the Alliance supports an amazing ecosystem of grassroots organizations fighting THE good fight on behalf of all of us.  If we as individuals can make a one-time contribution or  multi-year pledge to the Alliance's endowment,  there is the opportunity for us to create a situation where 100 percent of the our company's annual giving goes NOT to operating budgets but instead  to the environmental groups battling to save those last iconic places on earth.

So let me share and merge two inspiring quotes that crystallize why we should act and why YOU must act. 

The first is from the 1970's author of the Whole Earth Catalog and futurist, Stuart Brand.

Stuart wrote:

"Natural systems are priceless in value and nearly impossible to replace, but they are cheap to maintain.  ALL you have to do is defend them... "

And because we know the "ALL" in "defend" is spelled in bold capitals, I am combining his insightful words of wisdom with a call to activism by the well known anthropological author Margret Mead who wrote:

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.  Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."

May all of you here this morning, rise up and take your proper place as a "not so small group of thoughtful committed citizens" just as those, in the small, defiant, grassroots conservation groups are doing that The Conservation Alliance supports.

It is a lasting legacy that you can leave for your children and this industry.