ONDA Solidifies Critical Local Support for Sutton Mountain

Oregon Natural Desert Association is one step closer to permanent protection in the John Day Basin.

Photo: JDavis

Conservation Alliance grantee, Oregon Natural Desert Association, has cleared an important hurdle and move one step closer to securing protection for a proposal wilderness area in the John Day Basin with the endorsement of two local governments.  When successful, this wilderness proposal will protect roughly 58,000 acres of public land known for spectacular scenery and prime wildlife habitat.

The Wheeler County Court and the Mitchell City Council have both voted unanimously to support a wilderness designation for Sutton Mountain, which neighbors the Painted Hills Unit of the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument in the John Day River Basin.

In casting their supporting votes, local officials cited the economic benefits of the proposal, which also includes transferring a 1,959-acre Bureau of Land Management-owned parcel to Wheeler County. Mitchell, considered the gateway city to Sutton Mountain, endorsed the proposal last week in a 6-0 vote. The Wheeler County Court followed suit this week. With the two key endorsements, wilderness advocates and local stakeholders are optimistic that the proposal will earn the support of the Oregon congressional delegation.

The proposed land transfer, an area near Mitchell known as the Golden Triangle, was at one time private land that is currently administered by the Bureau of Land Management. The parcel contains a historic homestead and was in the past used for agricultural purposes.

“This proposal really is in the best interests of local residents,” Wheeler County Judge Chris Perry said. “It will create economic opportunities through tourism and visitation to the new wilderness. The majority of area residents I’ve heard from are in favor of this plan, and they agree that it will breathe new life into a tired horse.”

“People come to Mitchell already to see the wonder of the Painted Hills,” said Mitchell City Councilor Kerrie Shortt, referring to Travel Oregon’s inclusion of the Painted Hills in its Seven Wonders of Oregon campaign. “But we believe they’ll stay longer when they realize Sutton Mountain is also worth a visit.”

With its see-for-miles vistas, deep canyons and fascinating geology, Sutton Mountain is a gem of the John Day River Basin worth knowing, said Brent Fenty, ONDA’s executive director. It also features prime habitat for elk, mule deer and raptors, as well as plants found nowhere else in the world.

“We’re proud to be part of a collaborative proposal that would respond to the needs of Wheeler County residents and protect one of the most important areas of Oregon’s high desert,” Fenty said.

ONDA will continue working with Wheeler County, the City of Mitchell and other stakeholders to pursue legislation for the proposal.

Learn more about ONDA’s conservation initiative ( and the area’s unique characteristics ( on ONDA’s website.

Clif Bar Raises Money for Winter Wildlands Alliance: #MeetTheMoment

For the month of November, Clif Bar is giving Winter Wildlands Alliance $1 for every Instagram post tagged with #MeetTheMoment.  This giving campaign fueled by Clif Bar is about honoring the magical moments we experience during our outdoor adventures, and giving back to the non-profits who are working to protect the places we love to play.

Winter Wildlands Alliance received a $40,000 grant from The Conservation Alliance in our last funding cycle for their important work in Utah’s Wasatch and Idaho’s Boulder White Clouds mountains.  In Utah, WWA is working to preserve the balance between world renowned resort skiing AND equally renowned, undeveloped backcountry terrain through permanent protection measures. They are seeking conservation easements and management designations for the lands at risk under the new One Wasatch proposal.  In Idaho, WWA is one of the many organizations working to protect 590,000 acres of pristine winter habitat and backcountry recreation terrain in the Boulder-White Clouds Mountains through national monument designation.

Keep your eye out for the limited edition “Adventure Challenges” printed on the back of Clif Bars, tag your photos with #MeetTheMoment and enjoy your adventure!

Project Profile: Permanent Protection for the Berryessa Snow Mountains

Smittle Creek  Photo: Jim Rose

Charlotte Orr is the Media & Communications Manager at Tuleyome. The Conservation Alliance twice-funded Tuleyome’s campaign to permanently protect the Berryessa Snow Mountains as a National Conservation Area or National Monument. 


Tuleyome, a conservation non-profit working to protect the wild and agricultural heritage of the Northern Inner Coast Range and Western Sacramento Valley is working to protect over 350,000 acres of federal public lands in the Berryessa Snow Mountain region. This area is the crown jewel of Northern California’s wild Inner Coast Range.

These public lands stretch nearly one hundred miles from the shores of Lake Berryessa to the flanks of Snow Mountain. The area includes thriving blue oak woodlands, Shasta red fir forests, creek side habitat, an annual explosion of wildflowers, nearly half of California’s dragonfly species, a wealth of butterflies, river otters, trout, tule elk, deer, mountain lions, bears, osprey, and provides habitat to California’s second largest population of wintering bald eagles. The Berryessa Snow Mountain region has botanical biodiversity that makes it the center of the California global hot spot.

Campaign Progress:

Legislation to protect the area as a National Conservation Area was introduced in 2011, but due to a lame duck session in congress, it had to be reintroduced the following year. Backers of the legislation in the house and senate include Senator Barbara Boxer, and Representatives Mike Thompson, John Garamendi, and Jared Huffman.

With 2014 coming to a close, Congressman Mike Thompson has pronounced a call for action: if congress will not protect the Berryessa Snow Mountain region, then President Obama should.

During his January State of the Union Address, President Obama made a promise to use his authority to protect more of the country’s magnificent federal public lands for the benefit of future generations.

Protecting the Berryessa Snow Mountain Region will not only help future, but also current generations by boosting tourism which will help local economies and improve recreation opportunities for the public. The Berryessa Snow Mountain region is a popular destination for those who enjoy going outside to hike, horseback ride, and hunt, camp, fish, bird watch, use motorized vehicles on designated routes, enjoy both motorized and non-motorized boating, water recreation, and more.

Communities Taking Action:

By October, 2014 over 100 local businesses and more than 43,000 individuals have taken a stand to support permanent protection for the Berryessa Snow Mountain region and the list continues to grow.

Many nationally recognized conservation, recreation and sportsmen groups have also voiced support for the designation, including the Sierra Club, League of Conservation Voters, International Mountain Bicycling Association, Trout Unlimited, Back Country Horsemen, the Equine Land Conservation Resource, and many more. The Blue Ribbon Coalition, a national group that champions responsible off-road recreation is also supportive as long as the Monument designation captures the recreation access tenets in the legislation and public narratives.

Permanent protection of these federal public lands will improve coordination between federal agencies, help adjustments to climate change, keep our water clean and provide additional federal funding opportunities for conservation management, invasive species eradication, and recreational enhancement.

Take Action! How You Can Help:

Ask President Obama to permanently protect the Berryessa Snow Mountain region. Go to our website at or click here to fill out an online postcard of support!

Adirondack Park Action Alert

The Adirondack Park Agency (APA) is accepting comments on how to amend the State Land Master Plan. All publicly–owned Forest Preserve lands in the Adirondack Park are managed based on this document.  Between now and December 5th, you can submit your recommendation for how these lands should be managed.

The primary goal of the Master Plan is to ensure “protection and preservation of the natural resources.”  Unfortunately, not everyone agrees on what it means to preserve and protect natural resources. Other interests be making recommendations to expand motorized use on certain lands, weakening the protections currently outlined in the Master Plan.

Our recent grantee, Adirondack Council, put together a list of recommendations our members should send to the APA.  In your own words, please tell them:

  1. The State Land Master Plan must continue to uphold the protection and preservation of natural resources as paramount.
  2. You support protecting and expanding principles of Wilderness to protect water quality and wildlife, provide for solitude and unique recreational opportunities and to support sustainable tourism and vibrant communities.
  3. You support the state’s commitment to the protection of the Hudson Gorge Wilderness and Essex Chain of Lakes Primitive Areas as motor-free.
  4. What you value most about the Adirondacks and that the State Land Master Plan should protect those values.

Please send comments in your own words to:

Deputy Director, Planning
Kathy Regan
PO Box 99
Ray Brook, NY 12977
Email –

MEC, KEEN Canada and CPAWS Raising Money to Protect Threatened Habitats


Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC) and KEEN Canada are working with Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) to raise money during “WEEK for the WILD,” a campaign to increase awareness of species and risk, and the need to protect their threatened habitat. MEC and Keen each pledged to contributed up to $2,000 in matching donations to help raise money for the campaign.

The featured habitat for the woodland caribou is Yukon’s Peel Watershed, a project funded four times by The Conservation Alliance. The woodland caribou was once found everywhere in North America, but today they are confined primarily to Canada’s northern Boreal Forest. The Peel Land Use Planning Commission recommended protecting 80% of the Peel Watershed, allowing for careful development of the remaining 20%. CPAWS is encouraging the government to adopt this plan in order to permanently protect this watershed, a critical habitat for the woodland caribou.

If CPAWS meets the $4,000 fundraising goal, the CEO’s of both MEC and Keen Canada will dress up as CPAWS mascots on Halloween, the last day of the campaign.  We are proud to see these members working with CPAWS on this creative campaign, and we look forward to posting photos of Bou the caribou and Baleen the humpback whale.

Success: Eagle Bluff Climbing Area Acquired

Eagle Bluff, ME  Photo: RW Estela

The Access Fund announced the final acquisition of Eagle Bluff, a crag in central Maine with more than 130 cracks and sport climbs, bouldering and hiking. They worked with a local climbing coalition to raise the $100,000 necessary to acquire this popular recreation area. The Conservation Allinace grant awarded to the Access Fund in our Summer 2014 funding cycle brought this project across the finish line.

Climbers have been enjoying the granite cracks of Eagle Bluff since the late 1960’s. In the mid-1990’s, climbing access was threatened when the property was listed for sale.  A local climber, Donald Nelligan, purchased the property at that time. When he passed away in 2013, the fate of Eagle Bluff was unclear.  The Nelligan family closed public access due to liability concerns and immediately sought to sell the property. Together, Access Fund and Clifton Climbers Alliance raised the necessary funds to acquire Eagle Bluff.  CCA is prepared to assume stewardship responsibilities for Eagle Bluff to ensure this area is properly managed for future generations to enjoy.

Since our inception, The Conservation Alliance has helped acquire 10 climbing areas in North America.

Guest Blog: Faces of the Skeena

Andrew Stegemann, the Community Involvement Manager at Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC), spent five days on the Skeena River in British Columbia.  We’re pleased to share Andrew’s story about this sacred place and the local community working to protect it.

The Conservation Alliance has funded the Skeena Watershed Conservation Coalition to support their efforts to permanently protect the Skeena River watershed.  Thank you, Andrew, for giving us an inside look at this special place.

I visited the Skeena River in northwestern BC to find out what it takes to look after a wild place. On my journey, I discovered that a healthy river is more than just water, trees and fish. It’s also people. – Post by Andrew Stegemann, MEC Community Involvement Manager

The Skeena River is what a wild place should look like. Its water and banks are filled with all five species of Pacific salmon, moose with six-foot-wide antlers, and countless lumbering bears pouncing on the fish brought to them by the river. And it’s not just wildlife that finds safe harbour in this rainforest, but numerous communities as well.

In September, I travelled part of the Skeena’s length and met the people who call it home. Since 2008, MEC has granted $238,916 to this beautiful area as part of our commitment to keep space for adventure in all our lives. The people I met spoke about their loyalty to the region, how they’re taking care of it, and how they can keep the great river they rely on pure and whole.

These are the faces of the Skeena.


The Skeena is the second longest river in BC, beginning high in the coastal mountains and spanning 570km. It’s also one of the longest undammed rivers on the planet, and one of the top sport fishing destinations in the world. (more…)

A Record 1,089 Volunteers in 2014

Photo: Eli Reichman

It’s been a busy year for The Conservation Alliance! We just wrapped up our most successful Backyard Collective event series since its inception in 2008. Spirits were high, and everyone left the events with an immense feeling of accomplishment. It’s always great to see the amazing work of our grantees, and convening our member companies leads to an amazing sense of camaraderie and celebration of the collective impact we are able to have as part of The Conservation Alliance.

Backyard Collectives bring together member company employees and local grantees for a day of environmental action. 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. Projects include trail work, invasive species removal, and other creative projects that make a difference in local communities and ecosystems. The BYC program brings together members of the Conservation Alliance community and illustrates firsthand the benefits of conservation efforts and the larger work of The Conservation Alliance.

The Conservation Alliance organized seven Backyard Collectives in 2014, bringing together over 1,000 member company employees, 39 member companies and 36 nonprofits, (more…)

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